After a come from behind, 48-21 victory over UMass on Friday night, the season gets much tougher for Rutgers in week two. They’ll play its Big Ten opener at no. Iowa, who dispatched Miami (OH) 38-14 on Saturday night. The opening line per Vegasinsider has the Hawkeyes opening as 20 point favorites.
Iowa trailed in the second quarter and led just 10-7 at halftime, but scored four second half touchdowns to win easily. Senior quarterback Nate Stanley had a strong game, completing 21 of 30 passes for 252 yards and 3 touchdowns. Junior running back Mekhi Sargent led the ground attack with 91 yards on 14 carries and 1 touchdown, while also leading the team with 65 receiving yards on 4 receptions. The Hawkeyes produced 465 total yards of offense and held Miami (OH) to just 245 total yards. The visiting Redbirds only mustered 2.4 yards per carry for just 59 yards rushing on 25 attempts.
While we won’t know any injury updates for either team until early in the week, Iowa’s starting left tackle Alaric Jackson left the game with an injury and did not return. He is considered one of the best tackles in the country and a potential first round pick in next spring’s NFL Draft, so his status will be something to keep an eye on this week.
You may remember junior receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who decommitted from Rutgers’ 2017 recruiting class. He starts for the Hawkeyes and hauled in 4 receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown, as well as a 16 yards on 1 carry in the season opener against Miami (OH).
One interesting note is that former Rutgers defensive coordinator Jay Niemann, who coached head coach Chris Ash in college before serving the past three years under him on the banks, is now the assistant defensive line coach at Iowa. He knows the Rutgers personnel well, especially on the defensive side, mentored Ash and understands his defensive philosophy. While things may have changed some with new defensive coordinator Andy Buh, including more of a shift to a 3-4 defense, there will be a lot that Niemann is familar with. These things happen in every sport with the nature of coaches changing teams often, but it certainly doesn’t help Rutgers in this game where they are already heavy road dogs.
For Rutgers to have a chance in Iowa City on Saturday, they’ll need their new look offense to be able to produce big plays like they did in the opener, as well as win the time of possession battle. The defense will need to play much better against an Iowa team that scored in all six red zone trips against Miami (OH), including five touchdowns. Of course, the Scarlet Knights MUST cut down on costly turnovers and penalties, otherwise this game could get out of hand quickly.
The Big Ten opener at Iowa is a major test for Rutgers and will give us a much better idea of where this team is at heading into week three, a bye week.
For all of our week one coverage in the win over UMass, click here.