Pinstripe Bowl: Three Keys


You saw the preview and predictions. Now here are three keys for Rutgers in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Iowa State:

1. Establish the run. This is a lot easier said than done when you are at Rutgers, a program that has struggled to gain any consistency on the ground since the days of Ray Rice. Heading into this game, Rutgers is averaging 91.5 yards a game, good for No. 115 in the nation. The inconsistency has been particularly maddening to coach Greg Schiano, who has had some decent production out of Jawan Jamison. He is going to be the workhorse in this one, as backup Jeremy Deering is banged up along with true freshman Savon Huggins. Rutgers has a chance to run the ball in this game because Iowa State ranks No. 100 against the run. Iowa State has held only two opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing and has given up more than 200 yards on the ground six times this season.

2. Win the turnover battle. This is a key in every game, but this is of particular importance to a Rutgers team that does not have a high-powered offense. Rutgers was ranked near the top of the nation in this category midway through the season but has fallen back because it has been unable to take care of the football of late. In Big East play, Rutgers finished at minus-4 in this category. In three of its four losses this season, Rutgers lost the turnover battle. Still, Rutgers can force mistakes in bunches. The Scarlet Knights have forced at least four turnovers in five games this season, and Iowa State has given the ball away 32 times.

3. Be special on special teams. This is always a hallmark of a Schiano-coached team, and this season proved to be no exception. Rutgers has eight blocks on the season -- second behind Fresno State (10). Those eight blocks came in six games. The Scarlet Knights also have scored off a blocked punt, a kickoff return and a fumbled punt. They need to do well on special teams because, as stated above, there is plenty of uncertainty when it comes to the offense.