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Two Surprise Teams in the East: Rutgers and Penn State

Raise your hands if in the preseason you thought Rutgers would start 5-0. If your hand is up you are a liar. Politics is clearly in your future. OK, raise your hand if you thought Penn State would be 4-2 and 2-0 in the Big Ten? Put your hand down, liar.

Looking at the Big Ten and Big East standings, you see those two teams at or near the top. The Penn State story under first year coach Bill O’Brien is one of the best stories in college football, maybe eve. After the horrendous off-season with the whole Jerry Sandusky scandal and the obliteration of Joe Paterno, and the subsequent NCAA sanctions many people claimed were as bad or worse than the “death penalty”, the Nittany Lions are 4-2. Most people did not have Penn State winning four games all season after losing players like Silas Redd and Rob Bolden. Starters jumped ship after they realized Big Ten Championship Games, bowl games and championships were now unattainable during their career. Who could blame them?

But the guys who stayed have played well under Coach O’Brien. After starting 0-2, losing games they probably feel they should have won against Ohio and Virginia, Penn State has now reeled off four wins in a row. Looking at the remainder of their schedule, 9-3 looks like a real possibility. Look, what happened to those kids was disgusting and horrific, but if you can’t feel happy for the p0laeyers, fans, students and alumni at Penn State after what they went through, then you just aren’t a college football fan.

Rutgers lost their coach Greg Schiano to the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. While he has gone 1-4 and managed to really tick off two-time Super Bowl winning coach Tom Coughlin, the Scarlet Knights have been reeling off wins. Rutgers has road wins at South Florida and Arkansas on their resume as well as a win over UConn. Syracuse is this week’s opponent. The two big games left of the schedule come in the last three weeks when they will play Cincinnati on the road November 17 and Louisville at home on November 29. Jawan Jamison already has 601 yards rushing in the Scarlet Knights five games this season.  Look for the Scarlet Knights to be participating in a big bowl game this season. First year head coach Kyle Flood should be a candidate for some Coach of the Year awards. Big East Coach of the Year would be nice, but for national Coach of the Year, how do you not like Bill O’Brien?

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