By Matt Sugam
1. How will Rutgers approach a banged up Teddy Bridgewater?
They insisted this week they expect him to play like his healthy self. They’re preparing for him that way, and it’s really the only way they can. The film they have is of a healthy quarterback. However, they’ll keep an eye on Bridgewater and if his sprained ankle and fractured wrist (on his non-throwing hand) and adjust their game plan if Bridgewater’s limited. And you can be sure that they’ll be trying to hit him early and often.
2. Will Rutgers find the spark to its slow-starting offense?
They have 23 points in the first quarter through 11 games and just 83 first half points on the season. Louisville averages 32 points per game. The game at Pitt showed they can’t just rely on their defense to keep their slow-starting offense in the game. This game would be a great time for the offense to finally get off to a good start.
3. How will they handle the moment?
Without a championship game, Rutgers refers to every game as a Big East Championship game. Well this one really is. The winner goes to a BCS Bowl. While no one on Rutgers’ roster has been in a game of this magnitude, they are a senior laden team, and that leadership needs to come through now more than ever.
The sophisticated fan will be watching…
Louisville’s offensive play calling
While Bridgewater will play, Louisville head coach Charlie Strong said the offensive play calling will change. Strong said Brigewater will have trouble lining up under center or handing off with a fracutured left wrist. That will also affect the play action. Not to mention that Will Stein may come in in certain packages.
This game’s key player is…
Head coach Kyle Flood
Yes, it’s not a player. But this game is on Flood’s shoulders. He’s had as successful of a first year as anyone could have expected between keeping the top recruiting class in school history despite Greg Schiano jumping to the NFL just days before signing day and he’s guided Rutgers to a 9-2 record. Now he’s coaching in one of the biggest games in program history. A loss would cause the season to be a failure. The way he’s prepared his team for this game and manages it during those 60 minutes is crucial.
Fourth and short
While this is the de facto Big East Championship game, neither team is ranked in the BCS.
Quote of the week
“It is THE Big East Championship game. Every week we say it’s the Big East Championship game, but this is the ultimate Big East Championship game. This is the one that we’ve been fighting for. This is the one that we’ve been going on the road and holding each other together and playing for. This is the game. This is the game right here.” – Rutgers middle linebacker Steve Beauharnais