W2W4: Rutgers at Syracuse

September, 30, 2011

Here are three things to watch in Saturday afternoon's football game between Rutgers (2-1) and Syracuse (3-1) at the Carrier Dome.

Kickoff is at noon, and the game will air locally on SNY. It is also available via ESPN3.

MO MONEY: Rutgers wideout Mohamed Sanu is coming off a record-breaking performance in the Scarlet Knights' 38-26 win over Ohio last Saturday. The 6-foot-2 junior had 16 catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns, breaking the Big East record for most receptions in a game. On the season, Sanu has 36 catches for 363 yards and four scores. He leads the nation in receptions per game (12.0), and is eighth in receiving yards per game (121.0).

Can Sanu keep this up against the Orange? You know they'll be paying extra attention to him. Keep in mind though, Syracuse has struggled defending against the pass this season. They're ranked No. 106 in the country in passing defense.

WREAKING HAVOC: The Scarlet Knights have forced 13 turnovers in three games -- that makes them tied for third in the country. They'll be trying to force a few more on Saturday, but it won't be easy. Syracuse is led by senior quarterback Ryan Nassib, who has completed 71.4 percent of his passes this season (90 of 126), with nine touchdowns and just one interception. "He's improved quite a bit," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said this week of Nassib. "He seems so much more confident, so much more quick with his decision-making. He looks physically stronger, thus the ball is thrown physically better. Looks like a guy in total control of their offense."

Also, the Orange should be comfortable playing in the Carrier Dome. The Scarlet Knights, on the other hand, could struggle with the noise. "It's about poise, it's not about noise," Schiano said. "You have to keep your poise when it gets crazy. Young guys that haven't been there, anytime you do something for the first time ... it can be a experience. It's a hard job to prepare them to keep their poise under pressure."

PRESSURE'S ON: This is the Big East opener for both teams. Rutgers won only one conference game last season, so you know they Knights are desperate to start this year off on the right foot. And Syracuse certainly wants to move past a controversial win over Toledo last week, in which the referees mistakenly ruled that a missed extra point was good, allowing the Orange to go to overtime and eventually win the game.

These two teams look pretty even on paper, and both will be fired up. It should be an entertaining game, and could be one of their final meetings, with Syracuse's impending move to the ACC.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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