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Thursday, September 11, 2008
Sunrise in the East: Must-win for Rutgers?


Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Is tonight's date with North Carolina a must-win for 0-1 Rutgers? Tom Luicci of the Star-Ledger says it's as close to that as you can get in a second game. Rutgers players and coaches won't say that publicly, but Luicci notes the following:

A loss to the Tar Heels would mean the best Rutgers can be in nonconference play is 3-2. By simply duplicating last year's 3-4 league mark -- this time having to do so by playing at West Virginia, at Cincinnati, at Pittsburgh and at South Florida -- that adds up to a 6-6 season.
Only two teams in Big East history have started 0-2 overall and then went on to earn at least a share of the league title: Syracuse in 1995 and Virginia Tech in 1996.

Aditi Kinkhabwala of the Bergen Record says the Scarlet Knights badly need a win just for their own confidence.

* Sophomore Jake Sims will take over at right guard for South Florida, which lost starter Zach Hermann to a foot injury this week in practice, and Mike Ford and Ben Williams will be game-time decisions. Brett McMurphy of the Tampa Tribune has the news.

* Pittsburgh's run-pass ratio is out of whack, Paul Zeise says in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Panthers quarterback Bill Stull has the fourth-most passing attempts (84) in the country. Pitt's strength should be its running game with LeSean McCoy. But opponents are stacking the box to try and take him away.

* UConn's stout defense will be facing a first-time starting quarterback against Virginia, Desmond Connor notes in the Hartford Courant.

* After an impressive debut in which he caught two touchdown passes, Alric Arnett didn't have a reception against East Carolina and was thrown to only once, Chuck Finder writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. West Virginia needs to get him more involved in next week's game at Colorado.

* Syracuse's Bruce Williams, who moved from safety to wide receiver this summer, is now back at safety, Donnie Webb reports in the Syracuse Post-Standard.