As Rutgers is set to walk into the Horseshoe and take on #2 Ohio State today, I thought an interesting development from last night was worth noting. #10 Washington absolutely annihilated #7 Stanford last night by the score of 44-7. They led 30-0 until the Cardinal finally scored with 24 seconds left in the 3rd quarter. Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey was held without a score and just 79 total yards from scrimmage, which was less production than Janarion Grant had against the Huskies. So in retrospect, Rutgers losing 48-13 in the season opener, which was the first game in a new system under head coach Chris Ash, looks a lot less worse today.
Washington outgained Stanford by over 200 total yards of offense, while Rutgers was outgained by just 76 yards. I understand the Huskies took the foot off the gas pedal in the second half against Rutgers. However, consider that Washington only rushed for 91 yards on 3.0 yards per carry against the men of Ash, while they ran for 214 yards on 5.2 yards per carry against Stanford. Washington was just 3-12 on third down conversions against Rutgers, but were 9-12 last night against Stanford.
The bottom line is Washington is scary good and Rutgers faced an impossible task in Week 1. Stanford has already beaten USC and UCLA this season and with McCaffrey in their backfield, they were considered a legitimate contender for the college football playoff. Now, Washington is the hands down favorite to win the PAC-12 title and has serious national championship aspirations.
Rutgers faces another extremely difficult opponent on the road today, as Ohio State has even more talent, top to bottom on their roster, than Washington. It will be interesting to see how our team bounces back after a hard fought, close loss to Iowa, a game they had victory in their grasps, but ultimately fell short and saw two senior starters seasons end due to injury. We can only hope for Rutgers to put up a better fight than the past two seasons against the Buckeyes and continue to make progress on the field today.
The point is continue to believe in the direction that Chris Ash is taking our program. Really good things are happening, but they take time to fully develop. Look at how Washington has gone from a perennial 7-6 team to one of college football’s elite teams in just head coach Chris Petersen’s third season at the school. Ash is starting with a lower baseline at Rutgers than Petersen did at Washington, but he has a winning pedigree and know-how to elevate the program to a level we haven’t yet experienced in 147 years of football. Regardless of the score today against Ohio State, take solace in that Rutgers is making tangible progress and be patient. The loss against Washington, which triggered many lazy and shortsighted negative comments about Rutgers from the media and fans on twitter, wasn’t so bad after all. The more progress Rutgers makes on the field this season, the more wrong they will all look. Believe that it will!
For more information on today’s game between Rutgers and #2 Ohio State kicking off at noon, click here.