By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – The focus of the last few weeks has been Rutgers’ pursuit of that elusive Big East Title and a trip to the Orange Bowl. While they can’t secure both on their own this Saturday at Pitt, they can achieve the former.
Well, a share of it.
With a win at Pittsburgh Rutgers would own a share of the Big East Championship.
Yes, they can also win the conference outright as well, but that’s not entirely in their control. They’d need to beat Pitt and have UConn to win at Louisville.
However, what happens in the Steel City is in the Scarlet Knights’ control.
“The thing we can focus on this week is that we can clinch a share of the title,” defensive tackle Scott Vallone said. “I think that’s very important to everyone here.”
It’s the only thing on anyone’s mind.
“We’re trying to do something that’s never been done before,” right tackle R.J. Dill said. “We’re trying to win a Big East Championship and that’s at the forefront of our mind. Nothing else.”
As for whatever happens in Louisville, Rutgers isn’t the least bit concerned. The last thing you will catch one of the players doing is prognosticating about the what-ifs.
“That’s not how we think here,” Dill said of the scenarios. “We think about winning games each week and every week. We’re not worried about what the situations are. We’re worried about going 1-0 this week. This game’s just as important as the last game was and just as important as the first game was. This game is real important.”
Even still, Rutgers knows that whatever happens Saturday – aside from a win at Pitt and a loss by Louisville – the main goal still looms. Going to a BCS Bowl. And that happens by winning the conference.
“At the end of the day, we’re not focusing in on sharing it. We want to win it outright,” safety Duron Harmon said, adding, “that’s our goal – to win it outright. No sharing or anything like that.”
But a with a win Saturday, this team would do something no other team in school history has done. In doing so, they’d achieve their goal. Or at least a part of it.
“To win a conference championship here is something we’ve been striving for since the summer, through training camp…To play another meaningful game to clinch a share of the title, it’s going to be an important game for us,” Vallone said. “I know we’ll be excited and ready to go.”