7:00 PM ET, August 30, 2007
High Point Solutions Stadium, PISCATAWAY, NJ
Rice rushed for 184 yards and three touchdowns, Underwood had 10 catches for a school-record 248 yards and two TDs and Teel passed for a career-best 328 yards as the Scarlet Knights opened their most anticipated season with a 38-3 win over Buffalo on Thursday night.
"If I am running the ball, we can really play-action and hit Tiquan over the top on those deep balls," Rice said. "That's what happens when the running game is going. We can obviously get better this season. What you saw today was us hitting on both cylinders."
Coming off an 11-2 season and its first bowl victory, Rutgers gave the crowd of 43,091 -- the third largest at home in school history -- plenty to cheer about. It scored touchdowns on its first three series and amassed 563 yards in total offense against a Buffalo team that won two games last season and is picked to finish around the bottom of the Mid-American Conference again this year.
Rice, who rushed for 1,794 yards last season, scored 20 touchdowns and finished seventh in the Heisman voting, scored on runs 34, 12 and 41 yards.
"To have a great running attack with Ray in the backfield, it just opens it up for the passing game," said Underwood, who had 23 catches for 290 yards in 12 games last season.
Teel, who completed 16-of-23 passes, and Underwood combined on scoring pass plays of 65 and 66 yards. Teel's final pass was a 20-yard fourth-quarter pass that pushed Underwood past the old school mark of 237 yards set by Jack Emmer against Holy Cross in 1966.
That's when Rutgers wasn't a very good football program. All that has changed under coach Greg Schiano. The Scarlet Knights are now as big as Bruce Springsteen in New Jersey and they didn't need long to show why against Buffalo.
Schiano was thrilled with the sellout in one of eight games Rutgers has at home this season.
"To see it in game one, it used to be that we would have a big crowd when somebody else came to town," Schiano said. "So they came to see them. I tell the team all the time they are coming to see you now. That feels good."
Kordell Young returned the opening kickoff 56 yards and the Scarlet Knights needed only three plays to go 43 yards. Rice went the final 34 off the left side of his line for a 7-0 lead just 1:21 after the kickoff.
Teel and Underwood hooked up three times for 37 yards on the next series that Rice capped with a 12-yard run, breaking a tackle by Kendric Hawkins at the 5-yard line.
The next score was spectacular. Teel hit Underwood on a little slant pattern from left to right at the Buffalo 45. Underwood continued to sprint across the field, stopped at the Bulls 30 and cut back toward the left corner of the end zone. At the 10, he stopped again, dodged Hawkins and then got carried into the end zone by a Buffalo tackler for a 65-yard TD.
"It's so much easier when you can mix it up, run the ball well and throw the ball down the field," said Teel, who called an audible on Underwood's first touchdown. "Guys made plays and it made the offense so much easier to run."
Rice's fumble inside the Buffalo 30 stopped the next drive, but Teel, who previous best was 278 passing yards against West Virginia last season, and Underwood hooked up again midway through the second quarter. On a second-and-9, Underwood reached up with right hand to slow down a Teel pass, pulled it in with his left and went the final 45 yards for a 66-yard score and a 28-0 lead.
"We had a few busts in our coverage," Buffalo coach Turner Gill said. "Some guys kind of messed up in where they were supposed to be lined up. Teel put it on the money, [Underwood] made the catches and the plays and they made big-play opportunities."
A.J. Principe finally got Buffalo on the scoreboard with a 35-yard field goal with 3:19 left in the third quarter.
Rice got his final touchdown with 1:31 left in the third quarter on 41-yard run off the left side again. He now has 10 multiple touchdown games and 16 games of at least 100-yard rushing his 26 career contests.
Jeremy Ito, who missed from 40 and 56 yards earlier in the game, closed out the scoring with a 38-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Ray Rice's first TD gave the Scarlet Knights a quick 7-0 lead after only three offensive plays.
Gameball goes to... Tiquan Underwood. The WR caught 10 passes for a school-record 248 yards and two TDs.
Stat of the game... 10, 16. Rice has 10 multiple-TD games and 16 games of at least 100 yards rushing in 26 career contests.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-15||7-11|
|4th Down Conversions||0-2||0-1|
|TD||13:39||RAY RICE 34 YD RUN (JEREMY ITO KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 43 yards.
|TD||4:39||RAY RICE 12 YD RUN (JEREMY ITO KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||1:24||TIQUAN UNDERWOOD 65 YD PASS FROM MIKE TEEL (JEREMY ITO KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||5:07||TIQUAN UNDERWOOD 66 YD PASS FROM MIKE TEEL (JEREMY ITO KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 92 yards.
|FG||3:19||A.J. PRINCIPE 35 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 43 yards.
|TD||1:31||RAY RICE 41 YD RUN (JEREMY ITO KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 71 yards.
|FG||6:10||JEREMY ITO 38 YD FG|
Drive info: 13 plays, 63 yards.