07 October 2011
When Tino Sunseri said the offense was "this" close after the Notre Dame game most people probably laughed at him. Well, who's laughing now? The High Octane offense was hitting on all cylinders last Thursday night against USF. Some very credible sources (student fans and lively Twitter participants JD and Mike) said that the student section was electric for the game as well. Ray Graham agrees:
A non-noon, Saturday afternoon game! Oh wait, its on the road and the next home game is a noon of course. Anyhow, Pitt vs. Rutgers in early October and the winner of this game claims sole possession of the BIG EAST conference is probably not what people anticipated when the season started. This is an important game for Pitt to stay in contention for the conference, as it is likely that winning the BIG EAST will require being undefeated or having at most one loss in conference. And who knows, winning the conference may be even more special as it could be the last BIG EAST season ever for football as it looks like TCU has both feet out the door now.
What do you need to know about the game against Rutgers? The answer is turnovers. Rutgers forces a lot of turnovers so Sunseri, R. Graham, H. Graham and company are going to need to be careful this week. This will likely be the key match-up in the game. While Pitt has dominated the all-time series against Rutgers things didn't go their way for the first four meetings with Dave Wannstedt as coach, resulting in a loss each time. Needless to say, I feel a bit safer with Todd Graham patrolling the sidelines when playing Rutgers.
Head over to The Rutgers Fan Zone at NJ.com for a question and answer session with yours truly. Now about Rutgers...
Ah Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. I think they're so embarrassed of Jersey Shore (the show) that they downplay being the state university of New Jersey. Now, I could go into a whole bunch of New Jersey jokes here but I'm not going to. That would be classless, and I'll leave that for someone from West Virginia.
Rutgers was founded in 1766 and originally called Queen's College, it is the 8th oldest college in America. It was designated the State University of New Jersey in 1945, and in 1956. It was named Rutgers University in 1825 after American Revolutionary War hero Colonel Henry Rutgers. Every Saturday during college football season everyone should thank Rutgers, as it is considered the birthplace of college football. The first intercollegiate football game was held between Princeton and Rutgers on November 6, 1869 in New Brunswick, NJ. Although this game is believed to be closer to a game of soccer than modern football, it's still pretty cool that they started college football. Unfortunately they did not join the ACC in 1870...
Rutgers, like Pitt, has some pretty amazing history in the field of medicine. In 1952 Professor Selman Waksman won the Nobel Piece Prize for Medicine for discovering 22 antibiotics, including the first antibiotic to be applied as a cure for tuberculosis. Another notable Alumni for Rutgers include Barry Schuler who founded America Online (AOL), wait - does anyone remember AOL?
If you are watching the game on TV this weekend, you may recognize a few of the faces you see on the Rutgers sideline. That is because Greg Schiano was so pleased that he beat Dave Wannstedt's coaching staff on a regular basis that he wanted to hire them for his own staff (wait, what?). OK, perhaps that isn't fair, at least for former Pitt/now Rutgers OC Frank Cignetti. Rutgers was 4-0 against Wannstedt's staff until Cignetti came in for the last 2 years, in which Rutgers went 0-2. Joining Cignetti in New Jersey is former secondary coach and NJ local Jeff Hafley and former tight ends coach Brian Angelichio. Rounding out the bunch is a new grad assistant at Rutgers. Pitt fans may know him as the only fourth string QB/holder we will remember for the rest of our lives, Andrew Janocko. The coaching staff won't be the only ones having a reunion of sorts as Ray Graham's brother, Khaseem Greene, is a linebacker for the Scarlet Knights. This will be the third meeting between the brothers, with Graham putting up -2 and 56 yards in the previous two meetings. Now that Graham will be on the field for many more snaps than he was previously, here's hoping that he makes his brother look like a fool and regains the rushing title after Oregon's LeMichael James went down with an injury last night.
Hail to Pitt!
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