Army-Rutgers Preview

The Associated Press

Rutgers has had plenty of time to move on from its first loss of the season.

Before the No. 24 Scarlet Knights continue the pursuit of their first Big East title, they'll come out of their bye week trying for a ninth consecutive victory over visiting Army on Saturday in their second straight non-conference matchup.

If there was one positive Rutgers (7-1) took from its 35-23 home loss to Kent State on Oct. 27, it's that the outcome won't matter in the race for a Big East championship.

"This is a (bump) in the road,'' linebacker Khaseem Greene said. "We control our own destiny and we can still do what we set out to do since the beginning of the year.

"This is all about how we respond."

The Scarlet Knights are tied for the league lead with No. 11 Louisville at 4-0, but face a daunting task in their final three conference games with road contests at third-place Cincinnati and Pittsburgh before finishing at home against the Cardinals on Nov. 29.

"I think we'll be very motivated," first-year coach Kyle Flood said.

Flood would like nothing better than for his squad to build some momentum for that final stretch by continuing its success against Army (2-7), which has lost the last eight in the series by an average margin of 21.0 points. The Black Knights' last victory over Rutgers came 37-35 at home Oct. 18, 1997.

Backed by its triple-option offense, Army enters this contest averaging an FBS-high 375.4 rushing yards. However, Rutgers has held the Cadets to 171.3 on the ground in the last seven meetings.

Rutgers is fourth nationally in rushing defense (88.5 yards per game), though it allowed the Golden Flashes to run for 224 yards.

Army has dropped three straight in Piscataway, N.J., since a 35-28 win in 1972. That also was the last season the Cadets beat a ranked team, 17-14 over Air Force on Nov. 4.

"When you put it in that perspective, you find out in a hurry exactly what you're in for (against a service academy)," Flood told Rutgers' official website. "I think (Rutgers' players) really take pride in their ability to change gears for a week and get this game plan mastered as best we can and then accept the challenge of stopping the number one rushing offense in the country."

While the defense is excited about the challenge, Rutgers' offense needs to improve after turning the ball over seven times versus Kent State. Sophomore Gary Nova threw three interceptions in the first seven games but was picked off six times and had one returned for a TD against the Golden Flashes.

"It's a terrible feeling,'' said Nova, who has thrown for 1,816 yards and 17 touchdowns. "You never want to feel like (that), especially with all of the hard work you've put in. You've just got to take the punches and keep going."

Jawan Jamison ran for 84 of his 863 yards against Kent State. He rushed for 63 and a TD on seven carries in Rutgers' 27-12 win over Army last season at Yankee Stadium.

Army hopes to avoid a 10th straight road loss as it looks to build on last Saturday's 41-21 win over Air Force. Quarterback Trent Steelman rushed for 101 yards with two TDs as the Cadets snapped a 13-game skid in service academy games.

With 2,893 yards, Steelman moved past the great Glenn Davis into third place on Army's all-time rushing list. The senior, who missed last season's game with Rutgers due to an injury, ran for 102 with a score on 27 carries and passed for 115 yards in a 23-20 overtime loss to the Scarlet Knights in 2010.

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