Rutgers is now 5-1 heading into the bye week and can rest up before continuing the grueling new Big Ten schedule. The first half of the season is now over, and there's lots to discuss from the Scarlet Knights' first six games. For now though, the OtB crew looks back on the best and not-as-good from the Blackout:
Accolades: 3 players who got it done
Kevin Recio: Gary Nova is officially on a hot streak! Two games counts as a streak, right? The senior quarterback looked like a senior quarterback last night as he posted a career-high in yards thrown. This is what we all hoped he would become when he committed, and he still has plenty of B1G opportunities to leave a lasting legacy in Piscataway. The Dragon had another blocked kick and continues to be astonishing and all-around amazing. Andrew Turzilli had at least one touchdown for the second straight game, and if this means we have another receiving threat besides Carroo, then that's just fantastic.
Bob Cancro: Tough to go second after Kev wraps everything up so nicely. I don't see how any of us can not put Nova on this list. He is doing an exceptional job,, not just managing the game but running the offense. He deserves all the praise he can get since we dumped on him at other times. The defense did well, with Turay getting the big headline on the block. And despite Turzilli's showing, I like Tyler Kroft making his presence felt.
Dave White: Turay, Nova, and ... you know what it was a team game. I like Turzilli, but Kroft made plays. Peoples made Michigan pay when given the opportunity.
Andy Egan: Got to give it up for Gary Nova. Michigan made a decision that if they were going down, it was going to have to be Gary Nova doing it. They completely took away teh run game, and Nova stepped up. 400 yds and 0 INTs? Yes please. I thought Longa looked really good tonight - he seemed to be flying around the field even more than usual. Third, props to Mike Bimonte. He made two spectacular plays as the holder on bad snaps, and prevented disaster. Not a box score thing, but made a huge difference in the game.
Demerits: 3 players who can do better
KR: Justin Goodwin and Desmon Peoples didn't have the best game. Some of that is the offensive line not getting as good a push against a pretty talented Michigan defense, but I thought they could have done more. This was a game where I thought having Paul James would have been a difference-maker in the rushing game. Kyle Federico had a blocked PAT, which sucks.
BC: You did it again, Recio. That kicking game by Kyle Federico is going to haunt us, and almost did. We did miss the bull rush of Paul James, though I didn't think the two-headed mini-monster of Peoples and Goodwin did that bad a job.
DW: Brady Hoke just told his team to get the hell off the beach.
AE: That missed extra point seemed like it could have been a devastating situation right up until the Dragon got his paw seventeen feet in the air to knock that FG to the turf, so Federico is definitely on this list. Janarion Grant had a few costly drops, although he played pretty well overall. and our secondary still needs a lot of work. There were soft seams all over the place last night.
KR: I thought it was a great game called by Ralph Friedgen, and great execution by Nova, especially on third and long situations. Michigan took away the run, and Fridge & Nova responded by killing the Wolverines through the air. Hard to single out one great play.
BC: Yes, it was an overall great night. But I thought a statement was made in the second quarter. The Knights got the ball back after a Michigan punt for a touchback. One play and 12 seconds later, and Andrew Turzilli is crossing the goal line, to take the lead back.
DW: Blocking the field goal.
AE: Jet sweep(s) in Janarion Grant's hands can be deadly. That was a wrinkle the Fridge has been holding back, and it's a very welcome addition. Overall, I think this was Friedgen's best playcalling game at RU. Without an effective running game, he kept a stout Wolverines defense (that has definitely not been their problem this year) guessing all night.
KR: That fake punt backwards pass by fullback Michael Burton looked ugly from the beginning. Michigan wasn't fooled, and they turned the momentum into a scoring drive.
BC: Is there any other nomination? No!
DW: The fake punt... you know, 'cause it was a fake punt.
AE: DItto. Nothing else even close. Although if it worked I definitely would be among those lauding KF's boldness and genius, so, 20/20 hindsight and all that.
KR: Feels great to be 5-1 heading into the bye. I'm re-watching the DVR recording now and I'm still amazed at how good the offense looked in the absence of a running game. Admittedly, during the tTFP game I always had a nagging feeling that the Knights would cough up the game even with a 10-point lead at half. This night felt different. After the first couple of series, there was a confidence that had been missing for some time. I actually felt that Rutgers would pull out the win before halftime, and even if Michigan converted that controversial third down, I believed that Nova would execute a two-minute drill for a winning drive. I only hope that this feeling continues after the bye.
BC: For those of us who have been fans forever - yes, forever is more than 6 or 7 years (Hell, it's more than 25 years!) this was a rebirth. This was vindication for being a frustrated and disappointed fan for your adult life. It is what many of us feel we should have been for a long time - a major university in a major conference and with a 5-1 record, having just beaten the winningest team in college football history! Our team - the Rutgers Scarlet Knights - gave us something to be proud of, and, yes, I had tears in my eyes when it ended.
DW: Brady Hoke's constant Chris Christie impression.
AE: Please forgive me for writing a little mini-essay here, but I'm amped up. I think Kyle Flood has absolute control of this program, and these kids will run through brick walls for him. That is a very welcome development, and I'm not quite sure how he did it, given the Athletic Department's generalized and public dysfunction at times, and the Murphy's Law way last season ended. I am a believer at this point, and I am very excited to see where this goes. Our upcoming slate is brutal, but I think this team finds a way to steal a win from a team it has no business beating from a talent-perspective. Also, the atmosphere was insane last night, I think even better than ttfp. The ttfp game had so much loaded into it - first B1G game, against them, and all the pent-up animosity they inspire - that I think it got a little overwhelming. This was different - I know they're down, but this was Michigan, the winning-est team in the history of winning, and a team at the very core of the B1G's DNA. Every once in a while, I get a little charge, from some small (or large) reminder that this is, in fact, happening, and my school and my team really ARE in the Big Ten, in real life; this is not just a dream. I got one of those charges last night, when I walked into HPSS with my Dad, and MICHIGAN was on our field, maize and blue and winged helmets and the whole deal. Very cool. Beating this team, in that way, with our people going nuts with joy, was the payoff for more than a decade of crappy games, and bad publicity, and unforced errors. It was incredible. It doesn't top Louisville 06 for me, but they are 1a and 1b, with that crazy RU hoops victory over Florida a few years ago right there too. Thanks for this Rutgers - I will not forget it, ever. ICYMI, you need to see Coach Flood's speech to the team after this game. Biggest win in any current player's career, and you can hear a pin drop in that room.