Rutgers Upsets No. 17 Pittsburgh

By Richard Kent
Updated: October 26, 2008

CONNECTICUT — It took a long time this season. Actually until week eight. Going into the season, Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel and wideout Kenny Britt were the best combination in the Big East.

Maybe one of the best in the country. They weren’t quite Unitas to Berry but they were heralded. The two made little noise this season as the Scarlet Knights raced off to a 2-5 record.

They lost to Navy on the road. They found ways to lose to Cincinnati and West Virginia on the road when both games could have been won. Some quiet confidence developed as they beat UConn 12-10 last week at home as the Huskies’ kicker missed at the end of the game.

Teel had finally won a close game this year. The fifth year senior, who had endured much booing at home, captured a big victory.

Saturday, Rutgers traveled to No. 17 Pittsburgh, maybe the best team in the Big East. They were heavy underdogs and hadn’t beaten a ranked opponent on the road since September of 1988 when they beat Penn State.

The Panthers scored on the first drive and then Teel and Britt took over. Pittsburgh did not know what hit them. Teel threw for a Big East record five touchdown passes in the first half and ended the game with six.

Britt, considered by many to be a first round NFL choice, had five receptions for 143 yards and three scores. Most importantly, he had no drops. Scouts in the press box for the UConn game questioned Britt’s hands.

He proved them wrong on Saturday. Britt has the speed and power to be a top player in the NFL, but this season he has dropped many passes in key positions. Not against Pittsburgh.

With the 54-34 win, Rutgers improved to 3-5 (2-2 Big East) going into a bye week. They still have an outside shot at winning the very wide open Big East. They also have won four straight against Pittsburgh.

Rutgers next plays on November 8 against Syracuse, perhaps the worst team in the Big East. Britt should have a field day because the Orangeman’s pass defense is porous and they have no one who can keep up with him.

If he continues the level of play he had against the Panthers, the Scarlet Knights can still finish the season at 6-6 and be bowl eligible once again. That might be good and bad news for Rutgers fans.

They might be able to take another trip to Canada for their fourth consecutive bowl game, but Britt may come out early for the NFL. All and all for Rutgers, the Pittsburgh game may have started a new season.