Syracuse University football coach Doug Marrone has been heaping praise on the Rutgers defense this week.
And in turn, Scarlet Knights coach Kyle Flood has been highly complementary of the Orange offense, particularly its passing game.
The two units, each ranking as the best in the Big East, will collide at noon today at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, N.J. The game will be televised on the Big East Network (TW19).
Were playing an opponent that is one of the top defenses in the country, truly, they make things happen, said Marrone, whose team is 2-3 overall following a 14-13 win over Pittsburgh last Friday night in its conference opener.
Rutgers (5-0, 2-0) is ranked No. 20 in this weeks Associated Press poll, and is one of 15 unbeaten teams left in the nation. Its six straight wins dating back to last season is the eighth-longest active streak in the country.
And while the Scarlet Knights have the best running back in the conference thus far, as Marrone would tell you, it all starts with their defense.
They rank second in the nation in rush defense (60.6 yards per game), fifth in scoring defense (10.8 points per game), and have forced the second most interceptions (10) in the country.
They lead the Big East in all three categories, and have allowed a total of 16 points in a pair of conference victories.
Statistically, this is probably the best defense that weve faced since (Ive) been here, statistically, Marrone said.
The Oranges passing offense, despite coming off its worst showing of the season, still leads the Big East at over 310 yards per game. The offense also leads the conference with 25.4 first downs per game.
Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, who threw for a season-low 185 yards and had his first game of the season without a touchdown pass against Pittsburgh, still ranks in the top 20 nationally in completions per game, passing yards and total offense.
Probably our greatest challenge of the year is coming up (today), to try to contain this offensive football team by Syracuse, said Flood, who is in his first year as the Rutgers head coach after serving seven seasons as an assistant.
It will be a great challenge to our defense, not only to match up with the best quarterback and receiving core in our conference, but a fine group of running backs as well, he added.
The Orange jumped from the No. 83 ranked rushing defense to No. 59 this week after holding Pittsburgh to 27 net yards rushing. The Panthers had been averaging over 187 yards per game on the ground.
The Syracuse defense has its hands full again this week. Rutgers sophomore Jawan Jamison leads the conference with 120.2 yards per game. He has run for more than 100 yards in every game this season, and is tied with Ray Rice for the most consecutive 100-yard games to open a season in school history.
Rutgers is among the national leaders in time of possession, ranking 11th at over 33 minutes per game.
Theyre going to move the football, they make big plays, and they dont give you a lot of opportunities because they burn up so much time, Marrone said.
Syracuse is looking to win its first road game since Oct. 8 of last year at Tulane. Its last conference road win was at Rutgers, on Nov. 13, 2010.