Insight Bowl


Arizona State 45

(7-5, 3-2 away)

Rutgers 40

(7-5, 4-3 home)

Coverage: ESPN

8:30 PM ET, December 27, 2005

Case Field, Cleveland, OH

1 2 3 4 T
ASU 7 10 14 1445
RUTG 17 7 6 1040

Top Performers

Passing: R. Carpenter (ASU) - 467 YDS, 4 TD

Rushing: R. Burgess (ASU) - 17 CAR, 102 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: M. Miller (ASU) - 5 REC, 135 YDS, 2 TD

Scarlet Knights focused on Insight opportunity

PHOENIX (AP) -- Rutgers defied long odds to earn its first bowl bid in 28 years. Winning the game will require another upset.

The Scarlet Knights (7-4) face high-scoring, pass-crazy Arizona State (6-5) in the Insight Bowl on Tuesday night, and the Sun Devils' array of talented receivers can't wait to see Rutgers try to use its trademark man-to-man coverage against them.

"Whenever corners press and play man coverage, you've got to get excited," said ASU wide receiver Derek Hagan, a third-team all-American. "You're definitely looking for the ball."

Rutgers' best hopes are to put pressure on Sun Devil quarterback Rudy Carpenter and control the ball to keep Arizona State's offense off the field.

"We're going to do our best to maintain possession of the football," Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano said. "It doesn't mean just running the ball, but being efficient in our passing game and play a little keep away. That is part of our plan. But when push comes to shove, we need to play defense against a very good offense, and our guys are ready to do that."

Oddsmakers have made the Sun Devils, playing 10 miles from their campus, a 10-point favorite. That is down from 13½, probably because 20 Arizona State players and several coaches missed practice with the flu last week.

All the players are back, though, and after a brief break for Christmas, the team returned to practice on Sunday night.

"Last night, after that day and a half off, we really looked like we had our legs back," Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter said. "Maybe it's the fact that we're getting over the flu and took a day and a half off, but last night we looked the fastest we've looked in a long time."

By an odd coincidence, the game is a rematch of the 1978 Garden State Bowl, Rutgers' only other postseason experience, where Arizona State, in its final bowl game under coach Frank Kush, beat Rutgers 34-18.

The Scarlet Knights played Princeton in the first intercollegiate football game on Nov. 6, 1869, and won 6-4. But in the modern era, Rutgers has struggled.

They have had a few winning seasons, but mostly the Scarlet Knights have been overmatched, and the rebuilding under Schiano, former defensive coordinator at Miami, has been no overnight miracle.

He took over in 2000, and in 2002, the team was 1-11 and winless in the Big East for the third consecutive season. Even last season ended badly, with five consecutive losses after a 4-2 start. But perseverance paid off, and Schiano has been rewarded with a seven-year contract extension.

Making it to the postseason, Schiano said, "lends credibility to everything we've been talking about the last five years, that the plan is working."

The foundation of Rutgers' success are the front four of a defense that led the nation with 46 sacks.

"The film doesn't lie," Koetter said. "You turn on the film and watch Rutgers play and you have to be impressed. I don't care if you're playing Alameda Junior High, it's hard to get 46 sacks in a season."

Leading the way is all-Big East defensive end Ryan Neill, who had 13 tackles for loss and eight sacks. The Scarlet Knights had nine sacks in their regular season finale, a 44-9 victory over Cincinnati.

With Arizona State averaging nearly 42 passes per game, Neill is well aware of his role on Tuesday night.

"They're very solid up front, one of the best we've played against this year as far as the offensive line," Neill said. "But they're going to throw the ball a lot. I think I'm going to get an opportunity to rush the passer. For us to have success in this game, our defensive line is going to have to do a very good job of getting pressure on the quarterback."

Carpenter, a redshirt freshman who took over from injured Sam Keller eight games into the season, directs a passing attack that ranks third nationally at 365 yards per game. The Sun Devils have averaged 504.5 yards in offense, fourth-best in NCAA Division I.

In four games as a starter, Carpenter has completed 100 of 151 passes for 1,362 yards and eight touchdowns, with one interception.

Rutgers' last run-in with a high-powered passing game was a 56-5 loss at Louisville in the next-to-last game of the season.


Passing Leaders

T. Kelly59.42114225
M. Bercovici61.81445124
G. Nova57.228512212
C. Laviano39.310701

Rushing Leaders

D. Foster19410815.69
D. Richard844785.74
D. Peoples1154473.93
J. Hicks694406.42

Receiving Leaders

J. Strong82116514.210
D. Foster6268811.13
L. Carroo55108619.710
A. Turzilli1034734.74