- Matt Fortuna, College Football
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The way Kyle Flood sees it, too much has happened to cloud Rutgers' memory since its 2011 loss to Connecticut. There has been a bowl game, spring practice, training camp and four more games this season. There is also a new head coach, too, along with different players in different spots.
"I think what motivates our team is the opportunity to be 1‑0 this week," Flood said during his weekly Monday news conference. "If you string together enough of those 1‑0s, you have got an opportunity to play for a championship.
"So every week in the Big East conference, because we don't have a conference championship game, every week is a Big East championship game. So for us to continue moving toward our goal, our motivation is simple: We want to be 1‑0 this week."
That conference title Flood speaks of was taken away from his Scarlet Knights last season when, with a chance to clinch a share of their first Big East championship, they were routed at UConn, 40-22, in their regular-season finale.
At 4-0 and ranked 22nd in the nation going into this year's contest with the Huskies, Rutgers has big dreams on the line again, in Flood's first season. But coaches and players insist they are not getting ahead of themselves after just one month.
"We actually live off of that," running back Jawan Jamison said of the past. "We realize what happened in the past, and we're just trying to build off of that for the future, not let it get to us at all. Our coaches do a pretty good job of keeping us humble and keeping us grounded."
Rutgers had actually won five of its previous six meetings with UConn before last season, and the Scarlet Knights had won the three prior meetings by four points or less.
That made the deal even sweeter for the Huskies, who boast the Big East's top defense after five nonconference games. Rutgers is second.
"It felt good last year because we had been in so many close battles with them in the years before, and they had always beaten us by three or two points here and there," UConn linebacker Jory Johnson said. "So it was good to come out and start fresh against them last year and really have that game in control the whole time. This year they're playing really well, their offense is clicking.
"It's going to be a big game, going on the road and playing in a hostile environment. But that's something that we look forward to. We're looking forward to going on the road and playing a big-time opponent, because now we can really show how good our team is."