It’s been an up and down season so far for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers showed promise during their opening night loss to No. 7 Washington, only to hand Eastern Michigan their first power five conference win in school history.
Then, last week we saw Rutgers explode, putting up 65 points against a weak Morgan State team. Again, showing promise that this Scarlet Knight team can be something this season. Next up they’ll open Big Ten play, away, against a struggling Nebraska team, a perfect opportunity to prove to everyone that they belong in the Big Ten.
When you take a deeper look at the matchup, you can see that this a very winnable game for the Scarlet Knights. Nebraska is currently amid a chaotic season, one that you might say is going worse than Rutgers’. Head coach Mike Riley can probably feel the flame under his office chair after losing to Northern Illinois last week. Nebraska is a state that lives and dies by Cornhusker football, a loss to Rutgers would almost certainly end Riley’s tenure with the team. In a game that Rutgers is expected to lose, all the pressure will lie on Nebraska.
Head coach Chris Ash should be licking their chops at this opportunity to roll into Lincoln to upset the Cornhuskers. It will be a big stage, one that starting quarterback Kyle Bolin should be used to from his days at Louisville. In three games, so far Bolin has thrown four interceptions, he will need to limit the mistakes and make smart decisions with the ball. I expect offensive coordinator Jerry Kill to pound the Cornhusker defense on the ground, as the tandem of Robert Martin and Gus Edwards has looked good so far this season. Nebraska currently owns the worst ranked pass defense in the Big Ten. Which means they can’t afford to stack the box against Rutgers. If they do, expect Bolin to use guys like Janarion Grant, Damon Mitchell, and Jerome Washington to shred the Cornhusker secondary.
Defensively, Rutgers matches up well with the Nebraska offense. Although the Scarlet Knight secondary has looked shaky throughout the start of the season, they still own the sixth ranked pass defense in the Big Ten. Blessaun Austin and co. must be on the lookout this week as the opportunities for takeaways will be there. Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee currently leads college football with seven interceptions. What’s even shakier about the match up is Lee will be throwing from behind a banged up offensive line, which could be missing as many as two starters come Saturday. The Rutgers defensive line must take advantage and put as much pressure on Lee as possible.
In all, Rutgers must take advantage, they may not get a better Big Ten match up this season. If they can pull of an upset, it may be enough to counter the Eastern Michigan loss, injecting hope back into the Scarlet Knight fan base. Expect this to be a close game regardless, but I’m rolling with a Scarlet Knight upset.
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