And then, effectively, there were two.
No. 22 Rutgers remains the lone Big East team unbeaten in conference play, and the conference crown will now hinge on its Nov. 29 finale against Louisville. The Scarlet Knights control their own destiny and they seized a huge opportunity Saturday at Nippert Stadium, playing typical Rutgers football en route to a 10-3 win over Cincinnati.
With Jawan Jamison limited from last week's ankle injury, Savon Huggins picked up the workload the way few backups could. The sophomore carried the ball 41 times for 179 yards, and Rutgers' defense kept the Bearcats in check throughout the day, coming within 11 seconds of pitching its second shutout of the season before Tony Miliano kicked a 36-yard field goal to account for the final margin.
Rutgers recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Like most Scarlet Knights wins, this one was far from pretty to the outside eye. But it's been their formula for success all season, and it now has them 5-0 in Big East play.
Mark Harrison's 71-yard touchdown catch with 6:13 left in the first half was the only touchdown of the game. Harrison finished the day with 106 yards on four catches.
Gary Nova was just 11-of-19 for 186 yards with two picks, both coming in the red zone. But Brendon Kay threw two picks of his own, including one at the Rutgers 3, and he finished the day just 17-of-31 for 251 yards, with a team-best 46 rushing yards.
Big East leading rusher George Winn had nowhere to run all day, netting just 35 yards on 11 carries. Khaseem Greene led the way again for the Scarlet Knights, notching a team-best 11 tackles and recording two sacks.
Rutgers dominated time of possession (37:13 to 22:47), and it limited Cincinnati to 3 of 11 on third down and 0 of 2 on fourth down, including a red zone stop in the second half with the score still 7-0.
Everyone wondered if Rutgers would be able to keep up when facing a strong offense in conference play. Turns out it didn't matter. The Scarlet Knights' defense is that good, and it now has them in prime position to capture the program's first-ever Big East title.