The Rutgers football team ventures out on the road on Saturday for the Big Ten opener on Saturday. For all of our pregame and postgame coverage for Rutgers at no. 20/19 Iowa, visit our game headquarters here.
As for the game itself, our contributors got together to give their thoughts on this important matchup for the Scarlet Knights. The fact is no one outside of the Rutgers fan base thinks this team has a chance to pull the upset in Iowa City. After last season’s 1-11 record, it’s completely fair to not have confidence in this team until they give us a reason to believe. We are all hoping that reason manifests itself this weekend in the form of a program perception changing victory over the Hawkeyes. But these predictions aren’t based on hope, so here is our realistic takes on what we think will unfold in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
David Anderson: I like Iowa and they are a borderline top 25 team for a number of reasons. Nate Stanley is just too experienced with a fundamentally sound team around him to believe the Hawkeyes will not secure a victory at home this weekend. I do think Rutgers covers the spread because the Knights flashed an ability to complete passes that should allow them to move the chains in the second half. We have not seen a Rutgers team that could mount a comeback of any sort since 2016 and they haven’t had a major comeback win since 2015. I’m not ruling out the possibility of the Scarlet Knights snapping the longest top 25 upset drought in the Power Five, but am not predicting it. Iowa 30, Rutgers 20
Adam Ross: The UMass game let the fanbase breathe a sigh of relief (not until the 2nd quarter though) after an offseason of uncertainty. The offense put up points, and after a very shaky start, the defense clamped down on an inferior opponent. But Iowa is not UMass, as Rutgers will face their first ranked opponent in a road matchup this weekend. Iowa has experience and balance, something Rutgers is still working on. I wouldn’t expect another 4 TD game from Pacheco, but I do think we are looking at a heavy dose of Pacheco and Blackshear to keep the Iowa defense off balance and open up the passing game. Iowa’s starting left tackle, Alaric Jackson, is out this week which will make this a closer game than the point spread suggests. However, Rutgers will notch their first loss of the season. Iowa 27, Rutgers 17.
Cara Sanfilippo: There are some key injuries for Iowa coming out of week 1 that should help Rutgers potentially keep this game closer than expected. However, despite the fact that the defense pulled it together in the last 3 quarters of the UMass game, their offensive coordinator definitely beat our defensive coordinator in the first quarter. Expect Iowa to capitalize on a hurry up offense to attempt to catch our defense off guard once again. I expect Rutgers to be able to string together some exciting offensive series, but defensive end A.J. Espenesa is likely to put a wrench in the passing game, and IOWA was ranked 12th nationally in run defense. This will prove impossible for Rutgers to overcome after taking an initial loss is points. Ultimately, they have not proven they can not string together a comeback against a strong team. Iowa 31, Rutgers 20
Danny Burrick: With Rutgers coming off a somewhat strong win over UMass, the team will be going into Iowa with confidence. While the spread of the game might not show that Rutgers has a good chance to win, they will look to play it very close. I think the Rutgers defense will come out shaky just as they did for the first quarter against UMass but then slowly pick things up. Iowa’s senior quarterback Nate Stanley will be leading the charge for the Hawkeyes looking to put up big numbers as he had done last week. On the offensive end, I don’t expect McLane Carter to be given as much freedom throwing the ball as he was given against UMass. I am expecting another big game out of Isaih Pacheco along with Raheem Blackshear. Iowa: 24 Rutgers: 10
Dave White: Iowa is the home team and in the top 25. There’s no Jordan Bohannon or Joe Wieskamp to worry about but this is a quality football team and a major step up from the Minutemen last week. Rutgers has to be feeling good about the way they rebounded from being down 14 points in that game, but let’s face it--Iowa’s lines are better than the UMassive line Rutgers faced last week. I don’t expect McClane Carter to have much time to throw. I don’t expect Rutgers to pressure Iowa’s defense. I don’t expect much. Maybe Carter throws a deep TD and Isaiah Pacheco breaks off a big run, but beyond that? Reality sinks in. Iowa 42 Rutgers 14
