Share this article

print logo

Rutgers continues to makes strides Visits UB Stadium on Saturday

Rutgers in a bowl game? Absurd. The Scarlet Knights haven't had a winning season since the Clinton-Bush debates, let alone reached the postseason in the past 27 years.

So when some of the preseason magazines pushed Rutgers into the middle of the pack of the Big East, it was an indicator that the Scarlet Knights are no longer a laughingstock. And they could play somewhere come December.

Not convinced? How about two weeks ago, when Rutgers went on the road to face Illinois and was leading, 27-7, in the third quarter before the Fighting Illini woke up and won in overtime, 33-30? Then last week, Rutgers held I-AA Villanova to a measly touchdown in a 38-6 romp.

Still not convinced?

See for yourself Saturday when the new-and-improved Knights (1-1) visit UB Stadium to play the University at Buffalo (0-2) at 8 p.m. You will learn these aren't the same Scarlet Knights that would beat a team like Michigan State one week and lose to New Hampshire the next.

They have a quarterback in Ryan Hart who leads the Big East in passing yards per game (288) and total offense (276.5), and a wideout in Tres Moses who is first in receptions per game (six) and receiving yards (97.5).

"Their talent level has continued to grow," UB coach Jim Hofher said. "I think they're a talented football team. From an offensive standpoint they have a terrific tight end, their receivers are very good, their running backs are excellent and they've developed their offensive line to a significant degree."

It's the high-powered offense that has helped fifth-year coach Greg Schiano give the Scarlet Knights the no-longer-so-preposterous chance of the school's first winning season since 1992 and, with that, the chance for the program's first bowl appearance since 1978.

"It's better to have those expectations than the other alternative," Schiano said. "I hope that we have a football team that can play its guts out and hopefully by the end of the season will look up and will have won more games than we lost. (But) it's very tough to win at the Division I level, as everyone knows."

There is still a long way to go. To have a chance, Rutgers would need to pull at least one upset over West Virginia at home, Connecticut on the road or conference favorite Louisville on the road. And those same preseason magazines said Schiano -- who went 4-7 in 2004 and 5-7 in '03 -- is on the hot seat.

"Every week is a separate entity and every week is a battle," Schiano said. "I don't know yet how our team is going to handle that over the course of time. The expectations are realistic. They can happen, but 'can' is a dangerous word."

* * *

UB senior defensive tackle Rob Schroeder blocked his eighth kick during Saturday's 31-0 loss to Syracuse, which makes him the NCAA's active leader. Syracuse has two players on the list. Anthony Smith is sixth with five blocks and Steve Gregory is eighth with four. . . . For every UB student with a valid ID who attends Saturday's game, the UB Student Association will donate 50 cents for Hurricane Katrina evacuees who have been relocated to Western New York.

e-mail: rmckissic@buffnews.com

There are no comments - be the first to comment