Yesterday Rutgers started it's season with an impressive 50 point victory. Are you not impressed because it was against FCS school Norfolk State? Fair point, anything less than a blowout would have raised some concern. However, let's review the scores from games this weekend with future scheduled opponents for this season. The results may surprise you and make you appreciate that Rutgers taking care of business was more the exception than the rule.
Rutgers has three non-conference games on the schedule. Next weekend we host the high octane offense of Mike Leach and the Washington State Cougars. Well, they blew a 10-0 lead to Portland State at home, an FCS school that is a bottom of the barrel team in the Big Sky conference, losing 24-17. On top of that, quarterback Luke Falk was injured in the 4th quarter and left the game. There has been no additional information regarding the injury or his status for next week.
Kansas comes to the banks the last weekend of September for Homecoming. For several years the Jayhawks have been one of the worst power 5 conference teams, if not the worst. Yesterday did nothing to change that fact, as they lost at home to South Dakota State, 41-38. Kansas was actually down 31-14 at the half but made a comeback to make it close at the end. You guessed it, the Jackrabbits (had to work that in) are an FCS school and it's their first ever victory over an FBS opponent.
We don't play Army until November but their first game doesn't bode well for their prospects this season. The cadets lost to Fordham 37-35 on Friday and never really had control of the game. They missed on a two point conversion to tie it with less than three minutes to go in the game. Fordham is yet another FCS school to win this past weekend.
Ok, we knew our non-conference schedule was considered easy, as Bruce Feldman ranked it the third softest in the country this season. With all three remaining opponents losing to FCS teams, Rutgers should be smelling blood. Now it's time to look at fellow Big Ten schools that are on our schedule this season.
On Thursday, Michigan started the Jim Harbaugh era in a difficult setting playing at Utah, a team that beat them in the big house last season. Utah won 24-17, although it never felt that close, with Michigan scoring a TD in the last minute of the game. Michigan showed some life and are sure to improve under Harbaugh as the season moves along. However, they are still a long way from being a powerhouse again and Rutgers should not fear them, even with having to play them in the big house. It will be a tough but absolutely winnable game.
Nebraska lost a heartbreaker at home 33-28 on a hail mary TD by BYU. And it wasn't even from superstar quarterback Taysom Hill, as he left with a foot injury and was ruled out for the season again today. No, it was freshman Tanner Mangum who threw the winning hail mary to ruin Nebraska head coach Mike Riley's debut. There has been chatter the Huskers visiting Piscataway in mid-November gives Rutgers the best chance for a high profile win this season. Yesterday's loss does nothing to diminish that thought.
Indiana has star quarterback Nate Sudfeld back and expectations are high in Bloomington for the team to finally make a bowl game under 5th year head coach Kevin Wilson. Yesterday, they narrowly avoided the upset from Southern Illinois, an FCS opponent, winning 48-47. They won when the Salukis failed on a two point conversion with 18 seconds to play in the game. Indiana was actually down 32-21 at the half. Their defense seems terrible again. While Rutgers can't afford to take the Hoosiers lightly in Bloomington for their Homecoming in mid-October, it's a game that is for the taking.
I saved the best for last as our old conference mates, Temple, manhandled TTFP with an impressive 10 sack performance by their very good defense. TTFP took at 10-0 lead early, only to give up 27 unanswered points and completely fall apart in the 4th quarter. Christian Hackenberg was 11-25 for 103 yards and 1 interception. The offensive line that gave him no time last season and returns four starters, looked worse. It's is TTFP's only road game in the first six games, and they failed miserably in Philadelphia. Rutgers playing them in Happy Valley will be tough regardless, as it's a rivalry game, whether the other side admits it or not. I mean they did order a Stripe Out for our game. Flood should have Rutgers primed to storm the valley and avenge last season's gut wrenching loss.
We are only one week into the college football season and many things can change each week. After reviewing yesterday's results, Rutgers has many winnable games on it's schedule. And I am not being high and mighty after we torched an FCS opponent. I predicted 9-3 before the season and I feel even better about it today. Except for Indiana and Maryland, who beat FCS Richmond 50-21, every other team I thought we would beat this season, lost this weekend. Of course, there are concerns with our secondary and both of our lines will need to show they can hold up against Big Ten competition. We still don't know who will win the starting quarterback job. But there enough talent on this team to have a great season and win 9 regular season games. This team needs to continue to improve and stick together through adversity. If they do, they won't surprisingly beat teams that have bigger names, they will beat them because they are better!