It isn't do or die this afternoon, but it is awfully close.
The No. 23 Rutgers football team has already been the victim of an out-of-conference upset and as their hopes at a Big East title and BCS bowl appearance look a little less certain, the Scarlet Knights (4-0, 7-1) need a victory over Army (0-3, 2-7) if they're going to keep the dream alive.
Rutgers and Army meet this afternoon High Point Solutions Stadium for the 38th meeting of the two teams, with the noon kickoff scheduled to be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.
Coming off a bye and a somewhat surprising 35-23 loss to Kent State over the course of the last two weeks, the Scarlet Knights are in desperate need of a good performance and some good news.
"I think we got out of the bye week what we needed to get out of it," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said earlier this week. "I was very pleased."
The key for the Scarlet Knights this week? Coming out strong and fixing a string of mistakes that were the crux of their loss to Kent State.
For starters, quarterback Gary Nova simply cannot throw six interceptions. The team as a whole cannot give up seven turnovers. Teams don't win football games that way and with the nation's leading rushing offense waiting on the Army sidelines, the Scarlet Knight's can't afford to give them the ball anymore than they have to.
"So you have to learn from your mistakes because those situations are going to come up again at some point, but at the same time you have to be able to shift gears and start to learn a new game plan," Flood said.The game plan this afternoon is to get the ball back in Nova's hands and to jump-start a rushing attack that recorded only 96 total yards two weeks ago.
Rutgers does have history on its side, with the team winning 12 of the last 14 matchups between the two squads, but the Black Knights are fresh off a 41-21 victory over Air Force and for possibly the first time this season, it's Army football that's flying high.
"You really can throw the records out the window when you play an academy, and I think that showed up last week," Flood said. "It was no surprise to me."
As of Friday afternoon, Rutgers was facing some injury issues that could impact the way the Scarlet Knights approach kickoff today.
Kicker Kyle Federico's situation is more or less the same. The freshman is still unsure of his ability on the field and it's almost certain that Kyle Flood won't risk it if Federico isn't completely up to snuff. Fan should expect to see Nick Borgese today.
As of Friday afternoon, the Scarlet Knights were the favorite to pull off the victory, earning 17 points on the spread over Army.
In addition the national broadcast, today's matchup can be viewed online, streaming on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.com.