The Rutgers football team will face the toughest schedule in the Big Ten this coming fall, according to Athlon Sports.
The popular sports magazine published its ranking of the toughest slates in the conference on Thursday, with the Scarlet Knights taking the top spot. Rutgers tops the list for the second consecutive year.
Minnesota, who faces CFP contender TCU in the non-conference, is ranked second and Michigan State, who also battles a CFP hopeful in Oregon, is third. Iowa's schedule was ranked the easiest. ttfp was slotted as the third-easiest, thanks in large part to its non-conference schedule (at Temple, vs. Buffalo, vs. San Diego State, vs. Army).
Rutgers' 2015 slate includes matchups with East Division foes Ohio State (home), Michigan State (home), ttfp (away) and Michigan (away), in addition to drawing the top two teams in the West Division: Wisconsin (away) and Nebraska (home).
Throw in two non-conference showdowns with Power-5 teams in Washington State and Kansas, both of which are in Piscataway, and Rutgers will certainly face a tough road this fall.
From the Athlon Sports release:
"Rutgers must face five (possibly six) potential bowl teams from the East Division and gets the top two teams from the West (Nebraska, Wisconsin). It also faces two Power 5 teams in non-conference play (albeit Washington State and Kansas). It seems highly unlikely the Knights will return to the postseason."
Not a very promising outlook from Athlon, but it's not the first time. Last year, the publication also called for a subpar season for Rutgers in its Big Ten schedule rankings. From the 2014 release:
In its first year in the Big Ten, Rutgers has been handed the toughest schedule of any team in the league based on how teams fared last year (9th nationally with 97-58 opponents record). Talk about your rude welcomes. Rutgers will play two of the best teams from the West and will likely be picked to finish last in the East. A long road trip to Washington State and the short trek to Annapolis, Md., to face Navy in non-conference action means a 2-2 record could be expected before facing a Big Ten slate that has one winnable game (Indiana at home, Nov. 15). The off weekend comes between facing Michigan and Ohio State but there isn't a lot to like about what could be a horrible first season in a new league.
Following 5 Dimes Casino & Sportsbook's release of early over/unders, a lot of people are thinking a Rutgers bowl appearance is unlikely. But isn't that what everyone said last year, too?