PISCATAWAY - The pre-game conversation, heading into the second game between Arkansas and Rutgers in a year, has been dominated by quarterbacks.
Brandon Allen of the Razorbacks (3-0) has not practiced this week after hurting his right shoulder against Southern Miss. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema plans to announce whether Allen or AJ Derby will start just before kickoff.
The situation for Rutgers (2-1) seems to be clearer. Despite suffering a concussion on the opening series against Eastern Michigan, quarterback Gary Nova has practiced this week and was listed as probable by coach Kyle Flood Thursday.
This is one game that Nova doesn't want to miss. He had a career day last year in completing 25 passes for 397 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-26 victory at Arkansas. The yardage total was the third-best single-game performance in school history.
"If (Nova) is healthy, I'm sure he will be out there. But we really can't control that," Bielema said. "All we do is worry about the formation we line up against and the personnel we see to execute our plan."
Flood said there is no carryover from last year's game since Arkansas hired Bielema to replace John L. Smith after last season. He wasn't around for that loss.
"Some of the marquee players on each side of the ball are different," Flood said. "We have got two different football teams. We've got a different venue for the game. They have a different coaching staff."
Either way, it'll be a good preview for Rutgers fans. With an SEC team on the field, it should resemble a game day atmosphere similar to that of a Big Ten game, which the Scarlet Knights will host next year.
Here are some things to watch for today:
THE RUN GAME: It really may not make a difference who starts at quarterback for either team. Both have lived by the run early in the season. Rutgers' Paul James leads the nation with 493 yards rushing. The sophomore is averaging 164.3 yards per game and 8.1 yards per carry. He has scored six touchdowns in the last two games. Arkansas has the nation's No. 4 and No. 7 rushers in Alex Collins (418 yards) and Jonathan Williams (396). The Razorbacks are averaging 294.3 yards rushing.
ON THE ROAD, FINALLY: Arkansas is on the road for the first time this season and is playing in the northeast for the first time since meeting Fordham in 1940. And the Razorbacks have a tough defense with them. They are the only team ranked first or second in the SEC in pass defense, rush defense, total defense and scoring defense.
SPECIAL KNIGHTS: Rutgers' special teams are just that. The Scarlet Knights have blocked 32 kicks or punts since 2009, the best in the country. Rutgers is the only team with two kickoff returns for touchdowns this season with Janarion Grant going 100 yards vs. Fresno State and Quron Pratt scooting 99 yards after Eastern Michigan.
SACK MASTER: The days of Arkansas being an offensive program are over. Senior defensive end Chris Smith is tied for tops in the nation with 4½ sacks, and the team is sixth in the country in total defense, yielding 253 yards. No opponent has gained 300 yards this season. But this will be the unit's biggest test. The Scarlet Knights had 525 yards of total offense in Fayetteville last season.
GEARING UP: This is the final week of non-conference games for both schools. Arkansas will be home next weekend to take on Texas A&M. Rutgers opens its only season in the American Athletic Conference with a game at SMU.