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 PISCATAWAY, NJ (AP) -Rutgers' national title hopes aren't the only thing that's taken a hit with consecutive losses to Maryland and Cincinnati.
Running back Ray Rice's Heisman campaign has been stuck in neutral, part of a ground game struggling to gain any momentum. Rice, who ran for a school-record 1,794 yards last year, has 622 this season but fewer than 100 in each loss.
Part of the problem is that the offensive line is still searching for some consistency, after losing standouts Darnell Stapleton (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Cameron Stephenson (Green Bay Packers) to graduation.
``We definitely have young guys playing at some positions,'' Rice said. ``They've played enough football now that they know what happens if they're one second too late or if they don't maintain their blocks.''
Maybe a different view will help. After opening the season with five straight home games, Rutgers finally hits the road when it travels to Syracuse on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights are the last team in the 119-team Football Bowl Subdivision to play on the road this year.
Not that coach Greg Schiano is complaining. Schiano hopes getting away from Rutgers Stadium will allow for some much-needed bonding.
``I always like getting the team on the road the first time, just you and the guys,'' he said. ``It lets you do some things you can't do when you're at home.''
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FEELING TROPICAL: Cincinnati is off to its best start in over five decades and likely on its way to a pretty decent bowl game. But the Bearcats already have a tropical destination in mind for next season: Hawaii.
Cincinnati will travel to play the Warriors at the end of the 2008 season, a reward for the players who have built the program and a gift to the supporters that have helped the school make great strides.
``We need to continue to build the program and it's great for alumni support and donors,'' coach Brian Kelly said. ``It's a big trip for us.''
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SLOW STARTS: Despite having the nation's second-ranked offense, Louisville doesn't exactly hit the ground running.
``We've just got to start making plays early,'' said center Eric Wood. ``We've been unfortunate to catch a few bad bounces and breaks and sometimes it feels like you know we can't catch a break, where in the past, it seemed like teams have been saying that when they played us.''
The Cardinals have fallen behind early in each of their three losses: They trailed Kentucky 13-0 in the first quarter, Syracuse 21-7 at the half and fell behind 21-0 in last week's loss to Utah.
The miscues can be small, but for a team with the nation's 99th-ranked defense, watching the offense walk off the field and the defense walk on can spell disaster.
``It seems like we'll have 10 guys do a great job on a play and one guy misses a block, or one guy drops a catch or there's a bad throw and a play that could have gone for 70 yards is now a gain of three,'' Wood said. ``In the past it seemed like we were making those plays.''
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POSITIVE ORANGE: Despite one of the worst home losses in the history of the program - a 55-14 debacle against West Virginia - the Orange are trying to stay positive even as coach Greg Robinson searches for a way to turn the team around.
``There are still good things going on,'' said freshman defensive back Mike Holmes, who had a game-high 13 tackles in his second start in the defensive backfield. ``Everybody wants to see this going in a positive direction. We just got to go along for the ride.''
Before the Mountaineers visited, Syracuse was tied for first atop the Big East, thanks to its stunning victory at Louisville. Now, the Orange face an ornery Rutgers team coming off two straight losses on Saturday in the Carrier Dome.
``We played great against Louisville, and if we start playing like we did against Louisville we'll start winning games,'' safety Max Suter said. ``We're just not playing like that.''
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HURTING WHITE: West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez hopes quarterback Pat White's bruised sternum is healed in time for the eighth-ranked Mountaineers' next game Oct. 20 against home against Mississippi State.
White was hurt at the end of an option run in a 55-14 win over Syracuse on Saturday. He sprained a joint that links the collarbone and sternum.
``He'll be limited this week in practice. Hopefully by the end of the week he'll start to do more,'' Rodriguez said. ``Thankfully we've got an open week.''
White, who bruised a thigh a week earlier in a loss at South Florida, was replaced for the second straight week by Jarrett Brown.
When he left the game, White was 12-of-15 for 148 yards and one touchdown and had 14 carries for 89 yards and another TD.
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HONORS: White's performance against Syracuse was good enough to win Big East offensive player of the week honors.
Cincinnati linebacker Ryan Manalac was named the defensive player of the week. He had 11 tackles against the Scarlet Knights and clinched the victory with an interception with 1:19 remaining.
Bearcats punter Kevin Huber was the special teams player of the week. He averaged 51.5 yards on four punts against Rutgers, and had three punts downed at the Cincinnati 1. Kelly called Huber the team's MVP.
``It sounds crazy being 6-0 and ranked, but he sets up long fields for teams to have to operate,'' Kelly said.
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AP Sports Writers John Kekis in Syracuse, N.Y., John Raby in Charleston, W.Va., and Associated Press Writer David Porter in Piscataway, N.J., contributed to this report.

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