After one half in Pittsburgh, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights trail the Panthers 21-0. Rutgers controls their own destiny in the Big East after their huge road win at Cincinnati last week, but the Pitt match-up certainly appeared to be a trap game on paper. The Panthers have played spoiler through the first 30 minutes, jumping out to that 21-point lead.
Rutgers has just 50 yards of offense in the first half and is 0-for-8 on third down. The Scarlet Knights pounded it on the ground last week against the Bearcats, but both Jawan Jamison and Savon Huggins are averaging fewer than four yards-per-carry. Quarterback Gary Nova was also banged up in the first half but did return after momentarily leaving the game. Nova is just 3-for-12 for a measly 13 yards.
On the other side, Rutgers' defense has been one of the best in the country, but the Panthers found the end zone three times in the second quarter for the three-touchdown lead. Tino Sunseri marched the offense down the field on an 80-yard drive that was capped with a 16-yard connection to reliable tight end Mike Shanahan. After a miserable punt by Justin Doerner, the Panthers added another touchdown in the final three minutes. This time, it was Ray Graham punching it in on the ground from one yard out to finish a short, penalty-aided three-play drive.
The Panthers put together one more touchdown drive in the final minute, utilizing their timeouts and adding to the lead with seven seconds remaining. Sunseri dropped one over the top of the defense and into the hands of Ed Tinker in the left corner of the end zone.
Rutgers has a chance to clinch a share of their first ever Big East championship with a win, but they'll need to get the offense moving early in the third quarter to get back in it.