Rutgers is coming off a 6-7 season and 3-5 in AAC play. Now in the Big Ten’s East division, things are about to get a lot harder. The good news is the SCarlet Knights return 15 starters, nine on the offensive end. The bad news is that they aren’t all that great on either side of the ball, and that was after playing in the AAC.
The odds on Rutgers to win the National Championship are off the charts. You can check the latest odds at 5 dimes sportsbook. But save your money on that wager. Rutgers winning the Title isn’t in the cards. Ever.
Quarterback Gary Nova has been a starter every year for Rutgers, although he was eventually benched at the end of the 2013 season. He’s going to have to improve not only for this offense to be productive, but also to keep his job. Head coach Kyle Flood’s job isn’t locked down either and he’ll do what’s needed to light a fire under this offense.
Nova hasn’t completed above 57% of his passes in a season yet and has 51 TDs to 39 INTs in his three seasons. He had a few good Games last year, but that was against some of the weaker defenses in the country in SMU and Fresno State. He loses his top two wide receivers, but tight end Tyler Kroft (573 yards, Four TDs) is back. Leonte Carroo (nine TDs) and Ruhann Peele will likely take over as starting WRs.
While the passing Game is still a question, the running Game is a little more certain with all five linemen returning along with Paul James and Justin Goodwin at running back. Having a solid rushing attack is a must in the Big Ten.
Rutgers struggled mightily on the defensive end last year and that’s why their coordinator was fired immediately after the season. With a new leader, they’ll try and turn things around. The defensive line is their strongest spot with plenty of talent and depth to go around. That should help in the trenches of the Big Ten, but that doesn’t hide the fact that the secondary is inexperienced and turning to a cornerback that quit halfway through last season.
The SCarlet Knights have a ways to go on both ends of the field, and their Schedule doesn’t help all that much.
Road non-Conference Games at Washington State and Navy will be tough and they may only get two wins from their Four non-Conference Games. In addition, Rutgers draws Wisconsin and Nebraska out of the West division.
It’s going to be hard for the SCarlet Knights to win a road Game in Conference play, but the finale against Maryland could present a nice opportunity. Their home Schedule isn’t all that better either with Penn State, Michigan and Indiana as the easiest Games on the Conference slate.
If their running Game can become a consistent form of offense, they won’t have to rely on Gary Nova as much passing the ball. Even if that works out, what’s the defense going to do against these offenses? The only one Rutgers could keep below 20 points is Maryland. This team has a long way to go and a bowl Game in their first Big Ten season isn’t likely. Don’t be surprised by a Four-win season.
2014 Rutgers Football Schedule
Aug. 28 at Washington State
Sep. 6 vs. Howard
Sep. 13 vs. Penn State
Sep. 20 at Navy
Sep. 27 vs. Tulane
Oct. 4 vs. Michigan
Oct. 18 at Ohio State
Oct. 25 at Nebraska
Nov. 1 vs. Wisconsin
Nov. 15 vs. Indiana
Nov. 22 at Michigan State
Nov. 29 at Maryland