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November 26, 2012

The Monday Morning Kickoff

Today marks the start of a huge week in the scarlet nation as Rutgers will look to cinch up its first ever BCS bid with a win against Louisville at home on Thursday night. Things are also heating up on the hardwood and the mat as the hoops and wrestling programs continue to pick up momentum. The Monday Morning Kickoff gets you caught up on all the latest news in Rutgers sports as a new week in the scarlet nation begins.

A view from the gridiron (Rutgers Football)
On the heels of the announcement that Rutgers officially accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten, the Scarlet Knights went out and dropped a 27-6 contest at Pitt on Saturday. The loss was Rutgers' first in conference play this season.

The defeat dropped Rutgers to 9-2 and its next opponent, Louisville, also dropped a Saturday contest to UConn 23-20 in triple overtime. Now, Rutgers and Louisville will square off inside High Point Solutions Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night with BCS bowl implications on the line.

"Louisville is going to be a big one and we're focused on them right now," said senior wide receiver Mark Harrison. "Pitt is over and done with, there's nothing we can really do about the past, but we can change the future. We're playing for a championship. We haven't played for a championship in the past. It means a lot to us."

Rutgers earned at least a share of the Big East title with Louisville's loss on Saturday, but the team is looking to earn a trip to the a BCS bowl, which would come with a win on Thursday.

The team practiced last night and according to head coach Kyle Flood, it was back to business with no hangover from Saturday's loss to Pittsburgh.

"You get excited, you get disappointed throughout the season, but you can't allow yourself to go up and down on Sunday," Flood said. "When the game is over, and you've watched the game, you've got to make the corrections and move on. You've got to take your own advice."

As a first-year head coach, Flood's 9-2 record is quite impressive but he is not the only one enjoying success in his new role. Starting senior right tackle R.J. Dill is also having his best season to date. But the Maryland transfer saw the potential for a big season when he arrived on campus this past January.

"I saw the potential to see this opportunity, especially with the guys we had coming back offensively and defensively," Dill said. "It's a great opportunity and I'm excited to be a part of it."

Thursday night's game will bring a host of recruits to Piscataway and for a complete list of those visitors, click here.

On the mat (Rutgers wrestling)
Rutgers swept all three of its opponents in the Northeast Duals when the Scarlet Knights defeated Columbia (30-6), Binghamton (30-9) and Army (26-15) at Troy, N.Y. inside the Edward F. McDonough Sports Complex on Saturday. The victories helped Rutgers improve to a 4-0 record on the season.

The RU grapplers won 23 of the 29 contested matches from their opponents during the Duals. Next up for the Scarlet Knights is a trip to the Penn State Open in University Park, Pa., on Sunday, Dec. 2.

Last week's news of Rutgers joining the Big Ten served as a tremendous boost to the wrestling program as it will soon join the most elite wrestling conference in the NCAA.

"It's the grandaddy of them all. It's the best conference in the country, it's the best wrestling conference," said Rutgers head coach Scott Goodale. "It's as big as it gets and it's the highest level of the sport. Tremendous coaches and some of the best athletes in the world."

The take from center court (Rutgers basketball)
The Rutgers basketball team picked up a pair of non-conference victories this week, pushing their record to 4-1 on the season. Led by 25 points from sophomore guard Eli Carter and 24 from his classmate Myles Mack, the Scarlet Knights rallied from a 10-point first half deficit to defeat UNC-Greensboro 87-80 on the road yesterday afternoon.

"What we did was defend the three better. What we did was make it more difficult in the second half and we executed," said head coach Mike Rice. "Those two things kind of brought home the game. Whether it was Myles or Eli or Wally Judge or Malick Kone, I think our execution [was better] and we've been working on that. Credit to our guys for having a purpose down at the end."

On Tuesday, Rutgers built an 18-point lead and hung on for an 81-79 home victory over Boston University. Carter tossed in 20 points off the bench, while Kone produced a career-high 17.

Rutgers plays just twice on the hardwood in the next two weeks, visiting Mississippi this Saturday for the SEC/BIG EAST challenge and squaring off with Iona next Saturday in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden.

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