Rutgers at Pittsburgh: Scarlet Knights meet Panthers

Patrick McDermott

With all the talk surrounding the seemingly inevitable Big 10 move, the Scarlet Knights still have two Big East games to focus on and it all starts this weekend when they face off against Pitt in their final road game of the season.

They may be in the news for a potential move to the Big 10 in 2014, but the No. 18 Rutgers football team still has two Big East matchups to worry about this year.

First up, this weekend, the Scarlet Knights (5-0, 9-1) take on Pittsburgh (1-4, 4-6) in their final road game of the season on Saturday afternoon.

"A great opportunity for our program playing against an excellent Pittsburgh football team," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said in his weekly press conference on Monday. "They've certainly gotten better and better as the season has gone on."

On paper, the Scarlet Knights hold the dominant advantage over a Pitt team with a fairly unimpressive record.

But Rutgers can't afford to think Saturday's game is a guaranteed victory before they've played a full four quarters of football. Sitting atop the Big East standings, the Scarlet Knights control their own destiny and this weekend's game is just about as important as they come.

For now, thoughts about the possible move to the Big 10 or what other teams in the Big East may or may not be doing, simply won't be tolerated by the Scarlet Knights.

There are more important things to worry about right now.

"I think when you have the opportunity as a football program, as a coach, as a player, to do something that's never been done in the history of your program, we are a very focused group," Flood said. "The football people in this building are focused on one thing, and that is trying to be 1-0 against Pitt."

A big question for Rutgers going into this weekend's matchup will be the health of sophomore running back, and team rushing leader, Jawan Jamison.

Jamison, who currently ranks 33rd nationally among all running backs, has racked up a team-leading 990 rushing yards on the season. He was limited in last week's victory over Cincinnati however, finishing with just four carries for 37 yards, after an ankle injury in the Army game.

Savon Huggins stepped in for Jamison - finishing with 179 yards off 41 carries - but there can be no doubt that the Scarlet Knights are hoping to see their top rusher back on the field this Saturday.

"Hopefully guys like Jawan will be that much healthier for not having played that much," Flood said. "I don't think he's the same. I think we handle it the same we did last week, and as Jawan gets healthy, his role will get bigger and bigger."

A victory this weekend would secure at least a share of the Big East Championship for the first time in school history, as well as recording their third 10-win season in 143 years of Rutgers football.

Before we get to any kind of history though, the Scarlet Knights have two more regular season games to get through, including Saturday's final road trip of the season. One thing is for certain though; Rutgers is focused and they're ready.

"When you have a mature team like we do, it helps you to eliminate distractions," Flood said. "I think every team is unique. Every season is unique. This is a very special football team."

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