By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – As Rutgers tries to enter uncharted territory in pursuit of that first Big East Title, they’ll have to start by doing something else they’ve never done before.
Win at Cincinnati with the Bearcats being a member of the Big East.
The Scarlet Knights are 1-6-1 at Cincinnati, with the lone win coming in 1987, 18 years before the Bearcats left Conference USA for the Big East.
The past three meetings at Cincinnati haven’t been for the faint of heart. In 2006 Rutgers was 9-0, coming off the biggest win in school history against then No. 3 Louisville before the 30-11 letdown. 2008 they lost a defensive struggle 13-10. 2010 was a defensive shellacking that Rutgers lost 69-38.
“I don’t.” head coach Kyle Flood said when asked if there’s a physiological hangover from the previous games at Nippert Stadium. “I certainly remember all three of those games.
“I would agree with that 2006 game – it was ugly. It was not something we had anticipated or we were very pleased with. I think some of the other games were a little different. I thought we performed well on defense in one of those games and not so well on offense. In the other game we performed well on offense, and not so well on defense.”
And the defensive players remember the latter. That game in 2010. Many players on the veteran laden defense where on the field that night.
“I just remember us going there and taking a beating. Plain and simple,” defensive end Ka’lial Glaud said. “We went down there and they beat us pretty good.”
Clearly, it’s a perfomance that can’t be erased from their minds.
“We think about it. We know it,” Khaseem Greene said, adding. “But we don’t really put too much into it. We know that whatever happened in the past happened in the past. That really doesn’t control what happens for us now. And if we do allow what we do now it could creep on us and beat us again and you never want to lose to the same thing twice.”
So while it’s in the back of their minds, it’s not a focus this week.
Some players said it would be in the back of their minds to use an added boost. Others said they wouldn’t even think about it. As whole, they’re focused on making new history.
“We have a new team, a new coach and this is a new year for us. Whatever happened in the history is called history for a reason,” Glaud said. “So we’re ready to make a present and a future for us and that’s going to be winning this game on Saturday.”
If they do that, they’ll have cleared that first of three obstacles to get to that elusive Big East Championship.
“We got to clear three hurdles,” Duron Harmon said. “This is the first one and this is the only one that we’re focused on right now.”