HOUSTON (5-1, 2-0 AAC) at RUTGERS (4-2, 1-1 AAC)
Saturday, October 26 • 12:00 p.m. • ESPNews
High Point Solutions Stadium
Radio: Rutgers IMG Sports Network
(710-WOR; 1450-WCTC; 610-WIP)
Live Stats: ScarletKnights.com
Series: First Meeting
• Rutgers faces Houston for the first time as the two schools meet Saturday at noon in Piscataway. ESPNews has the broadcast to a national audience.
• Rutgers will have 34 days inbetween its last home game and Saturday’s return to High Point Solutions Stadium. It is the longest stretch of days between home games in a season since a 35-day streak in 2006 (9/23/06 vs. Howard, 10/29/06 vs. Connecticut.
• Coverage on the Rutgers IMG Sports Network begins at 11 a.m. with Chris Carlin (play-by-play), Ray Lucas (color analyst), Eric LeGrand (color analyst) and Anthony Fucilli (sideline) calling the action.
• Saturday’s meeting is the first between the two schools.
• RU is 2-2 all-time against opponents from the Longhorn State. Rutgers is 0-2 all-time against Texas, 1-0 versus SMU and 1-0 against Texas Southern.
• Houston is one of three first-time opponents for the Scarlet Knights in 2013. Rutgers is 2-0 this season against an opponent for the first time with wins over Eastern Michigan (28-10) and at SMU (55-52, 3OT).
• Rutgers is 52-27-2 on Homecoming from 1930-2012. There were not any Homecoming games played in 1932 and 1943.
• The longest consecutive streak of Homecoming victories was seven (1958-64).
• Rutgers played Lehigh 15 times in school history on Homecoming, the most of any opponent. The Scarlet Knights are 12-3 against Lehigh.
• The largest attendance in school history on Homecoming was Rutgers’ 48-0 shutout against Texas Southern on October 10, 2009 with official attendance of 50,169.
• The Scarlet Knights have lost two of their last three games on Homecoming. RU lost to Tulane 17-14 in 2010, defeated Navy 21-20 in 2011 and lost 35-23 to Kent State last season.
This and That ...
• Gary Nova became the sixth RU quarterback to throw for 5,000 career yards in the win over Arkansas. He also took over third all-time with 46 passing touchdowns. Nova now has four games with at least 300 yards passing in his career, tied for the third most for a RU quarterback since 1973.
• Rutgers is the only school in the nation to post a shutout in each of the last eight seasons.
• Rutgers is 46-5 since 2000 when holding opponents to less than 300 yards of total offense.
• The Scarlet Knights are 35-8 since 2006 when rushing for 150 yards or more in a game.
• Since 2000, the Scarlet Knights are 47-17 when going over the 150-yard mark on the ground.
• Rutgers finished with 273 yards rushing in the 38-0 victory over Norfolk State. It was the most yards rushing in a game by the Scarlet Knights since 292 against Ball State in the 2008 International Bowl.
• Since 2000, Rutgers is 46-13 when holding the opponent below 100 yards rushing in a game.
• Since 2000, Rutgers is 22-3 when limiting the opponent to less than 50 yards rushing in a game.
• Eight true freshmen have seen action already this season, with cornerback Nadir Barnwell becoming the first to make a start versus Arkansas.
• Thirteen different players have made their first career start this season, with four starting all five games so far (Hamilton, Longa, Lumpkin, Mera).
• The longest punt return last season was 22 yards. True freshman Janarion Grant posted returns of 58 and 47 yards versus Arkansas.
• Seven of the top 15 crowds in stadium history have happened since the beginning of the 2012 season.
Tough Against the Run
One staple of the Rutgers defense over the last decade has been its ability to stop the run. The Scarlet Knights are second nationally in rushing defense allowing just 84.0 yards per game.
The top seven teams nationally in rushing defense have a combined record of 39-8.
NCAA Rushing Defense Leaders
School Rushing Yards Per Game
1. Michigan State 59.1
2. Rutgers 84.0
3. Louisville 86.6
4. East Carolina 87.0
5. Wisconsin 87.6
6. Virginia Tech 91.0
7. Ohio State 92.4
8. Alabama 98.3
Last season, Rutgers ranked sixth nationally in rushing defense (97.2 yards per game). The Scarlet Knights have also finished in the top 20 in rushing defense in 2009 (15th, 103.2 yards per game) and in 2006 (17th, 101.0 yards per game).