Aaron Breitman: I respect the hell out of Iowa and would sacrifice a limb if Rutgers could replicate their success and stability as a program. However, I do think the Hawkeyes are certainly beatable and Carter has the potential to connect on the deep ball against Iowa’s safeties. I continue to worry about the mental side of the game for Rutgers if they fall behind early. Last year, that usually meant things snowballed into disaster quickly. They showed great character in coming back last week, but the talent and depth of Iowa is leagues apart from UMASS. I’m not in the camp of the Rutgers fanbase that is hoping for a moral victory by keeping it close. At some point, Ash needs to prove he is a good coach and this game is a great opportunity to show both his and the program’s growth by sneaking up on Iowa, who could potentially be looking even slightly ahead to the following week against rival Iowa State. One area that concerns me is that Iowa will know the personnel of Rutgers extremely well with former DC Jay Niemann now on the Iowa sideline. I think it’s a close first half but Iowa pulls away after the break. Iowa 35 Rutgers 16
Nick Kosko: I mostly liked what I saw last Friday vs. UMass. McClane Carter looks like he COULD have the goods to lead this team to a handful of wins by himself. However, we have to remember, despite the great performances form Isaih Pacheco, Bo Melton, and Raheem Blackshear, it was only UMass. Could any of these guys explode vs. Iowa? Sure. Will they? I’m not so certain. I do think we will see a competitive game at first, only for the Hawkeyes to pull away late. This game is going to serve as a measuring stick for the game against Boston College. Don’t forget to catch me on 97.3 ESPN at 11 AM for my college football show, leading you into Rutgers vs. Iowa. Iowa 31 Rutgers 17
Fred Gaudios: On the “good news for Rutgers” side, we look better on offense than we have in years, Iowa plays a methodical style of football so they might not go up-tempo on us, and Iowa’s starting left tackle won’t be playing on Saturday. On the “bad news for Rutgers” side, Iowa is a bad match up for us on paper. They’re well-coached, well-organized, and have a balanced offensive attack I’m hoping and praying we can handle after UMASS dropped 21 first quarter points on us last week. Iowa should, in theory, be able to slowly first down-us to death on Saturday. Rutgers won’t win, but I do predict we beat the spread. Iowa 35, Rutgers 17
David Kostus: Like Dave White, and maybe some others on here, I’m primarily a Rutgers Basketball fan. It was not always this way... I used to be enough of a Rutgers Football fan that I sat through a drubbing by West Virginia in the pouring rain with a stream of water running off my nose (maybe passed out, but that’s another story), I rushed the field after a bowl qualifying win against Cincinnati, and I sat at work writing out two-deeps for the O-Line going forward through the next several seasons. All the losing beat that out of me, along with the ethical morass of the Flood era (you could still root for a bad football team if we at least had the academic and moral high ground). Anyway, a combination of AB inviting me to participate with OTB and the small signs of life that the team showed against UMass has dragged me back in. Along with all of the above, I’m also a complete homer... so now I have it in my head that an upset is brewing this weekend. I listened to the guys over at Black Heart Gold Pants complain about AJ Epenesa not being able to do anything against Miami (OH), noting that he got double teamed and chipped, but that he’s supposed to be an All-American and thought... why can’t we do that to him too? I also heard them call Bo Melton one of the most dynamic receivers in the league and thought... that’s nuts(!)... but maybe he just needed a real QB these past two years? All that is to say, I’m not just predicting that we cover, I’m predicting that the defense gets its act together and we pull off the upset in a slog. Rutgers 23 Iowa 20
Are we too negative or just being realistic? Is David Kostus a crazy person or just bringing some much needed optimism as a newcomer to our site? How do you think Saturday’s Big Ten opener will play out? Let us know in the comment section.