They may only have two games left to play in the Big East, but the No. 18 Rutgers football team still has a battle ahead of them if they hope to claim at least part of their first-ever league title this season.
The Scarlet Knights (5-0, 9-1) face off against Pittsburgh in their final road game of the season this afternoon, with kickoff scheduled for 12 p.m.
It's a game Rutgers not only needs to win, but wants to win, extending their historic season in what has become their final year in Big East competition.
"We have 11 days left in our season," coach Kyle Flood said in his weekly press conference on Monday. "We're going to control the things as a football program that we can control. And the only thing we can control this week is our performance against Pitt, so that's where we'll put our focus."
Perhaps the biggest news coming out of Rutgers practice this week is the seemingly eminent return of running back Jawan Jamison to the gridiron.
The sophomore, who currently leads the Scarlet Knights in rushing yards this season, was extremely limited in last week's victory over Cincinnati thanks a nagging ankle injury he had sustained in the Army game earlier this year.
Jamison pronounced himself 95% healthy after Wednesday's practice however, telling The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, "The treatment has gotten me back pretty fast. I'm getting my strength back. I was able to cut (yesterday) and get back to my old self."
If Jamison does return as the starter in the backfield this afternoon - sharing carries with Savon Huggins, who rushed for 179 yards on 41 attempts last week - he needs just 10 yards to become just the seventh player to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season for the Scarlet Knights.
Jamison's potential return today not only opens up Rutgers' rushing potential, but takes some of the offensive weight off the shoulders of quarterback Gary Nova, who has committed 11 turnovers in the last four games.
Nova, who still boasts a 33-1 record in the starting spot despite the mistakes, could find himself slightly more at ease with a balanced running attack to compliment his undeniably powerful arm; especially against a Pitt defense that allows, on average, just over 22 points per game.
"I think Gary has learned from every mistake he's made this year," Flood said. "I think he's gotten significantly better as the year has gone on at making good decisions."
The Scarlet Knights will still face some injuries when they line up for today's matchup. Kicker Kyle Federico will still be sidelined, replaced once again this week by Nick Borgese, who connected on a 42-yard field midway through the fourth quarter last week.
"Nick has become a major asset to this football team because he provided depth at a position where a lot of times it's overlooked," Flood said. "And it's a tremendous luxury for me as the head football coach."
On the Pitt side, the biggest injuries are the same that have been haunting the Panthers since late Ocotber, ending the collective seasons of Dan Mason, Manny Williams and Ryan Schlieper.
Today's matchup will be broadcast nationally on ESPNr2, as well as live-streams on WatchESPN.com and ESPN3.
As of Friday evening, Pit was the slim 1.5 point favorite on the spread.