More on Stopping the Run
• Rutgers is first in the nation in opponent rushing yards per carry on first down (2.3) and has held opponents to a national low 237 yards on first down.
• The Scarlet Knights have allowed five rushing touchdowns in 2013, tied for the 13th-fewest in the nation.
• Rutgers is second in the country in fourth quarter rushing defense in 2013. RU’s opponents have combined to rush for 44 yards on 43 carries in the fourth quarter this season. In all, RU’s opponents have averaged 1.05 yards per carry in the fourth quarter in 2013 (42 attempts, 44 yards).
• Rutgers has yielded just four runs of 20 yards or more this season, tied for the 14th-best figure nationally.
• The Scarlet Knights have allowed just 2.2 yards per rush in the second half and overtime in 2013, the second-best mark nationally.
After ranking near the bottom of the national rankings in scoring offense and total offense over the last four years, Rutgers has found its way in the on offense in 2013.
With a full season of starts under his belt, junior quarterback Gary Nova has directed an offense that ranks 37th in scoring offense.
Total Offense/Scoring Offense Comparisons
Year, Category (Avg. per game) National Rank
2013, Total Offense (392.3) 79
2013, Scoring Offense (35.0) 37
2012, Total Offense (329.9) 104
2012, Scoring Offense (21.5) 96
2011, Total Offense (339.0) 99
2011, Scoring Offense (26.4) 65
2010, Total Offense (294.2) 114
2010, Scoring Offense (20.8) 101
2009, Total Offense (326.3) 97
2009, Scoring Offense (28.9) 52
2008, Total Offense (398.4) 39
2008, Scoring Offense (29.0) 39
2007, Total Offense (449.3) 18
2007, Scoring Offense (32.7) 33
2006, Total Offense (345.1) 58
2006, Scoring Offense (29.7) 22
Gary Nova started the season with 348 yards passing and five touchdown passes at Fresno State (August 29). He set a school record for passing yardage and touchdown passes in a season-opener with his performance against the Bulldogs.
The 348 yards passing rank No. 13 in Rutgers’ single-game history and Nova became only the second player in school history to have at least two five-touchdown games. Only Mike Teel (seven vs. Louisville, six vs. Pittsburgh) in 2008 has also had two games of at least five touchdown passes. Nova also threw five TD passes in the win vs. Arkansas in 2012.
Nova already ranks sixth in school history with 5,621 career passing yards and 439 completions and third with 47 touchdowns. He is the sixth quarterback in RU history to reach the 5,000-yard passing plateau.
Rutgers Career Touchdown Pass Leaders
Player Career Touchdown Passes
1. Mike Teel (2005-08) 59
2. Ryan Hart (2002-05) 52
3. Gary Nova (2011-present) 47
4. Ray Lucas (1992-95) 43
5. Mike McMahon (1997-00) 41
Scott Erney (1986-89) 41
More Nova Notes ...
• Gary Nova threw for 193 yards in the first half at Fresno State, the most in an opening half in his career.
• Nova threw for 348 yards versus the Bulldogs, eclipsing the 300-yard mark for the third time in his career. The 348 yards were the second most he has thrown for in a game. His career-best is 397 at Arkansas (Sept. 22, 2012).
• Nova threw five touchdown passes, tying his career high at Arkansas (Sept. 22, 2012).
• Nova is 19th nationally with 14 touchdown passes in 2013.
• Nova is tied for second nationally in second half/overtime touchdown passes in 2013 with nine. Nova has just three interceptions in the second half and overtime periods of play this season.
NCAA Second Half/OT Passing Leaders
1. Sean Mannion, Oregon State 18-0
2. Gary Nova, Rutgers 9-3
2. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M 9-2
2. Keith Wenning, Ball State 9-3
Rutgers scored 51 points in the first game of the 2013 season at Fresno State. It marked the first time since December 4, 2008 that Rutgers eclipsed the 50-point mark in a game (63 vs. Louisville).
