Rutgers football hosts Eastern Michigan on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., as the program looks to end a ten game losing streak, dating back to last season. At the timing of this post, Rutgers are listed as 5 point favorites in the game. Our staff got together to give their thoughts on how the action will play out tomorrow.
Bob Cancro: Okay, let's get this show on the road. Last week I won the prediction pool (still waiting to be paid, by the way) being only one point off with a 31-14 pick. Thank you. People said, "Ooh, Vegas has no respect for Rutgers" with the 3 1⁄2 point opening line. Calm. Down. First off, the Eagles won their first game, we lost. Last season they were 7-5 and went to a bowl game; we were 2-10 and watched bowl games on TV. Yeah, I know, they lost to Old Dominion in the Bahamas Bowl (20-24). To which we say they beat Charlotte last week by a 24-7 count. Fine, fine, fine. Look, you earn your odds. And we earned ours. That being said, Rutgers will win. Everyone jumped on Kill - me, too - for being too conservative later in the game. But I think that was kinda appropriate for that game. I believe we'll see more deeper throws to wideouts this week along with a heavy diet of Augustus Edwards. And a heavy diet of blitzes; the defense - if it really is what we saw against the Huskies - will make life tough for the Eagles. It's been said a team's greatest growth is between the first and second games; RU will grow a lot. Rutgers 33 Eastern Michigan 17
TJ Jurkiewicz: After giving it their all against Washington last week and coming up short, the Scarlet Knights will look to get their first win of the 2017 season on Saturday when Eastern Michigan comes to town. Eastern Michigan got a decisive win last week at home against a lowly Charlotte team but they didn’t look particularly impressive, rushing for a paltry 126 yards against a 49ers defense that is known for giving up huge yardage. This week I expect the Rutgers offensive and defensive lines, which held their own against Washington’s line’s, to control this game and allow Gus Edwards and Robert Martin to eat up chunks of yardage all afternoon. Charlotte was able to average 3.9 yards per carry last week against EMU so I expect Rutgers to take full advantage of their weakness there. Utilizing the ground game will open up the play action for some throws downfield to Damon Mitchell and Janarion Grant and I think Rutgers get an easy win and cover at home for the first win of the season. Rutgers 31 Eastern Michigan 20
Bill Tharp: Rutgers looked like a real football team last week for the first time in a long time, but will they be able to avoid laying an egg this week against a solid Eastern Michigan team? I know Jerry Kill said the offense was more conservative because he was not sure how the offensive line would hold up, but I’m just not sure the Scarlet Knights will be an explosive offense and that’s okay. I think the two headed monster of Gus Edwards and Robert Martin will beat up Eastern Michigan and the Scarlet Knights will escape with a close yet satisfying victory. Rutgers 24 Eastern Michigan 20
David Anderson: So many positive things to say about Rutgers defensive line in game 1, I’m not sure the defensive backs were truly tested. Linebackers did not impress in coverage. So expect a period of adjustment for some more aggressive offense out of the Eagles especially in the hurry up as Rutgers showed no ability to stop high tempo. There’s a chance Rutgers defensive line could completely dominate, but prior to the Washington game no one would have expected it. Offensively, can Rutgers either A. run against a stacked box or B. complete some passes over it? Kyle Bolin’s physical trait that sets him apart is supposedly his ability to complete passes at the second level of the defense. Hopefully that’s true, but we really don’t know yet. With all my skepticism, I think Rutgers has enough athletes that at home, against an opponent that should not exploit special teams as much, they do escape with the first victory in 11 tries. Rutgers 23, Eastern Michigan 21.
Mike Voza: I was pleasantly with last weeks opening game versus a very good Washington Husky team who I believe will win the PAC 12 and once again be selected to the four team playoff. Over the summer I was not overly optimistic about the Scarlet Knights opening game and I was a little afraid that Rutgers would not very competitive in the opener. I also was concerned that there would be an emotional let down in game #2 against a very underrated Eastern Michigan team that went 7 - 5 in last season's regular season and played in the Bahamas Bowl.
Rutgers now has me very optimistic for Saturday's game. Starting QB Kyle Bolin will have a game under his belt which should prove to be very valuable. If the effort and intensity is there playing against the Eagles from EMU "On the Bank's" ... from opening kick off til the final whistle ... the Scarlet Knights will do just fine. I think Eastern Michigan will be a tough and worthy opponent. I hope no one takes the Eagles too lightly this weekend, but I see Rutgers coming out on top this weekend. Rutgers 31 Eastern Michigan 27
Aaron Breitman: After a better than expected performance against Washington, can Rutgers build off that game with a victory against a dangerous MAC team in Eastern Michigan? While I expect offensive coordinator Jerry Kill to be a little more adventuresome in the passing game this week, I think Rutgers will still look to pound the ball on the ground with Gus Edwards and Robert Martin. If the offensive line can play as well as they did against Washington, Rutgers will be able to control the game and minimize the opportunities for EMU’s experienced signal caller, Brogan Roback. This is a game the defense will need to produce takeaways as well. As I wrote earlier this week, style points are great, but Rutgers just needs to win no matter what and end the ten game losing streak. I think they will build off of the season opener and get an all important victory to keep the optimism for this seaspn alive. Rutgers 31 Eastern Michigan 21
Dave White: I think Rutgers wins this game. However, worry strikes me that this game might be closer than Rutgers fans would want it to be. After last week, when the Scarlet Knights had Washington scuffling a little bit, the team didn't vary away from the game plan to try and take advantage and a 2nd half lead (possibly). This week, I expect more of the same... ball control, ball control, ball control, and conservative punts. That should be enough for Rutgers to win a squeaker, but I'd rather the Scarlet Knights open it up a little bit and try to give some of those young wide receivers a chance to shine. Who knows? Maybe they do. Rutgers 23 EMU 17
David Brown: Eastern Michigan recently entered a bowl game. It's their first one since 1987 which means EMU shouldn't be taken lightly. Over this past weekend, teams like Baylor and UNLV lost to FCS teams so losing to EMU can be a reality. However, I don't see it happening this weekend.
