- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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This was not the blueprint we had in mind for Rutgers going into SEC country and escaping 4-0.
On Friday, we pegged the workhorse Jawan Jamison as the man who would power the Scarlet Knights past Arkansas. And the redshirt sophomore did not exactly disappoint, carrying the ball 33 more times for 118 yards.
But Rutgers won this contest on the arm of Gary Nova, who had a breakout performance Saturday in completing 25 of 35 passes for 397 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. The completions, yards and scoring throws were all career-highs for the sophomore.
Nova threw three touchdown passes in the second half, two of which answered Razorback scores to help Rutgers gain some separation. His 60-yard strike to Mark Harrison with 7:20 left in the game ultimately gave his team just enough breathing room, as it was the final score of a 36-27 victory.
"Probably the most impressive thing for me about the day was the amount of different receivers that he completed the ball to," coach Kyle Flood said of Nova, who hit eight different receivers, four of whom recorded at least four catches each. "We were really pleased at how he allowed the offense to work for him, which is really important for any quarterback, but especially a young quarterback. He seems to be getting a little bit better at that every week."
Nova was honored as the Big East offensive player of the week for his efforts. More importantly, he went toe-to-toe on the road with Tyler Wilson, whom Flood called one of the best quarterbacks in the country. An early performance like that can lift a developing team a long way, and the Scarlet Knights now have every reason to feel that this season can be like their famous 2006 campaign, only with a much happier ending.