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Dr. Saturday is not impressed

There's no love lost between Rutgers fans and The Star Ledger/NJOnline, but you'd at least think that RutgersAl could make sure that the comments responding to each of their stories about RU football contain the requisite amount of homerism. That's only the start for Dr. Saturday, in response to the recent news that Phil Steele is picking Rutgers to win the Big East this year. He's just as much concerned with the complete parity in conference next year, and doesn't disparage the Knights too harshly.

There's a good chance Steele's will be the only magazine -- or blog, or Web site, or entity of any kind -- that considers RU a potential top-25 outfit, much less a BCS team.

Preseason polls are, of course, a joke (the regular polls aren't much better); but work with me on the premise that there is some informative method to accurately rank teams before they've played a down of football. I don't think that Rutgers is one of the top twenty five teams in the country, whatever that means, but here's the case that doesn't require too much as far as grains of salt go.

1. The out of conference schedule is atrocious. That hasn't stopped other teams (re: Texas Tech) poll-wise in the past. Quite to the contrary. Rutgers also has four conference home games, and most of its tougher BE opponents will have to visit Piscataway this fall.

2. The on-paper losses have to be considered in context of the rest of the conference, and the overall talent level for the Rutgers football team this fall looks as strong as ever, if not stronger. The defense will be good, especially in the front seven. RU returns its entire offensive line after breaking in several green starters last fall, and running back Joe Martinek looks like a breakout candidate. Hence, the meme that the 2009 Knights will be able to grind out games with a physical ground attack and a ferocious pas rush, much akin the way they shot up to #12 three years ago.

Again though, I strongly disagree with the notion that the Big East is necessarily going to be "weak" this year. Parity is as much a function of the fact that teams like Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have made strides in recent years, as it is that Rich Rodriguez and Bobby Petrino have long since skipped town. There may not be all that much, talent-wise, separating Cincinnati, West Virginia, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh this fall, but that hardly means that those four legit contenders aren't objectively good teams. This is precisely what I was talking about a few weeks back, when I predicted that the likelyhood of parity this fall would unfairly bring more undeserved criticism to the Big East football conference.