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OTB Staff Predictions: Northwestern At Rutgers

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Do our contributors foresee a homecoming victory?

NCAA Football: Indiana at Rutgers Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Week eight is here and this weekend brings the annual homecoming game for Rutgers football. After a disastrous 1-6 start to the season, the bye week up next and a brutal November in which Rutgers plays four ranked opponents, this is their likely last chance for a victory. Do our contributors have any optimism heading into Saturday’s game as three touchdown underdogs to Northwestern? Let’s find out.

Jim Hoffman: Oh yeah, Rutgers is going to come flying out of the gate tomorrow, and they are gonna put a real hurtin’ on their opponent. Wait, they aren’t playing against Our Lady of the Good Surfboard College? Oh, then...

nevermind!

The reality is, there aren’t a dozen people who are not involved in the program in the entire state of New Jersey that expects Rutgers to win against Northwestern. Currently ranked in the bottom 10 of all FBS programs, they have an innate ability to pull failure from the jaws of victory. I’ll still be there, but it won’t be fun. After all, I’ve already seen this show several times this season, and reruns aren’t a lot of fun... Northwestern 38 Rutgers 10

Lance Glinn: Before the season started, this game was supposed to begin the “unwinnable” part of the schedule for the Scarlet Knights. Little did we know then, that the “unwinnable” part of the schedule would begin for Rutgers in week 2.

Its tough to face the facts of this season but we must. This is a bad football team. Now maybe, just maybe, fans got a little hope for this game after Northwestern’s star running back Jeremy Larkin unfortunately had to retire from football with an injury (we wish him the best going forward). But since that happened, the Wildcats lost to Michigan by 3, beat Michigan State by 10, and slipped past Nebraska in overtime. This game has blowout written all over it. Everyone knows Pat Fitzgerald and his group are going to want to make a statement that their poor performance last week against the Huskers was a fluke, and I think they will come to Piscataway and do exactly that....Northwestern 42 Rutgers 13

David Anderson: The same as last week, except Northwestern in the pass game, not run game in all likelihood. On defense, how about some people flying to the ball? On defense. it seems Rutgers is always in man to man with the receiver having a step and it being a matter of whether the QB can make an accurate throw.

On offense, it seems Sitkowski is constantly throwing the ball and a zillion defenders are in the area. That must be because RU can’t complete a deep pass to back up the linebackers and safeties. There is still a chance that Rutgers flashes a passing attack down the stretch in 2018, regardless of what we saw last week. I want someone to show me on offense that they practiced and can win a one on one matchup significantly. On the plus side, the offense can’t be any worse than a week ago. NO, NO, I SHOULD NEVER HAVE ASKED THAT!!!!!! Same as last week: Northwestern 41, Rutgers 17

Patrick Mella: Long gone are the days of me picking Rutgers upsets on these prediction posts. That was old, somewhat optimistic Pat and unfortunately he doesn’t work here anymore. Instead, I give you weathered, broken down, Pat. Week after painful week of watching this team has steadily worn me down like a wooden stick whittled to a mere nub. Maybe one of my fellow contributors will have the guts to pick Rutgers this week. It is homecoming, which in theory should mean something and I suppose it is the last “winnable” game left on the schedule. Of course if by “winnable” you mean not lose by 85 points. But this Northwestern team is actually one of the better teams on Rutgers’ schedule. Let that statement sink in. Don’t let the upset to Akron or the 3-3 record fool you. This is a good team and certainly a better one than the Buffalo and Illinois teams that embarrassed Rutgers at home earlier this season. Following their overtime win versus Nebraska a week ago, Northwestern is now 10-1 in Big Ten play going back to last season. I don’t think they will look to embarrass Rutgers so you could see some garbage time points in the second half but it won’t do much to change the outcome of the game. Northwestern 38, Rutgers 17

Aaron Breitman: I can’t really pinpoint why, but I am genuinely optimistic that Rutgers will play its best game of the season on Saturday. I guess partly because despite this being an awful football team, things have to balance out somewhat after being so terrible last week. Right? They can’t forget to play football two weeks in a row like they did against Maryland when they passed for 8 total yards, chose not to catch a kickoff, and didn’t tackle anyone. Right? Also, Northwestern isn’t a team that really blows anyone out and can play down to its competition, hence the loss to Akron. They also have a poor run game at the moment. Maybe I’m sentimental because its homecoming or I’ve truly lost my mind, but I think Rutgers gives a spirited effort and its best performance on Saturday. Enough to win? I don’t think so, but I do foresee Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson needing to lead a late touchdown drive to put the Scarlet Knights away. I also foresee Chris Ash beating this result to death the rest of the season as a sign of progress, when it would really just be an outlier performance. Northwestern 24 Rutgers 20

Do you think as a group we are too negative or not enough? Let us know in the comment section and make your prediction for Saturday’s game there as well.