RU rolled up 543 yards of total offense against Fresno State - the highest single-game total for the Scarlet Knights since 671 yards of total offense against the Cardinals in 2008.
The Scarlet Knights scored 28 points or more in each of the first five games to start the season for the first time in school history in 2013.
Kroft Among National TE Leaders
Rutgers tight end Tyler Kroft was added to the 2013 John Mackey Award Midseason Watch List, the organization announced. The award is given annually to the most outstanding collegiate tight end.
Kroft, a sophomore, has scored a touchdown in three straight games and his last 14 receptions have either gone for a first down or a score. For the season, he has 18 catches for 268 yards (14.9 yards per reception).
He is seventh nationally among tight ends in receiving yards per game.
Kroft earned distinction from the same organization last month, being named the John Mackey Tight End of the Week after posting a career-high six receptions and 133 yards in the victory over Arkansas. He was the first RU tight end since Clark Harris in the 2006 Texas Bowl to post 100 yards receiving in a game.
NCAA Tight End Receiving Leaders
Player Rec.- Yards - TD - Rec. YPG
1. Jace Amaro, Texas Tech 56-742-3-106.0
2. Eric Ebron, North Carolina 31-532-3-88.7
3. Devin Funchess, Michigan 23-492-4-70.3
4. Wes Saxton, S. Alabama 25-358-0-59.7
5. Tyresse Russell, Eastern Michigan 31-366-2-52.3
6. Nick O’Leary, Florida State 16-293-5.48.8
7. Tyler Kroft, Rutgers 18-268-3-44.7
Take it to the House
Rutgers is 17th nationally in kickoff returns with an average return of 25.3 yards. The Scarlet Knights, Stanford, UTEP, TCU and Texas State are the only teams in the nation with two kickoff returns for a touchdown this year.
Rutgers, Stanford, UTEP and Texas State are the only two schools nationally with two kickoff returns of 90 yards or more in 2013.
True freshman wide receiver Janarion Grant ran back a 100-yard kickoff return to score the first points of the season for Rutgers at Fresno State.
The 100-yard kickoff return tied a school record and Grant became the first true freshman in 144 years of football at Rutgers to record a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Only Grant and Nate Jones have recorded a 100-yard kickoff return in the Rutgers’ record books. Jones did it at Syracuse and at Tennessee in 2002.
The 100-yard kickoff return for Grant was the first kick return for a touchdown for the Scarlet Knights since Jeremy Deering notched a 98-yard return against USF (Nov. 5, 2011).
Senior Quron Pratt scored on a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the victory over Eastern Michigan. Both Pratt and Grant scored a touchdown on the first kickoff return of their careers, respectively.
Recent Rutgers Kickoff Returns for a Touchdown
99 - Quron Pratt (Sept. 14, 2013 vs. Eastern Michigan)
100 – Janarion Grant (Aug. 29, 2013 at Fresno State)
98 – Jeremy Deering (Nov. 5, 2011 vs. USF)
98 – Devin McCourty (Oct. 31, 2009 at Connecticut)
91 – Joe Lefeged (Dec. 5, 2009 vs. West Virginia)
35 – Damaso Munoz (Dec. 19, 2009 vs. UCF)
Sophomore WR Leonte Carroo did something that no other player has done in 144 years of Rutgers football - catch three touchdown passes in his first career game at wide receiver. Carroo played in all 13 games in 2012, but was used on special teams.
Carroo caught five passes for 135 yards and three scores against Fresno State. The three touchdown passes are tied for third in RU single-game history and he is just the fourth player in school history to catch at least three receiving touchdowns in a game.
The Edison native ranks ninth nationally with seven receiving touchdowns in 2013. Carroo is one of three players in the country with four receiving touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Carroo is tied for eighth in RU single-season history with seven receiving touchdowns in 2013.
Carroo is tied for the national lead with four touchdowns in the fourth quarter and second nationally with six touchdowns in the second half and overtime in 2013.
