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Not much needs to be said about Rutgers football from 2016, only that it didn’t win a Big Ten game and was shut out four different times. The Scarlet Knights are in complete rebuild mode with Chris Ash taking over as head coach after serving with Ohio State, Arkansas and Wisconsin among others, mostly on the defensive end. Former Minnesota man Jerry Kill will lead the offense, so the hope is that he revives that group, as well.

The biggest thing for the offense will be finding out the quarterback with Giovanni Rescigno and Louisville transfer Kyle Bolin providing experience, but freshman Johnathan Lewis is creating some early buzz for the team. Either way, the quarterback just needs to be mediocre for this offense to look better. The line added another year of experience, while Janarian Grant and Jawuan Harris (481 yards, 3 TDs) could prove to be a nice receiving duo if a quarterback can get them the ball. Kill will likely start with a run-first approach for this offense and that means Robert Martin (625 yards, 2 TDs) is going to have to do a bit more in that aspect. There’s only one way to go but up for this group and it could start with a freshman quarterback.

It’s the same on the defensive end after Rutgers allowed 37.5 points per game a year ago. The good news is that it was an extremely young group so at the least they’ll be more experienced this year, whether that matters remains to be seen. If some of those young guys can improve, especially on the front seven, that would help after allowing 264 rushing yards per game. That’s where top linebackers Trevor Morris, Deonte Roberts and Tyreek Maddox-Williams come in. With another year of experience, the hope is that they can lead the unit.

A bowl game isn’t expected just yet from the Scarlet Knights, but more than two wins is more than possible. At the least, the Scarlet Knights should be headed for two non-conference wins, assuming they don’t beat Washington. Two spots stand out on the schedule for possible Big Ten wins with home games against Purdue and Maryland. Other than that, the Knights will have some trouble finding a win unless they can upset a team like Michigan State in the regular-season finale. Expecting a road win in Year 1 of the rebuild is unlikely. 

Obviously, Rutgers has some big odds at +27500 to win the conference (at 5Dimes Sportsbook), which isn’t surprising. If they can figure out the quarterback position and stick with their guy, that would at least be a good look to the future and give this offense some consistency. But if the defense fails to improve and quarterback is a question all season, this could be another two or three-win campaign.


2017 Rutgers Scarlet Knights Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Washington
Sept. 9 vs. Eastern Michigan
Sept. 16 vs. Morgan
Sept. 23 at Nebraska

Sept. 30 vs. Ohio State
Oct. 14 at Illinois
Oct. 21 vs. Purdue

Oct. 28 at Michigan
Nov. 4 vs. Maryland
Nov. 11 at Penn State
Nov. 18 at Indiana
Nov. 25 vs. Michigan State

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