First, I'm pleased to announce that The Bird Dog (a Navy football blog) has agreed to answer several Rutgers-related questions next week. Send them in!
Reading Tar Heel Fan this morning, I read something that I profoundly disagree with. No, it's not his expected optimism (even though I similarly think that Rutgers will win).
When the Heels have the ball, I think we can reasonably assume Butch Davis will not push the running game as much as he was willing to do against McNeese State.
I didn't see the McNeese St. game, but the media reports I read suggested that UNC's running game struggled early, and finally broke the will of McNeese late. That's how opponents ideally want to attack Rutgers and its undersized defensive line.
UNC's perceived strengths plays into RU's strengths. If UNC abandons the run (something I don't think Butch Davis will do), Rutgers is going to tee off against T.J. Yates, just like they did against Tom Brandstater in the first half of the Fresno State game. UNC has some very good WRs, and they may make a few plays as Fresno eventually did. I don't think those plays would have mattered much if RU's offense had done its job all day.
The key for Rutgers will be to similarly establish a rhythm in the passing game, and to stop leaving points in the red zone. I think Mike Teel will bounce back. The key player for me is Tiquan Underwood. If you just look at his raw totals of catches and receiving yards from last season, you'd think he had a great year. In truth, Kenny Britt was and remains the star of the Rutgers receiving corps. Underwood is a complementary player. That can be very valuable, but not when Underwood is dropping passes, like he did through the second half of last season and in the Fresno State game. It's obviously vital to control the line of scrimmage (UNC has a big defensive line, even though they'll be missing one starter tonight), but Underwood and special teams are my biggest concerns about this game.
Speaking of Red and Blue, no Presidential candidates will be at the game tonight, but we may have some even better guests. A contingent from America's real team, the Super Bowl Champion New York Football Giants (that's so awesome to type and will never get tiring) will be lending moral support according to Jason Baum, as reported by several beatwriters today.