NCAA Receiving Touchdown Leaders
1. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State 12
2. Davante Adams, Fresno State 11
3. Eric Thomas, Troy 10
4. Mike Evans, Texas A&M 9
5. Antwan Goodley, Baylor 8
5. Willie Snead, Ball State 8
5. Jarvis Landry, LSU 8
5. Devante Davis, UNLV 8
9. Leonte Carroo, Rutgers 7
Seven others tied with 7
RU Single-Season Receiving Touchdown Leaders
Player (Year) Touchdowns
1. Brandon Coleman (2012) 10
1. Marco Battaglia (1995) 10
3. Mark Harrison (2010) 9
3. Tim Brown (2009) 9
3. Bob Simms (1958) 9
6. Kenny Britt (2007) 8
6. Reggie Funderburk (1994) 8
8. Leonte Carroo (2013) 7
8. Mohamed Sanu (2011) 7
8. Kenny Britt (2008) 7
8. Tiquan Underwood (2007) 7
8. Steve Harper (1995) 7
8. Chris Brantley (1992) 7
8. Mark Twitty (1975) 7
The Glassboro Express
Sophomore running back Paul James leads the conference with 573 rushing yards. James has missed the last two games and will not play against Houston due to a lower leg injury.
He would rank fourth nationally in rushing yards per game (143.3 yards per game), but does not have enough rushing attempts to qualify. The first-year starter is averaging 7.4 yards per carry and is just one of two players in the country with four runs of 50 yards or longer.
Big Play James Notes ...
• Paul James found the end zone three times in the Eastern Michigan victory; giving him six touchdowns in two games. Rutgers had six rushing touchdowns for the 2012 season.
• James is the first Scarlet Knight since Ray Rice in 2007 to score at least three touchdowns in two consecutive games. Rice had three touchdowns against Louisville and four touchdowns in final collegiate game against Ball State.
• James is the first player to have four rushes of at least 50 yards in a season in the 2000s. The last RU player with at least two rushes of 50 yards or more was Rice in 2006 with two.
• James’ four rushes of 50 yards or more are more than the previous three seasons combined. RU had one rushing play of 50 yards or longer in 2012, 2011 and 2010.
• Since 2000, Rutgers has had multiple 50-yard runs in a season four times: 2013 (4), 2009 (2), 2006 (2) and 2005 (2).
• James ran for the most yards by a player coming off the bench in school history with his 182-yard performance at Fresno State in the 2013 opener.
• James finished with 22 rushing attempts for 182 yards against the Bulldogs. It was the fourth-highest single-game rushing total by a player in school history in the opening game of the season.
• James is the fourth player in Rutgers history to post multiple games of 180 yards or more in the same season. He joins Ray Rice (2007, 2006), Terrell Willis (1993) and “JJ” Jennings (1973) in the record books.
Top Single-Game Rushing Totals in Season-Opener
Player, Opponent (Date) Rushing Yards
Ray Rice at North Carolina (9/2/06) 201
Henry Henderson at Cincinnati (9/5/87) 199
Ray Rice vs. Buffalo (8/30/07) 184
Paul James at Fresno State (8/29/13) 182
Memorable First Career Start
Paul James scored three touchdowns in his first career start in Rutgers’ 38-0 victory over Norfolk State. On his mother’s birthday, James found the end zone for the first time in his career.
Player, Opponent Att.-Yards-TD
Terrell Willis at Army (10-16-93) 37-221-4
Savon Huggins at Cincinnati (11-17-12) 41-179-0
Jourdan Brooks at Navy (9-20-08) 22-134-2
Paul James vs. Norfolk State (9-7-13) 18-119-3
“JJ” Jennings vs. Colgate (11-20-71) 21-108-3
Bruce Presley vs. WVU (11-14-92) 27-105-0
Kordell Young vs. Fresno State (9-1-08) 26-94-0
Mason Robinson vs. UNC (9-11-08) 16-82-0
Joe Martinek vs. Louisville (12-4-08) 18-57-0
Ray Rice at Illinois (9-3-05) 12-55-0
Jawan Jamison at Syracuse (10-1-11) 24-48-0
Brian Leonard vs. Buffalo (8-30-03) * 6-11-0
* started at fullback
Nation’s Leader Among Freshmen
Redshirt freshman middle linebacker Steve Longa earned his first career start at Fresno State in the season-opener. It also extended a streak going back to 2010 of having a Saddle Brook native as the starting MLB on the Rutgers’ defense.
