The Rutgers Scarlet Knights' dream of contending for a BCS National Championship died Saturday with a 35-23 loss to the visiting Kent St. Golden Flashes in a non-conference football contest at High Point Solutions Stadium.
The loss to an unranked opponent snapped the No. 18-ranked Scarlet Knights' seven-game winning streak and could knock them out of the college football rankings come Sunday afternoon.
Rutgers Achilles heel was its seven turnovers with six of them coming from the arm of sophomore quarterback Gary Nova. According to Scarlet Knights head coach Kyle Flood, the turnovers were clearly the difference in the game:
"Very difficult to win a football game when you turn it over seven times. All the reasons really we've been standing here and talking about how we've won games, protecting the football, running the football, starting field position. Really all three of those phases hurt us in one way or another today."
Overall, Nova tossed for 313 yards and two touchdowns, however, it was clear that his six-turnover performance fueled the demise of an unbeaten season. When asked in his post-game press conference if he thought about making a change at quarterback, Flood didn't hesitate with a response:
"It wasn't difficult for me because I felt like we were still in the game, still had enough possessions to try to win the game. If we had gotten to the point where that wasn't the case, I might have gone a different route. We were still in a situation where if we could get a score, we could get a chance at an on-side kick and a chance to win the game.
"It wasn't a hard decision for me."
During the game, Flood said he did speak to Nova and he had a simple message:
"Take what the defense is giving you, don't feel like you got to get it all back in one play. Some of the interceptions, again, certainly Gary is going to look at the film and would have plays he'd like to have back, but the one-handed one by the defensive end, that's a spectacular play by that young man. One of them was tipped.
"It's not all of those interceptions him not reading things the way he'd want to. There's certainly plays he'd like to have back. We'll look at those on film and go forward and make the corrections."
Rutgers will enter a bye week and will return to the field Nov. 10 against the Army Black Knights. The Scarlet Knights resume Big East Conference play Nov. 17 at the Cincinnati Bearcats.