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A whole new feeling at Rutgers

Published Nov. 28, 2006

With a game ball in one hand, a teary Brian Leonard used a knight's sword as a baton to direct the Rutgers band in the school alma mater in yet another celebration at the birthplace of college football on Saturday.

It was pure joy at not just a 38-7 victory over Syracuse that moved No. 15 Rutgers to within a win of earning its first Big East championship, but the sense of accomplishment that has overtaken this program since Greg Schiano took over as coach six years ago.

This was a team that went 3-20 in Schiano's first two seasons, and Leonard and his fellow seniors experienced it all. Their final home game was a time to celebrate before concentrating on next weekend's road game at No. 7 West Virginia, which was upset by South Florida. If the Scarlet Knights win, they earn a berth in the Bowl Championship Series.

"There was so much going through my head," Leonard said in recounting his maestro moments. "The flashbacks of what this program has gone through. Just looking at the team seeing the seniors with tears in their eyes.

"They know there is a lot of season left, but just taking them out on a win at home is awesome," said the fifth-year senior who rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns and became the Scarlet Knights' all-time leading scorer.

The running back has 266 points. The scoring mark was 261, set by kicker Kennan Starzell from 1976-79.

The moment was not lost on sophomore quarterback Mike Teel, who threw TD passes of 38 and 28 yards to Kenny Britt a week after being picked off four times in a loss to Cincinnati.

"Words couldn't describe that moment," Teel said. "That's something $10-million couldn't buy, the feeling he must have had. I'm so happy for him."

The 10-win season is only the second in school history.

Ray Rice ran for 107 yards and a touchdown, and Jeremy Ito added a 32-yard field goal.

Three questions into his postgame conference, Schiano addressed the coaching job at Miami, where he was defensive coordinator from 1999-2000.

"My philosophy is I focus on the things I have control over and can make a difference in," Schiano said. "The whole Miami thing, I've said it for six weeks, I'm very happy here, I have no plans to go anywhere else."

Schiano, though, never said he was staying at Rutgers.

No. 8 Louisville 48, Pittsburgh 24

PITTSBURGH - Brian Brohm threw four touchdowns against a Panthers defense that again showed little resistance and Louisville took another step toward a conference title.

If Louisville defeats Connecticut Saturday and Rutgers loses at West Virginia, the Cardinals will represent the Big East in a BCS game.

The Cardinals played like a team ready to go to a major bowl, outscoring Pitt 34-3 during one stretch after falling behind 14-7 in the first quarter.

Brohm, often standing in the pocket as long as he wanted against a nonexistent rush, threw scoring passes of 42 yards to Mario Urrutia, 9 yards and 1 yard to Gary Barnidge and 75 yards to Harry Douglas. Brohm finished 21-for-29 for 337 yards.

Pitt led 14-7 after scoring twice in a 48-second span of the first quarter. LaRod Stephens-Howling ran 6 yards for a touchdown to finish off an 80-yard drive and, after Sam Bryant recovered Kolby Smith's fumble, receiver Derek Kinder threw a 21-yard TD to Oderick Turner.

CINCINNATI 26, UCONN 23: Derrick Stewart caught nine balls for 166 yards, including a 50-yard reception with less than a minute left to set up the winning field goal for visiting Cincinnati.