Tomorrow, Rutgers kicks off the 2016 season in Seattle against the #14 Washington Huskies. The Scarlet Knights are led by first-year head coach Chris Ash while Huskies coach Chris Peterson is entering his 3rd year at the helm. Yesterday, Rutgers boarded a plane to Washington and now are settled in and ready to go.
Rutgers @ #14 Washington
Location: Husky Stadium | Seattle, Washington
Time: 2pm ET
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: WOR 710-AM, WCTC 1450-AM, WENJ 97.3-FM, WNJE 920-AM
Line: Washington -27
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The Tale of the Tape
Rutgers will enter this game as 27 point underdogs, a figure that a lot of people think is way too high. Regardless of the spread, however, almost everyone is picking Washington to win this game. The combination of Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin on offense and their deep and talented defense make them the clear-cut better team. With that being said, Washington has almost no tape on Rutgers and this can be a trap game for them. They have no idea what they are going to face and it is very possible Chris Ash and co. come in and steal one from the Huskies.
How Rutgers wins
Rutgers wins this game by playing to their strengths and controlling the game. The one matchup that Rutgers has the edge is their defensive line against Washington’s offensive line. The Rutgers d-line is the best unit on the team and luckily can shut down Washington’s offense almost on their own. If they can dominate the line of scrimmage, Myles Gaskin will have nowhere to go. If they can keep pressure of Max Browning, he will not have anyone to bail him out. Washington loses its two top receivers last year and starting WR Brayden Lenius is suspended. This is another benefit for Rutgers, as their secondary won’t be dealing with any elite receivers. Washington does not have anyone on offense that can expose Rutgers so if the defense can limit the Washington offense and Chris Laviano can do just enough, Rutgers can pull this one out.
How Washington wins
Washington has to play their game and not force anything in this game. They are the better team and just need to play clean football and be consistent on offense. Their defense has the ability to shut out Rutgers and their offense has the ability to make some noise as well. If they can establish a good running rhythm and then take the top off the Rutgers defense once in a while, they should be fine. It is all about Washington winning the game and not making stupid mistakes to give the game away to Rutgers.
What Rutgers has going for them
Rutgers comes into this game with many advantages that can help them win.
- Washington WR Brayden Lenius is suspended for the game and is their 2nd returning receiver from 2015. John Ross has not played since 2014 and will have a lot more pressure to do more for their offense. Because of this, the Rutgers DBs will not be overmatched like they have been in the past.
- The Rutgers defensive line can dominate. Washington’s offensive line returns four starters but were very shaky in pass coverage last year. They have potential but it may not show in the first game. It all starts at the line of scrimmage and Rutgers can win that battle on defense.
- The element of the unknown. No one, not even us Rutgers fans, know what this team will be like. Can Chris Ash actually produce a bowl team in year one or is the team not talented enough? For all we know this is an 8-win team that has been waiting on the right coach to make use of the talent. Additionally, this could be a humbling 4-win season and I wouldn’t be surprised. The bottom line is that Washington has no idea what they are going up against tomorrow and that is good for Rutgers.
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