Rutgers' national-title hopes end

November 19th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Rutgers' national-title hopes end


By Roger Rubin

New York Daily News

CINCINNATI - Unheralded Rutgers' bid for the national championship, the surprising story of the college football season, ended Saturday with a resounding thud.
The Scarlet Knights dropped out of any conversation about the national championship by following their biggest victory in 137 seasons with their biggest letdown. Defense-first Rutgers was shredded by Cincinnati and knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten in a 30-11 thrashing.
No. 7 Rutgers' first trip into the top 10 probably has ended after only one week, but aspirations for the Big East championship and a spot in a Bowl Championship Series bowl game are still alive. The Knights can accomplish each with victories over Syracuse on Saturday and at West Virginia the following week.
``I think a lot of us would have been happy with this,'' Coach Greg Schiano said. ``If you offered us 9-1 and a chance to do everything but win the national title, I think we'd all have taken it.''
``It hurts a lot,'' running back Brian Leonard said. ``It's very painful. There are goals we had that we can't reach anymore.''
The beating never figured to be this bad. Rutgers came into the game allowing only 10.9 points and 231 yards per game, ranking fourth in the country in both categories. Cincinnati -- with senior quarterback Nick Davila making his first career start -- rolled up 402 yards. Davila threw an 83-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek and a 62-yard scoring strike to Butler Benton.
Those two scores came in the third quarter, when Cincinnati, which led 17-3 at halftime, buried Rutgers.
Quarterback Mike Teel had an awful night, throwing four interceptions, but Rutgers' poor showing was not his fault alone. The Knights' 187 rushing yards per game put them 15th in the country, but Ray Rice and Leonard were smothered by the Bearcats.
By the time the game entered its final 10 minutes, Rutgers trailed 30-3 and was being showered with chants of ``over-rated!''
``We weren't very good tonight, but we will be good again,'' Schiano said. ``Somehow we'll benefit from this. Young people don't want to hear that right now, though. They're frustrated and very hurt.''
After the Scarlet Knights' thrilling upset of then-No. 3 Louisville on Nov. 9, Cincinnati (6-5) was definitely the wrong team to have a letdown against. The situation Saturday night was dripping with incentive for the Bearcats.
Davila said he watched Rutgers' celebration against Louisville on television and dreamed of his own.
``I thought: That's going to be us,'' he said.
In their final home game of the season, the Bearcats were getting a fifth shot this season at a team ranked in the top 10. They didn't win any of the other four -- against Ohio State (No. 1), Virginia Tech (No. 10), Louisville (No. 7) or West Virginia (No. 10). Cincinnati also knew it could qualify for a bowl berth with a victory.
Davila fought back tears while hugging his family and friends in the middle of a rare, raucous Cincinnati celebration.
``I'm just caught up in the moment right now,'' he said. ``I can't explain what's going on. It's so unbelievable. This is the greatest scene in the world.''

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