On Saturday, Rutgers hosts its first Big Ten game of the year, and it's a doozy. The fourth-ranked Michigan State Spartans are coming to town for Rutgers' annual blackout game. The showdown will get the primetime treatment, taking place under the lights, airing on BTN. The energy for Rutgers' blackout games is always something to behold, and the Scarlet Knights faithful will hope for a huge upset over a national championship contender. Here's everything you need to know ahead of Saturday's matchup.
Rutgers released its injury report yesterday, and I wrote about it in full right here.
Unfortunately, the Scarlet Knights aren't coming out of their bye fully healthy. WR John Tsimis (lower body) has already been ruled out. Tsimis made a key play in last year's blackout game against Michigan, when QB Gary Nova threaded the needle to hit Tsimis for a seven-yard touchdown right before halftime.
Rutgers' razor-thin secondary may be even thinner on Saturday, as CB Jarius Adams and SS Davon Jacobs are both questionable with upper body injuries.
Here are the most notable names from yesterday's injury report:
* WR John Tsimis (lower body)
* RB Desmon Peoples (upper body)
* DT Darius Hamilton (lower body, out for season)
* CB Jarius Adams (upper body)
* SS Davon Jacobs (upper body)
* DE Kemoko Turay (upper body)
* G Chris Muller (lower body)
* DE Djwany Mera (lower body)
Flood Wilson Speaks
Interim head coach Norries Wilson spoke with the media yesterday to discuss this weekend's game. Here are the highlights of his press conference:
* Wilson begins by saying he believes the team had a productive bye week, adding that they worked on some fundamentals.
* When asked if the team adjusts to its opponents on a week-to-week basis, Wilson replies, "We don't try to reinvent the wheel each week and try to come up with a new offense." He says they'll work in different personnel or formations that are best suited for a particular opponent.
* Wilson is asked about recruiting over the weekend, and says "the reception was very good." He says the high school coaches were happy to see them, and they discussed some of the kids in their programs and kids they might have coming up.
* A reporter asks how they plan to combat Michigan State DE Shilique Calhoun. Wilson praises Calhoun, calling him "a real good player." He notes the offensive line will need to account for him, scheming up some plays to get him off his balance.
* Wilson notes that the team did take a look at last year's game against Michigan State. He points out then-MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has since taken the job as Pitt's head coach, but the Spartans still run a lot of his plays. He says no matter who they are playing, the team needs to focus on what they do and how they execute.
* Wilson is asked about Michigan State's secondary, and he notes they are a tough group that tackles well, tries hard to create turnovers, and is not afraid to play one-on-one. He thinks the receivers will face a tough challenge, but believes they are up for it.
* When asked about the impact of special teams and how Rutgers is yet to block a punt this season, Wilson points out while they have not blocked a punt, opposing punters average little more than 30 yards against Rutgers, and Wilson believes the threat the Scarlet Knights' special teams poses has impacted punts despite the lack of blocks.
* Saturday will be the seventh time the Scarlet Knights and Spartans have faced each other. Of course, Rutgers was blown out in East Lansing last year 45-3, but the all-time series is tied 3-3.
* The last time Rutgers faced Michigan State at home, the Scarlet Knights celebrated a 19-14 victory in September 2004. Brian Leonard rushed for 150 yards on 25 carries that day.
* This will be the first time Rutgers has hosted a Top 25 team since No. 23 Louisville visited the Scarlet Knights in 2012.
* An upset win on Saturday would be Rutgers' third ever win over a Top 5 team after the Scarlet Knights beat No. 3 Louisville in 2006 and No. 2 USF in 2007.
* The Scarlet Knights are undefeated in blackout games during the Kyle Flood era. They defeated UConn 19-3 in 2012, Arkansas 28-24 in 2013, and Michigan 26-24 last season.
* Rutgers will be debuting some cool new helmets on Saturday, as seen in this awesome graphic from yesterday.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackoutTheBirthplace?src=hash">#BlackoutTheBirthplace</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CHOP?src=hash">#CHOP</a> <a href="http://t.co/PG5yBfeqmF">pic.twitter.com/PG5yBfeqmF</a></p>— Rutgers Football (@RFootball) <a href="https://twitter.com/RFootball/status/651082024325935104">October 5, 2015</a></blockquote>
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What do you think? Does Rutgers have a chance on Saturday? Or will Michigan State be too big of a challenge to overcome? Sound off in the comments below! And don't forget to wear BLACK on Saturday!