Current New England Patriot Steve Beauharnais started the last three years at middle linebacker. Both Beauharnais and Longa are from Saddle Brook.
Longa leads all freshmen nationally with 10.2 tackles per game in 2013. The New Jersey product has three games with 12-plus tackles this season.
Longa ranks 18th nationally in tackles per game and third in the conference.
Big Play Brandon
Junior wide receiver Brandon Coleman has shown throughout his career the knack for the big play and finding the end zone.
The Maryland native has a career yards per reception average of 19.6 and 10 of his 18 career touchdown receptions have covered 30 yards or more. Coleman’s 10 receiving touchdowns in 2012 tied Marco Battaglia’s school record for single-season receiving touchdowns set in 1995.
Coleman is tied for second in school history with 18 receiving touchdowns.
RU Career Receiving Touchdown Leaders
1. Tim Brown (2006-09) 20
2. Brandon Coleman (2011-present) 18
Mark Harrison (2009-12) 18
4. Kenny Britt (2006-08) 17
Chris Brantley (1990-93) 17
6. Tiquan Underwood (2005-08) 16
Marco Battaglia (1992-95) 16
Tres Moses (2001-05) 16
9. Brian Leonard (2003-06) 13
Bob Simms (1957-59) 13
Senior defensive end Marcus Thompson has become a force in his first season playing the R position in the Rutgers defense. Thompson is sixth in the conference in sacks this season.
Thompson picked up at least one sack in the third straight game in the 28-10 win over Eastern Michigan. He was the first player since Jamaal Westerman in 2007 to achieve the feat. Westerman totaled five sacks against Cincinnati, Syracuse and USF.
This Week’s Opponent: Houston
Second-year head coach Tony Levine leads the first-place Houston Cougars into Saturday’s game against Rutgers. Houston is 5-1 on the season after the Cougars lost their first game of the year last week to BYU (47-46). The Cougars, 2-0 in league play, own victories on the season against Southern (62-13), at Temple (22-13), Rice (31-26), at Texas San Antonio (59-28) and Memphis (25-15).
Houston leads the nation in turnovers gained (21) and turnover differential (+2.3). The Cougars also rank second nationally in blocked kicks with three this season.
The Cougars possess one of the nation’s most potent offensive attacks. Houston is 26th nationally in total offense (477.7), 18th in passing offense (312.3), 68th in rushing offense (165.3) and 15th in scoring offense (40.8).
On the defensive side of the ball, Houston is 97th in total defense (443.0), 50th in rushing defense (149.5), 116th in passing defense (293.5) and 48th in scoring defense (23.7).
Houston WR Deontay Greenberry ranks seventh nationally in receptions per game (6.7), 14th in receiving yards per game (112.3) and 22nd in receiving yards (674). He is 31st nationally with five receiving touchdowns.
Quarterback John O’Korn is 19th nationally with 14 touchdown passes and ranks in the top 50 nationally in passing efficiency (146.7), passing yards (1,494), passing yards per game (249.0) and passing yards per completion (12.9).
On defense, Derrick Matthews is 18th in the country and third in the conference with 10.2 tackles per game.
Since 2009, Rutgers has led all schools nationally with 33 blocked kicks/punts. During that time span, RU has scored 14 touchdowns via special teams.
Senior LB Jamal Merrell blocked the sixth kick of his career with a blocked field goal at No. 8 Louisville. On the season, Rutgers is tied for 17th in the nation with two blocked kicks.
Rutgers and UCLA tied for the national lead with eight blocked kicks/punts in 2012.
NCAA Team Blocked Kick Leaders Since 2009
1. Rutgers 33
2. Fresno State 24
The Fresno State game took four hours and 26 minutes to complete in elapsed time. It was the first RU game to eclipse four hours since the double-overtime win at Syracuse (4:20) in 2011 and the longest in stat files going back to the 2000 season.
The Scarlet Knights did not arrive home from the trip to Fresno until 10:45 a.m. ET the following morning.
