Rutgers showed a lot of guts and perseverance today in coming back from a first half deficit to topple the NC State Wolfpack.
It's only fitting that the definitive story of the game was that Rutgers knocked another starting QB out of the game, even though Russell Wilson was injured on a routine tackle following a scramble. Wilson was playing out of his mind in the first half. He has Pat White's scrambling ability, and an absolute cannon for an arm. Rutgers very well may have lost the game if he had stayed in. That fact cannot be ignored, but harping on it too much is unfair in that it downplays everything that Rutgers did well in this game.
The first half of this game, in a lot of ways, resembled the first half of the season for Rutgers. Mike Teel was making a lot of errant throws, the running game was ineffective, the secondary gave up a lot of big plays, the offense was terrible in the red zone, and there were numerous special teams mishaps. Rutgers looked rusty (proving Keith Sargeant's prediction today very prescient) to start following their long layoff.
Wilson leaving was the definitive turning point (Daniel Evans was passable, but Harrison Beck might be the worst QB I've seen all year). Rutgers dropped the Shotgun empty sets in the second half for a heavy dose of play action and fullback checkdowns. Nothing was more fitting that Kenny Britt, in likely his final game as a Scarlet Knight, secured the victory with a phenomenal go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
One big standout today was Joe Martinek. He did not receive a carry in the first half (btw, where was Timmy Brown?), but was a big upgrade over Kordell Young and Jourdan Brooks in the second half. On defense, Alex Silvestro got a little penetration, although the pass rush was of limited effectiveness against Wilson. The true heroes on defense today were Ryan D'Imperio and the resurgent Courtney Greene. Against Louisville and NC State, Greene has played two of the better games of his career. He and Tiquan Underwood are no doubt in the process of rehabbing their damaged pro stocks with their recent play.
There's no apologizing for winning. What Rutgers did today was twofold: they preserved momentum of a winning football program, and they they ended things on a happy note to what has been a very trying year. NC State is one of the hottest teams in the country, but they found their match in Rutgers. It may have taken a couple gadget plays, but Greg Schiano was able to crack Tom O'Brien's long streak of bowl victories.
It's a shame that the season has to end just as Rutgers is in its stride. After this victory, Rutgers deserves a vote at the bottom of the top 25 poll. They're moving up with a bullet. You can't look around the college football landscape right now and say that many teams are playing better football.
I'm going to go let this one sink in now.