Run and Shoot: Halftime In Piscataway

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Halftime In Piscataway

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - It's 17-7 at halftime, as Rutgers has turned in a strong first-half performance, and apparently shaken off last week's slow start and eventual loss.

Here are a few observations from the first half.

Rutgers has made several key improvements from last Saturday's loss.

For starters, Mike Teel has been much better at finding Kenny Britt thus far tonight. The sophomore from Bayonne, N.J. has 75 yards thus far on four catches. Last week at halftime, Britt had 57 yards on a pair of catches, but had been open much more than Teel had found him.

As mentioned before, Ito's punting has been much more solid. He's averaging 43.5 yards per kick thus far, after averaging 35.3 last week. That diference in field position has definitely helped Rutgers' cause. Also of note, Rutgers is up in the turnover margin, 2-1, a nice turnaround from last week, particularly against the nation's best turnover-margin team in Cincinnati.

The major concern for Rutgers thus far is that Ray Rice has not really gotten going. His touchdown run notwithstanding, Rice can't be happy with 31 yards on 16 carries. The Bearcats have once again dared Mike Teel to win the game, and Teel, to one degree or another, has obliged.

Mind you, Teel's numbers haven't been fantastic - 11 of 16 for 155 yards, no interceptions and no touchdowns - but he's gotten the job done. Of course, getting a touchdown out of the defense doesn't hurt either.

For Cincinnati, Ben Mauk has shown a fair amount of poise at times under center, especially on the first third down of the contest, but his stats at halftime are ugly: eight of 21, one touchdown and one interception.

The other major issue for the Bearcats is penalties. In terms of yardage, it isn't too bad: Cinci has lost 32 yards on flags to 30 for Rutgers, but the Bearcats have been penalized seven times, compared to three for the Knights, and they've come at bad times: two on the opening drive (not showing a great level of poise), and two in the red zone leading up to the Ray Rice touchdown (once Rutgers gets in the red zone, help from the defense is certainly not required).

On the whole, it wasn't a particularly pretty first half, but Rutgers will take it. Will they take this one the rest of the way, or will Cinci take it back? We're about to find out.

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