Rutgers takes on #14/#18 Washington at 2 p.m. est in Seattle on Saturday. Here are our staff predictions for the game:
Bob Cancro: I remember years ago going through the schedule with my RU buddy and saying “that’s a win, that’s a loss”. And usually being terribly disappointed at the end of the season. I’m going to be “hopeful” here based on this comment about UW from the Off Tackle Empire preseason story: Washington – A nice, breakout season under Chris Petersen. However, I don’t think they reach the heights some are predicting (ie – Top 10 finishing, winning Pac-12). But for Rutgers, it all comes down to the QB and how well Drew Mehringer has finessed the O. Washington 24 Rutgers 13
Jim Hoffman: This is always difficult because it is the fight between your heart and your head. My head knows this is a first-year head coach, new staff, new scheme, new everything, and trying it all out for the first time after a cross-country trip against a team predicted to compete for the Pac-12 title. Washington is also given a 91% chance to stomp on the Scarlet Knights on Saturday. However, I think Rutgers is extremely under-rated with a lot of experience, and I think it’s going to be a close one at the end. Washington 18 Rutgers 16
Andy Egan: I can’t wait to see how this new culture, new attitude, new discipline and toughness look on the field. Ash has asked a lot of these guys since he got here, and the team seems to have bought in. It’s probably too much to ask them to go on the road across the country in the first game of a new regime and run with a talented well-coached Huskies team for 4 quarters, but look for RU to jump out to a fast start, if for no other reason than we have one of the most electric return men in the country catching the first kickoff, and Janarion knows how to start the #AshEra off right! I’m excited to see the defense — no more soft zone coverage, giving opponents a 10-15 yd cushion against our DBs. Our boys are going to be in their faces playing physical press coverage, and I think we are going to see major differences from the defensive side of the ball compared to the past few years. Washington wins, but RU more than respectable, with a kickoff return TD for Janarion and an INT for Anthony Cioffi. U Dub 33, RU 24
Matt Pisani: The University of Washington is favored to beat Rutgers by a whopping 27 points in this game. While I do think the Huskies will end up victorious, I do not think 27 points is going to be the difference. While Rutgers has had success the past few years against PAC-12 teams, this one will prove to be slightly tougher. The Huskies averages nearly 31 points a game last season but only came home with 7 victories. This year looks to be a little different in the win column based off of their number 14 ranking. Their offense, though, will be the same if not better. Receiver Brayden Lenius is suspended the first three games for violating team rules and will miss this season opener. The big receiver measures in at 6'5" and 231 pounds and caught three touchdowns and 26 catches last season. Missing one of their offensive weapons may prove pertinent to this game especially with Rutgers' young cornerbacks. While Rutgers is young and undergoing changes, especially on defense, they get Darius Hamilton back after he lost all of last season due to injury. He will prove to be a force to be reckoned with this season. While Chris Laviano and the strong running back corps for the Scarlet Knights will do what they can, the Huskies will prove to be too much, especially playing over in Washington. Rutgers will look good and keep it close until Washington gains momentum and puts up a few touchdowns to separate the teams and pull away with the victory to start the season. Washington 35 Rutgers 20
Aaron Breitman: We finally have a game to talk about! And as much as Rutgers has changed for the better in the last 8 months, this is a doozy of a first game for Chris Ash and the program. Actually though, I think this is a perfect start to the season, even if it doesn’t end in a victory. This is a great way for Ash and the staff to truly assess where this team is at. Washington is explosive, but their offensive line is young and I really think our defensive line will do some damage in this game. I think defensive coordinator Jay Niemann will make it a frustrating day for Washington QB Jake Browning and our secondary will be much improved. It will be a difficult challenge for our offense and Chris Laviano against such a stout defense, but if we can move the chains and not turn the ball over, I think this game will be much closer than expected. I think Washington pulls it out late in the 4th quarter and this game is cited multiple times later in the season by Ash and others, as a necessary step in helping this team have a successful campaign. Washington 27 Rutgers 20
Griffin Whitmer: Hopefully I’m wrong, but I’m thinking that the #AshEra starts off with a snooze fest. I think that the Rutgers defense is good enough to keep pace with Washington’s offense while the Rutgers offense will struggle in their first real game action. Washington’s secondary is one of the best in the country and Rutgers does not have enough good wide receivers to do anything. The run game will have to carry the Rutgers offense, but the depth of Washington’s d-line will be too much. Washington 20 Rutgers 10
Scott Logan: After seeing what Chris Ash and the football program have done this offseason, and comparing where we are now to where we were at the end of last season, it really feels like we’re on the road to recovery. That said, there will no doubt be some bumps on the road, and this will likely be one of them. Washington’s defense is a big challenge for an offense that will be playing its first game in the new system, not to mention in enemy territory. It’s important to remember that this is a process, so don’t get too hung up on the first game, even if it gets ugly. Personally, I think we keep it competitive, but fall just short. Keep the faith, Rutgers fans. Washington 27, Rutgers 14
Dave White: New coach. New offense. New Defense. New Players. Old players who don't exactly fit the scheme this coach wants to run. And a nationally ranked opponent in their home field on the other side of the country. That is daunting. If this game were in late October I'd be way more optimistic. The players will have adjusted, Coach Ash will have learned from his inevitable learning on the job mistakes. We'll know a lot more about the schemes and the team. But for right now, it's really, truly hard to go with Rutgers. That said, a 27 point spread is way too high. Rutgers did hang with Michigan State last year, down to the wire (though the best player in that game is now getting in his uniform on Sundays). I'll say Washington 35 Rutgers 18. And that it’ll be pretty close into the fourth quarter.
Tell us what you predict for this game in the comments section.