Rutgers faces Kansas, looking to end 2-game losing streak
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Despite having six players kicked off the team minutes before the season opener, there was a lot of optimism at Rutgers after beating Norfolk State.
The Scarlet Knights found they had two decent quarterbacks and the schedule seemed to be in their favor.
Washington State was coming off a stunning loss to Portland State. Penn State was upset by Temple and Kansas lost to South Dakota State. There was a chance for a 4-0.
The high hopes were quickly dashed and Rutgers (1-2) heads into its homecoming game against Kansas looking to snap a two-game losing streak in what has turned out to be a messy season.
Star receiver Leonte Carroo was suspended indefinitely after an altercation outside High Point Solutions Stadium following a stunning last-minute loss to Washington State. Coach Kyle Flood was suspended for three games for improperly contacting a teacher over a player's grade.
Rutgers was outclassed by Penn State and now the Kansas game becomes more important with Michigan State, Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin all on tap next month.
''We really need a win,'' defensive back Anthony Cioffi said. ''We didn't take care of business, so that's what we're taking care of.''
The game has even more importance because Rutgers will have next week off, linebacker Steve Longa said.
''If you lose one, you lose two, you lose three then you're like, `Oh my god, are we going to lose four?' But I don't think that' what's going to happen with this team,'' he said.
Kansas is coming off a bye week after two home losses, the last to Memphis.
Jayhawks coach David Beaty spent the bye week evaluating his team and trying to get it to focus on technique, alignment, assignment and other details.
Kansas will come into the game with a 31-game losing streak on the road, last winning at UTEP 34-7 on Sept. 12, 2009.
''That's not going to determine how we play in this football game,'' Beaty said. ''It's going to matter when we show up and we execute accurately and we do it with great effort and we outplay them.''
RUTGERS QUARTERBACK: While Rutgers was limited to 3 points against Penn State, quarterback Chris Laviano has been on target. He leads the Big Ten with 72 percent of passes completed (54 of 75 for 593 yards and four touchdowns) and is fourth with a pass efficiency mark of 148.0. The junior has hit 25 of 32 passes on first down with 12 first downs and two touchdowns this season.
QUARTERBACK QUESTIONS: Montell Cozart earned the starting job for Kansas during fall camp, but his grasp of the job is tenuous. Junior college transfer Deondre Ford and freshman Ryan Willis have both taken snaps the first two games, and Cozart has not been consistent. ''It's been good watching him continue to try to build himself as a quarterback,'' Kansas coach David Beaty said, ''along with the rest of the guys.''
SCARLET KNIGHTS RUNNING: If Rutgers is going to have a chance, it needs to do a better job in the run game. The Scarlet Knights allowed Penn State to rush for 330 yards and four touchdowns in the 28-3 loss. Rutgers gained 43 yards on 32 carries. Ke'aun Kinner leads Kansas with 270 yards on 43 carries, a 6.3 yard average. He has scored three TDs.
WIDE RECEIVER WOES: Josh Stanford and Bobby Hartzog have both been slowed by injuries, making things even tougher on whomever is under center. Stanford will be a game-time decision while Hartzog is expected to play. ''We're optimistic he'll be ready to go,'' Beaty said.
GRANT RETURNS: Rutgers receiver-return specialist Janarion Grant scored on two kickoff returns and one punt return in the first two games. Penn State shut him down, limiting him to a one-yard loss on his lone punt return. He had eight yards on his only kickoff return.
''This guy, I mean, he kept them in the game against Washington State almost by himself with some of the crazy things he did in the return game,'' Beaty said. ''Very explosive, man. What a great player to watch.''
Sports Writer Dave Skretta contributed to this report.