Pinstripe Bowl Preview Capsule
December 29th, 2011 by Jim Field
Iowa State (6-6) vs. Rutgers (8-4), 3:20 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: Rutgers by 2.
Series record: First meeting.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The Cyclones try to finish with a winning record, and the fourth bowl victory in program history. The first three have all come since 2000. Coach Paul Rhoads just signed a new 10-year contract extension and another victory would keep the mood positive heading into the offseason. Rutgers is trying to reach nine victories for the third time since coach Greg Schiano took over in 2001 and win its fifth straight bowl. The Scarlet Knights had made five straight postseason appearances before going 4-8 last year.
Rutgers defensive front seven vs. Iowa State’s offensive line. Scarlet Knights are quick and relatively light up front. Tackles Justin Francis and Scott Vallone are their biggest linemen at 275 pounds each. But Rutgers likes to blitz and ranked 17th in the nation in sacks (2.67 per game) and 16th in tackles for loss (7.25 per game). Anchored by All-Big 12 LT Kelechi Osemele, who checks in at 6-foot-6 and 347 pounds, the Cyclones’ line is one of the biggest Rutgers has faced this season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Iowa State: QB Jared Barnett. The redshirt freshman took over as the starter midway through the season. He ran for 435 yards and passed for 1,178, and led the Cyclones on a three-game winning streak that included a 37-31 double-overtime upset of Oklahoma State. LB A.J. Klein was co-defensive player of the year in the Big 12.
Rutgers: QBs Chas Dodds and Gary Nova. The job has been shuffled between the junior Dodds and the freshman Nova all season and the starter for the Pinstripe Bowl will be a game-time decision. Despite inconsistent play from the quarterbacks, WR Mohamed Sanu set a Big East record with 109 catches.
FACTS & FIGURES
Rutgers KR Jeremy Deering averages 31.2 yards per kickoff return, second-best in Big East history … Rhoads and Schiano are both former defensive coordinators, and they have matched wits before. Rhoads was defensive coordinators for eight seasons at Pittsburgh before returning to his home state to take over the Cyclones in 2009. … Iowa State ranks 117th in the nation in turnovers committed with 32. Rutgers ranks sixth in the country in takeaways with 31.