The triple overtime win at SMU lasted four hours and thirty-four minutes. The 3OT win marked the first overtime win since RU downed USF, 20-17, in the first overtime on Nov. 5, 2011.
Rutgers competed in only one other three overtime game in its history at No. 15 West Virginia on Dec. 2, 2006 (41-39 loss).
The Scarlet Knights are 5-5 all-time in overtime contests.
Pipeline to the NFL
Rutgers had 15 players sign with NFL teams following the 2012 season, including a school-record seven selected in the NFL Draft.
All seven players selected in the 2013 NFL Draft are on active rosters this season.
2013 NFL Draft Class
Player NFL Organization Rd. Pick
Logan Ryan, CB New England Patriots 3 83
Duron Harmon, FS New England Patriots 3 91
Khaseem Greene, LB Chicago Bears 4 117
D.C. Jefferson, TE Arizona Cardinals 7 219
Jawan Jamison, RB Washington Redskins 7 228
Steve Beauharnais, LB New England Patriots 7 235
Marcus Cooper, CB San Francisco 49ers 7 252
2013 Free Agent Signees
R.J. Dill, OT Jacksonville Jaguars
Mark Harrison, WR Chicago Bears
Tim Wright, WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brandon Jones, CB New England Patriots
Ka’Lial Glaud, LB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Scott Vallone, DT New England Patriots
Mason Robinson, CB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Marvin Booker, LB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Flood Announces 2013 Captains
Kyle Flood announced the 2013 season captains as selected by members of the Rutgers football team. Senior defensive tackle Jamil Merrell, senior linebacker Jamal Merrell, junior wide receiver Brandon Coleman and junior quarterback Gary Nova were selected team captains.
The Merrell brothers are the first brothers to serve as team captains in the same season for Rutgers since Gabe and George Ludlow 120 years ago. The Ludlow brothers were team captains in 1893.
Three additional sets of brothers were tabbed Rutgers football captains, but not in the same year. Those captain combinations included Jason McCourty (2008) and Devin McCourty (2009), Bill Pickel (1982) and George Pickel (1985) and Clem Udovich (1985) and Pat Udovich (1989).
Getting it Done in the Classroom
The Rutgers football program has earned the 2012-13 BIG EAST Team Excellence Award, the conference office announced. It was the second-straight year the Scarlet Knights won the honor for football.
RU was chosen as the BIG EAST’s football winner based on the 2012-13 grade-point average (GPA) of each student-athlete who appeared on the RU roster as of the last contest of the championship segment in each conference-sponsored sport.
Rutgers football continues its established trend as one of the nation’s top programs in the classroom and on the playing field as the Scarlet Knights ranked tied for 11th nationally in Academic Progress Rate (APR), according to the latest multi-year APR figures released by the NCAA. RU was the lone state university to be ranked in the top 10 percent nationally in APR for the sixth-consecutive year. In addition, Rutgers was the only institution to win four bowl games while earning the APR honor in the top 10 percent over the previous six-year span.
In February, 28 football players were named to the BIG EAST All-Academic Football Team.
Coleman Named to Biletnikoff Award Watch List
Brandon Coleman has been named to the 2013 Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List. Given annually to the outstanding receiver in college football, the award will be presented live on Dec. 12 on The Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN.
Coleman is coming off one of the best receiving seasons in Rutgers history in 2012, tying a school record with 10 touchdown grabs. The 2012 All-BIG EAST Second Team selection led the team with 718 receiving yards last season and ranks tied for fifth on the school’s all-time list with 16 career touchdown catches.
Johnson, Lowery On Outland Trophy Watch List
Junior offensive tackle Kaleb Johnson and senior guard Antwan Lowery have been named to the initial Outland Trophy Watch List, announced by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). The Outland Trophy is given annually to the nation’s best interior lineman.
Johnson, one of 25 tackles on the preseason list, is a preseason All-American Athletic Conference selection by Athlon, Phil Steele and Sporting News. He started all 13 games in 2012, earning All-BIG EAST Second Team honors.
Lowery garnered First Team All-BIG EAST recognition after earning the nod in every game of the 2012 season at left guard. One of 20 guards on the list, Lowery is a Preseason All-American Athletic Conference First Team selection by Athlon and Phil Steele.
