The Rutgers Scarlet Knights began the 2011 season with low expectations following a 4-8 campaign that ended in a a six-game losing streak. Rutgers halted its losing skid by routing FCS powder puff North Carolina Central, 48-0. It was the Scarlet Knights’ largest shutout win in a season opener since 1918.

However, it meant nothing considering Rutgers also shutout Norfolk State 31-0 in their 2010 season opener. Rutgers suffered their first setback of the season in the following week against North Carolina. Sophomore speedster Giovani Bernard gained 81 yards and two touchdowns while Rutgers leading rusher, DeAntwan Williams, could only muster 15 yards in nine carries. As a unit, North Carolina’s offense outgained Rutgers on the ground 132 yards to one. The Scarlet Knights scored a touchdown to pull within two with 10:40 remaining but were unable to start another scoring drive. The Scarlet Knights ultimately suffered its first loss, 24-22.

Against Ohio, Rutgers overpowered the undefeated Ohio Bobcats in a 38-26, led by junior receiver Mohamed Sanu’s record-setting day. Sanu caught a school-record 16 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns.

Rutgers faced its biggest challenge in the Big East opener on the road at the Carrier Dome against the Syracuse Orangemen. Trailing 13-6 with time winding down in regulation, the Rutgers gambled on a fourth-and-nine from the Syracuse 33-yard line.

[Read more after the jump]