PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) After picking up his first win, Rutgers coach Chris Ash is facing a lot of challenging teams in the next month.
It starts on Saturday with a game against New Mexico and its funky offense and finishes with a brutal opening three weeks in the Big Ten Conference with games against No. 13 Iowa, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan.
The Lobos (1-1) run a unique option offense that is bound to test the Scarlet Knights, who are coming off a 52-14 win over Howard in a game in which they trailed early by two touchdowns.
''It's a different style of offense,'' Ash said. ''It's not Army. It's not Navy. So when you hear option, don't confuse it with that. It's not the same. The sets are different. The plays are different. They have more threats at passing the ball, also. Quarterback is different. I mean, it's different. I mean, although there are some similarities, you say triple option is triple option, it's like calling spread offenses all the same. They're not all the same.''
New Mexico is coming off a 32-31 loss to rival New Mexico State in a game in which it turned the ball over twice, gave up a big play late in the first half and failed to convert late with the game on the line.
Coach Bob Davie and his team are coming to New Jersey to face their first Big Ten opponent.
''Can we go up there and play our best game of the year? We're capable enough,'' Davie said. ''We can go win this football game. We're capable enough, but we absolutely have to play our best game.''
HURTING LOBOS: Two of New Mexico's top players running back Teriyon Gipson and linebacker Dakota Cox are going to miss the game with injuries. Gipson has scored four touchdowns this season and leads the team in rushing with 243 yards. He also returns kickoffs. Cox has led the team in tackles in each of his first three seasons, and has a team-high 20 tackles despite missing most of the second half against New Mexico State.
Diquon Woodhouse, Richard McQuarley and Daryl Chestnut will get turns filling in for Gipson. Alex Hart will replace Cox.
RUTGERS QUARTERBACK: Chris Laviano remains the Scarlet Knights starting quarterback but don't be surprised if Ash throws in a change-up and uses Gio Rescigno and freshman Tylin Oden to make the power spread offense a little more mobile.
KICKOFF: New Mexico flew into New Jersey on Thursday so players could acclimate to the change in time zone. With a noon kickoff, the Lobos are technically looking at a 10 a.m. start for fans in Albuquerque. As far as getting a chance to see New York City, Davie told his players their best shot was to look out the window of their airplane when it landed at Newark Liberty International Airport.
GRANTED: The biggest test for New Mexico will be trying to stop Rutgers' Janarion Grant. The senior wide receiver/returner scored on an 84-yard kickoff return and ran for 106 yards, including two touchdowns, in the win over Howard. He also caught two passes.
AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org