Johnson and Lowery each helped pave the way for a 1,000-yard rusher Jawan Jamison last season, while anchoring a line that allowed the eighth-fewest sacks in the nation.
Kroft Named National Tight End of the Week
The John Mackey Award (www.johnmackeyaward.com) named Tyler Kroft (Downingtown, Pa.) of Rutgers as John Mackey Tight End of the Week on September 25. The sophomore recorded six receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown to help guide Rutgers to 21 unanswered points in a 28-24 victory over Arkansas. Down 10-0, Kroft got Rutgers on the board with his second quarter touchdown reception and he also caught a 42 yard pass late in the game which was pivotal to the fourth quarter comeback win.
Kroft finished with career-highs in receptions (six) and receiving yards (133). He was the first RU tight end since Clark Harris in the 2006 Texas Bowl to post 100 yards receiving in a game.
Jamal Merrell on Bednarik Award Watch List
Jamal Merrell earned a spot on the 2013 Bednarik Award watch list, the Maxwell Football Club announced. The Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995.
It is the third preseason honor for Merrell, who also was named Phil Steele Preseason Second Team All-American Athletic Conference and Athlon Preseason All-Conference Third Team. He recorded 83 total tackles, 8.5 for loss and two blocked kicks in 13 starts as the strongside linebacker last season. Merrell picked up double-digit stops against Howard, Arkansas and Louisville.
Rutgers Injury Report - Houston Game
Player Injury Game Status
Brandon Arcidiacono Shoulder Out
Sam Bergen Ankle Out
Leonte Carroo Upper body Probable
Jeff Gignac Hamstring Out
Bryant Gross-Armiento Hamstring Out
Max Issaka Shoulder Probable
Paul James Lower leg Out
Sebastian Joseph Ankle Out
Kenneth Kirksey Tricep Out
Antwan Lowery Ankle Probable
Taylor Marini Shoulder Out
Julian Pinnix-Odrick Knee Out
Quron Pratt Lower body Probable
Lew Toler Arm Out
Knight Notes ...
• Rutgers has won six consecutive games when passing for less than 100 yards in a game. In the Eastern Michigan victory, the Scarlet Knights went 8-for-13 with 89 yards. The last time the team threw for less than 100 yards was a 19-14 win over FIU in 2010, with RU passing for 96 yards (8-for-16, one touchdown).
• Eastern Michigan rushed for 38 yards against the Scarlet Knights. RU improved to 9-3 under Kyle Flood when allowing less than 100 rushing yards and 2-2 with less than 50 rushing yards allowed.
• Rutgers has won three consecutive games against SEC competition.
• Rutgers has three touchdowns on special teams this year (two kickoff returns, one punt return).
• The Arkansas win marked the biggest second-half comeback since beating Vanderbilt 37-34 on the road in 2004. RU was down 27-3 in the third quarter against Vandy before the come-from-behind victory.
• The last time RU rallied from a 17-point deficit was the victory over No. 3 Louisville in 2006 when the Scarlet Knights were down 25-7 in the second quarter and came back to defeat the Cardinals 28-25.
• Rutgers has 925 yards of total offense and has scored 63 points against the Razorbacks over the last two seasons.
• True freshman running back Justin Goodwin saw his first significant action in his career, picking up 149 yards on the ground in the SMU win. De’Antwan Williams was the last RU true freshman to pick up 100 yards rushing in a game versus Texas Southern (Oct. 10, 2009). Ray Rice was the last true freshman to go over 100 in a conference game versus Cincinnati (Nov. 26, 2005).
• Goodwin also joined Rice as the last true freshman to record over 200 all-purpose yards in a game. The New Jersey native totaled 222 all-purpose yards against SMU. Rice went over the 200 all-purpose yard mark in 2005 against Connecticut.
• Rutgers is 20th nationally in sacks per game (2.8). The Scarlet Knights are 26th in tackles-for-loss per game (6.8).
• Rutgers is fifth nationally in first in the conference converting fourth downs in 2013. RU is 10-of-13 on fourth down conversions (77%). The Scarlet Knights are tied for fifth in the nation with 10 fourth down conversions this season.