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Rutgers does it Again

It took a few days before I could write about Rutgers 20-17 loss to Louisville on Thursday night. It has now been two straight seasons where Rutgers folded at the end of their season. This year has hurt the most as the team could have won the Big East outright and went to a BCS Bowl.

The Scarlet Knights lost three out of their last five games to finish at 9-3 and 5-2 in the Big East. They failed to show up against Pittsburgh last week and blew an eleven point second half lead against the Cardinals. They will learn their bowl fate on Sunday night.

The Rutgers offense got off to a great start on Thursday night. On their very first offensive play Gary Nova hit Brandon Coleman for an 85-yard touchdown. Nova followed that up by connecting with Mark Harrison on a 68-yard touchdown throw in the second quarter. Both big plays were actually intermediate routes where the receivers broke tackles to go the distance. Harrison finished with 131 yards for the night.

The team went into the half with a 14-3 lead but cracks started to show in the second half. Jeremy Deering made a curious play to open the half where he dove to catch the kickoff and Rutgers got pinned back at their own 10-yard line. The ball would have gone out of bounds.

They appeared to break the game open when D.C. Jefferson appeared to catch a touchdown on a fake field goal attempt on Rutgers second possession. This would have made the score 21-3. Offensive lineman Devon Watkis was called for being illegally down the field. This was a shady call at best; somehow the refs missed the blatant hold on Jefferson.

Rutgers was still in good position after this but they defense allowed Teddy Bridgewater to drive 90 yards for a touchdown to pull the Cardinals within 14-10. Bridgewater had a monster game despite the fact that he was playing on a bad ankle and broken left wrist.

The game got away from Rutgers at this point. Deering fumbled the kickoff and Louisville recovered. They hit a touchdown on the very next play and Rutgers lost their lead in a span of 16 seconds. At this point any Rutgers fan knew the game was probably over. This thought was cemented when Tim Wright dropped a touchdown pass on the next drive. He was wide open and would have caught a 48-yard pass but in typical Rutgers fashion he dropped the ball.

Rutgers eventually tied the game on a field goal but Wright wasnít done with the mistakes. He dropped what would have been a first down as the Scarlet Knights were driving and Louisville picked off the ball. They went down for the go ahead field goal. The game ended with Nova throwing an interception when he thought Brandon Coleman was running a deep route but he broke it off.

This was stunning even for Rutgers. This was supposed to be the year they finally could win the conference. West Virginia left for the Big 12 and we had a bunch of seniors on defense. The Big East is awful and to not be able to win it this year really makes you wonder if theyíll ever go to a BCS game. The offense and special teams were brutal all year but the biggest concern Rutgers fans have is the coaching. Why didnít they blitz more against a quarterback who had one good leg and wrist?

The offensive philosophy needs to change as well. You canít play conservative all the time, sometimes you have to play to win the game. They should have blown out Louisville Thursday night. Itís a real shame to play the way they did in the second half at home with a sell-out crowd. The message boards are a mess right now.

I know this is really long but it was such a brutal loss. The way this team loses games is just like the Mets and Jets. How I root for all three is beyond belief and no human should have this much stress watching sports. Itís too late for me so hopefully my children donít follow my steps.
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