CINCINNATI -- Running back Jawan Jamison was limited by an ankle injury on Saturday, so sophomore Savon Huggins carried the load for Rutgers, helping the Scarlet Knights keep control of their destiny in the Big East Conference title race.
Huggins rushed for 179 yards on 41 carries as Rutgers, ranked No. 22 in the Bowl Championship Series standings, defeated Cincinnati, 10-3, at Nippert Stadium.
Huggins had 175 total rushing yards this season entering the game. Jamison finished with 37 yards on only four carries.
"I've said all along the we have two starters at running back," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. "When a running back carries the ball over 25 times, they get into a rhythm. I think that happened with Savon today."
Rutgers (9-1, 5-0 in the Big East) rushed for 236 yards while limiting the Bearcats to 90 rushing yards.
"We take great pride in running the football," coach Butch Jones of Cincinnati said. "(Rutgers) makes you earn everything you get. I said earlier in the week this game would be decided at the line of scrimmage. They made the plays.
Cincinnati quarterback Brendon Kay, making his second career start, completed 17-of-31 passes for 251 yards, with two interceptions.
"They stopped the run, and I didn't get the job done throwing the ball," Kay said. "Simple as that."
The Bearcats (7-3, 3-2) had two interceptions and a blocked field goal on Saturday but couldn't convert those plays into points.
Both teams squandered scoring chances in the first quarter.
Rutgers drove to the Bearcats' 17-yard line, but quarterback Gary Nova had his pass intercepted by Camerron Cheatham.
A promising drive by Cincinnati ended when Tony Miliano missed a 34-yard field goal attempt.
Rutgers scored the first touchdown after Logan Ryan intercepted Kay's pass at the Scarlet Knights' three-yard line.
Moments later, Nova found Mark Harrison for a 71-yard touchdown pass, putting the Scarlet Knights ahead, 7-0, with 6:13 left in the second quarter.
Jones said cornerback Deven Drane was supposed to have safety help on the play. "The post was supposed to be double covered," Jones said. Huggins rushed for 85 of the Scarlet Knights' 134 yards in the first half.
"I seized the opportunity and did my job," Huggins said. "The more you carry the ball, the more you get to see what the defensive line is going to do.
"As the game went on, I was able to make my cuts with more conviction."
Rutgers, which ranked 17th nationally in rushing defense, held Cincinnati to 64 rushing yards in the first half.
The Bearcats drove to the Rutgers seven-yard line in the third quarter, but the Scarlet Knights tackled George Winn for a loss on fourth-and-inches.
"It's fourth down and half a foot," Jones said. "You have to be good enough to win. We have to get a first down there at a critical time. I felt we had a good call."
Cincinnati's next drive ended with Kay's second interception, this time by Steve Beauharnais. "It was cover 2 and I didn't get enough air under the ball," Kay said.
Jordan Stepp blocked a 22-yard field goal attempt by Nick Borgese, but Borgese later redeemed himself by tying a career-long with a 42-yard field goal to give Rutgers a 10-0 lead with 7:59 left in the game.
Milano kicked a 36-yard field goal to make the score 10-3 with 11 seconds left, helping the Bearcats avoid their first shutout since Nov. 9, 2005, a 33-0 loss to West Virginia.
"I couldn't be prouder of the way we played in the entirety of the game," Flood said. "If you can run the ball for over 200 yards and not give up a sack, it gives you a great chance.
"As a former offensive line coach, you appreciate that."
NOTES: Jawan Jamison remains 10 yards shy of becoming the first Rutgers player to reach 1,000 rushing yards in a season since Ray Rice in 2007. ... Junior right guard Andre Civil (ankle) did not play for Rutgers. Sophomore Taj Alexander started in his place. ... George Winn of Cincinnati eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season with a 15-yard run in the first quarter, becoming the 15th player in school history to reach that mark. ... Dominique Battle of Cincinnati made his first interception of the season and fifth of his career.