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ESPN’s first 2017 College Football Top 25 includes four Rutgers opponents: again

Ohio State and Penn State in Top 5, UW and UM also in top 14

Rutgers v Ohio State
Maddox-Williams won’t see Samuel in 2017, but OSU is still loaded
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Remember when the headliner of the Rutgers Football schedule was a trip to Miami (FL) or Virginia Tech? Before that in the 1980s a match up with a school like Florida got your blood pumping due to it’s scarcity. Perhaps you were like me and found this to not be exciting enough over the last decade, so you would turn on your video game console and edit your NCAA Football Video Game Rutgers opponents on PlayStation or XBOX to add some national powerhouses. Those days are over, not just because NCAA Football video games are currently not in production but because this group of Scarlet Knights faces a much more formidable set of opponents than their predecessors.

ESPN released its “Way-Too-Early” 2017 College Football top 25, and four of the top fourteen appear on the Scarlet Knights slate in 2017, all teams Rutgers faced a season ago. Headlined by #1 Ohio State, Penn State checks in at number 5, followed by Washington at #9, and Michigan all the way down in 14th. Lucky for RU, the cross-division matchup with #11 Wisconsin won’t happen again until ... 2018.


  1. Fri, Sept 1 vs Washington
  2. Sat, Sept 9 vs E Michigan
  3. Sat, Sept 16 vs Morgan State
  4. Sat, Sept 23 @ Nebraska
  5. Sat, Sept 30 vs Ohio State
  6. Sat, Oct 14 @ Illinois
  7. Sat, Oct 21 vs Purdue
  8. Sat, Oct 28 @ Michigan
  9. Sat, Nov 4 vs Maryland* (at Yankee Stadium)
  10. Sat, Nov 11 @ Penn State
  11. Sat, Nov 18 @ Indiana
  12. Sat, Nov 25 vs Michigan State

On the surface, most fans will chalk up four more losses in 2017 anyway, as many did in 2016 when the combined score against these same four opponents was a disheartening 223-13. These four games mean nothing to me, whether you win or lose 42-0 or 70-0 makes little difference. Others on the periphery make a valid point that avoiding embarrassment as a laughingstock may not be critical to those close to the program, but is critical to recruiting via media like ESPN and BTN.

More important is how Rutgers does in games they should be competitive and the Onthebanks staff will publish our way to early game by game predictions soon. During the process, one question we are asking ourselves and today I pose to you is, how many games does Rutgers need to win in 2017 to keep moving onward and upward? Though I often make gentlemen’s bets on the total wins with my fellow Rutgers fan father (RC ‘81), normally we just want to see improvement. That can only last so long before ultimately you need to win games and I’m curious where our readers feel the Rutgers team and coaching staff are currently.


How many games does RU need to win this season to keep moving forward?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    0-1: Doesn’t matter, Ash’s message resonates regardless
    (18 votes)
  • 1%
    2: One more year with two is ok
    (7 votes)
  • 17%
    3: Any progress in the win column is progress
    (87 votes)
  • 43%
    4: Doubling will surely show the needle moving
    (216 votes)
  • 33%
    5 or more: The time for excuses is over, we need a lot more Ws
    (163 votes)
491 votes total Vote Now

Thanks for voting! Four got my vote, but depending on the overall feel and circumstances of the season, I MIGHT be able to live with three. Beating Eastern Michigan plus the last FCS opponent for a while, Morgan State, and at least one of Illinois or Purdue simply HAS to happen in 2017. Winning all four of those, or three plus a sneaky win elsewhere would make me feel good about the direction. (assuming we don’t have ANOTHER OC in 2018) Even if every opponent loses their starting quarterback in the middle of the game and RU steals a few Ws, I think any fan would consider 5 wins a HUGE improvement.

Other notables on the ESPN list

  • Florida State, Alabama, and USC join the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions in the top 5.
  • Defending National Champion Clemson checks in at lucky number seven.
  • Transfers Gus Edwards and Jerome Washington’s former home and old Big East rival Miami (FL), who the Knights recently replaced on their 2019 schedule, is listed at #15.
  • Additional RU transfers came from #17 Louisville (Kyle Bolin) and #13 Georgia (Juwuan Briscoe)
  • Other former conference foes making appearances: USF (#19), WVU (#20), and VT (#22)
  • Former offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer and his Texas Longhorns appear at #23.
  • A promising sign: Jerry Kill’s last stop and 2030 & 2031 opponent, Kansas State, is #18.

Not to take anything away from their accomplishments, but the biggest “name” opponents the 1976 undefeated squad’s docket were Navy, Louisville, and Tulane all of which finished below .500 during the bicentennial campaign. A lot has changed since Rocky was named Best Picture. Here’s to continued positive change for Rutgers in 2017!

Clemson v Louisville
New RU QB Kyle Bolin is no stranger to top competition, pictured here against future National Champion Clemson.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images