Rutgers showed the college football world that they can hang with a ranked team. #8 Washington struggled in the first half only scoring off a botched special teams play by Rutgers. Besides that punt return, Washington didn't score a touchdown on offense in the first half. Rutgers showed in the first drive that they have the capability to move the ball down the field. Despite the lost, Rutgers gained more experience with their freshmen and now have a barometer on where to improve. Also, they gained confidence with their strengths especially on the defensive side of the football.
I think Rutgers will dominate EMU on Saturday. Janarion Grant will not be silenced like on September 1st. I think this will be his breakout game since the Iowa game. He's too talented to not showcase his magic. Also, I expect Gus Edwards to put up at least 90-120 yards. Rutgers 28 Eastern Michigan 13
Jim Hoffman: Last week’s game demonstrated the growth of the Rutgers football program to anyone who was watching. Even the commentators were saying they think Rutgers may have a bowl game in their future in 2017. Despite that, after the game the odds were posted at Rutgers (at home!) giving 3.5 points against Eastern Michigan. Cue the wailing, the rending of clothing and gnashing of teeth among the Scarlet Knight faithful. Since that time, it may have moved a little. In my local paper Wednesday morning, the “America’s Line” column picks Rutgers by 5. I know, not much different.
This week’s game will definitely be a Rutgers win, if they play with the same intensity as they did last week. In fact, two bad plays contributed to 14 of Washington’s 30 points. If Pettis’ punt return had been stopped, and the broken play where an uncovered receiver caught a wide-open pass hadn’t been uncovered, it may have been a different game, and that was against the #8 team in the country.
Strong as EMU is, it isn’t anywhere near a nationally ranked FBS team. It is a strong team in the Mid-American Conference, which is a huge difference. I think Rutgers is being severely underestimated in this game. Rutgers 27 Eastern Michigan 15
Cara Sanfilippo: Despite the loss last week, I am so pumped for this game and what the Scarlet Knights can do against a lesser-ranked opponent. If the defensive line can put some pressure on QB Brogan Roback, and we can ensure the coverage mistakes are resolved, I see the defense playing an exciting game on Saturday.
Offensively, we played it safe last week, but as Kill has said it is based on the opponent. I believe we will be playing to dominate and to win, whereas last week we were playing not to lose (badly) especially after two turnovers. Bolin will have to work out the kinks as these interceptions are deadly and this will be no cakewalk. I would like for us to open up the field a but, and more of Edwards, Martin and hopefully even Blackshear and Hicks. If we can play well on all sides, improving significantly on special teams, I see this game as marking the first W for Rutgers in 11 games. By how much remains to be seen. I would love for us to blow it out, but 11 games is a long time, and we still haven’t proven we can kick a field goal. Rutgers 28 EMU 24
Patrick Mella: I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t catch a lot of Eastern Michigan games so my knowledge of them is very limited but the overall consensus seems to be that they’re a solid team that could give Rutgers trouble. I hear a lot of you wanting Kill to open up the offense, and fundamentally I agree with you. But one of the best ways to setup up for a big pass play is to get the defense to respect the run. The DB’s and LB’s start creeping up towards the line of scrimmage and all of a sudden you now have one-on- one matchups you can begin to exploit.
But I fully expect the offense to continue having a “run first” mentality. The offensive line played surprisingly well and Gus Edwards looking very comfortable in the backfield. I also expect Rutgers to continue to utilize Jerome Washington in the passing game.
I realize this is a game that should not be taken lightly but I’d like to see Rutgers come out and really dominate a game for once. Rutgers is a vastly improved team that hung with one of the best teams in the country last week. I think they surprise us and handle Eastern Michigan in convincing fashion. Rutgers 28 Eastern Michigan 10
RutgersNation: Last week's first half was arguably the best half of football the Scarlet Knights have played since 2015. The defensive line kept Jake browning off-balance, and the offense showed they are vastly improved from last year. Despite only being a 5-point favorite against Eastern Michigan, I think the Scarlet Knights will easily win this game. Yes EMU has a very good quarterback, yes they went to a bowl game for the first time in 29 years, but the Scarlet Knights will look to show that last week's improvement was not a fluke and that they have vastly improved on both sides of the ball. Rutgers ends their losing streak and dominates this game. Rutgers 27 Eastern Michigan 7
How do you think this game will turn out? Sound off in the comments and go RU!