Rutgers entered Week 13 of the college football season with a chance to clinch at least a share of their first ever Big East title, but the Scarlet Knights were knocked off by Pitt, 27-6. The Panthers pounced all over Rutgers in the first half, jumping out to a 21-0 lead after the first 30 minutes. Rutgers entered the game with one of the best defenses in the FBS, but they struggled against the Panthers and the Scarlet Knights offense could not keep the D off the field.
Rutgers managed just 50 yards of total offense in the first half, and was 0-for-8 on third down as they fell into a three-touchdown hole they could not overcome. The Scarlet Knights knocked off Cincinnati on the road last week by constantly feeding it to running back Savon Huggins. Both Huggins and starter Jawan Jamison got nothing done on the ground against a determined Pitt defense. Rutgers averaged just 2.1 yards per carry on the day. Quarterback Gary Nova, who was banged up in the first half, wasn't much better through the air. Nova hit Brandon Coleman for an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter, but couldn't move the offense in the fourth quarter to get back in it.
Pitt, on the other hand, rolled right through the Rutgers defense both on the ground and through the air. Senior quarterback Tino Sunseri had two first-half touchdown passes, including a pretty lob to the right corner of the end zone that made it 21-0 with less than 10 seconds remaining in the half. Sunseri perfectly orchestrated that third and final touchdown drive with less than two minutes to play in the half, utilizing his timeouts and breaking it open on a defense that appeared impenetrable last week. On the ground, Ray Graham averaged nearly five yards per carry, racking up 113 yards and a touchdown.
Box Score Hero: In his final home game, Sunseri completed 21-of-37 attempts for 229 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Sunseri has had a tumultuous career to say the least, but he was impressive throughout the day against a ranked Rutgers team.
Rankings Ramifications: Rutgers will tumble toward the bottom of the top 25, but will likely remain ranked heading into their final game of the season.
But Did They Cover? Pitt was a slight one-point favorite in most places, and they covered in convincing fashion.
For More On This Game: For more on Scarlet Knights football, visit Rutgers blog On The Banks, plus Big East blog Big East Coast Bias and SB Nation New York. For more on Pittsburgh football, visit Pitt blog Cardiac Hill, plus SB Nation Pittsburgh. And Big East Coast Bias, for the time being.
Next Week's Schedule: Rutgers will host Louisville in Piscataway on Thursday in a primetime game for the Big East crown. Pitt will finish its season in the warmer climes of Tampa, as they face South Florida with a shot to become bowl eligible.