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August 30, 2007

Balanced Rutgers rolls over Buffalo, 38-3

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - There's more to No. 16 Rutgers than Ray Rice running. There's also Tiquan Underwood catching and Mike Teel throwing.

Rice rushed for 184 yards and three touchdowns, Underwood had 10 catches for a school-record 248 receiving yards and two TDs and Teel passed for a career-best 328 yards as the Scarlet Knights opened their most anticipated season with a 38-3 win over Buffalo on Thursday night.

Coming off an 11-2 season and its first bowl victory, Rutgers gave the crowd of 43,091 - the third largest at home in school history - plenty to cheer about, scoring touchdowns on its first three series and rolling up 563 yards in total offense against a Buffalo team that won two games last season and is picked to finish around the bottom of the Mid-American Conference again this year.

Rice, who rushed for 1,794 yards last season, scored 20 touchdowns and finished seventh in the Heisman voting, scored on runs 34, 12 and 41 yards.

Teel, who completed 16-of-23 passes, and Underwood combined on scoring pass plays of 65 and 66 yards. Teel's final pass was a 20-yard fourth-quarter pass that pushed Underwood past the old school mark of 237 yards set by Jack Emmer against Holy Cross in 1966.

That's when Rutgers wasn't a very good football program. All that has changed under coach Greg Schiano. The Scarlet Knights are now as big as Bruce Springsteen in New Jersey and they didn't need long to show why against Buffalo, which is coming off a 2-10 season.

Kordell Young returned the opening kickoff 56 yards and the Scarlet Knights needed only three plays to go 43 yards. Rice went the final 34 off the left side of his line for a 7-0 lead just 1:21 after the kickoff.

Teel and Underwood hooked up three times for 37 yards on the next series that Rice capped with a 12-yard run, breaking a tackle by Kendric Hawkins at the 5-yard line.

The next score was spectacular. Teel hit Underwood on a little slant pattern from left to right at the Buffalo 45. Underwood continued to sprint across the field, stopped at the Bulls 30 and cut back toward the left corner of the end zone. At the 10, he stopped again, dodged Hawkins and then got carried into the end zone by a Buffalo tackler for a 65-yard TD.

A Rice fumble inside the Buffalo 30 stopped the next drive, but Teel, who previous best was 278 passing yards against West Virginia last season, and Underwood hooked up again midway through the second quarter. On a second-and-9, Underwood reached up with right hand to slow down a Teel pass, pulled it in with his left and went the final 45 yards for a 66-yard score and a 28-0 lead.

A.J. Principe finally got Buffalo on the scoreboard with a 35-yard field goal with 3:19 left in the third quarter.

Rice got his final touchdown with 1:31 left in the third quarter on 41-yard run off the left side again. He now has 10 multiple touchdown games and 16 games of at least 100-yard rushing his 26 career contests.

Jeremy Ito, who missed from 40 and 56 yards earlier in the game, closed out the scoring with a 38-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

For more coverage of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, check out ScarletNation.com.

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