Week 2 is upon us and it’s a huge opportunity for Rutgers to continue progress in Greg Schiano’s first season back on the banks. How both they and no. 17 Indiana, ranked for just the second time this past quarter century, handle this game after emotional wins a week ago will have a lot to do with the outcome. Our contributors got together to give takes and predictions on Saturday’s game.
Fred Gaudios: I have some concerns going into this week. It’s possible Michigan State was looking past Rutgers last week – it’s doubtful Indiana will make the same mistake. Michigan State had zero Rutgers film in order to prepare – Indiana will. Michigan State committed seven turnovers, and while Indiana played a pretty messy first game too, it’s unlikely to see +4 TO margin again from Rutgers. Finally, if you look at what Rutgers did on offense last week, a few beautiful throws aside, I’m concerned Indiana will stack the box against Rutgers and force deep throws (unclear how RU will react to this defensive set-up). No, I’m not convinced Indiana is a true top-20 team, but I also don’t think it takes a top-20 team to beat Rutgers at this point. If this were a home game in a packed stadium, I might be convinced to pick a closer outcome, but I like Indiana to win by two touchdowns in this one. I hope I’m wrong. Indiana 34, Rutgers 20.
David Anderson: I was so glad to be wrong last week, but no one could have expected Michigan State to put the ball on the ground so much. Rutgers still played a good game overall, though Indiana now has film to do things like force Noah Vedral to drive the ball downfield and to offset RU blitzes, script a lot of quick hitting passes. I’m super tempted to pick Rutgers, but they are still 1-21 in their last 22 Big Ten games AND Indiana did just win a close game against a more talented opponent. Rutgers probably gets the slight edge for coaching after just one game, but I just think Indiana will show better timing in the pass game than they did v PSU and probably approach 40 points because of Philyor’s home run hitting ability. This game will hopefully be a real battle and in a close contest I have to go with the better throwing quarterback. Again I hope I am wrong. Indiana 38, Rutgers 23.
Danny Burrick: Last week when I picked Rutgers to win, I was very confident that they would. I believe that this is a completely different team and mindset than last year. Indiana is coming off of a huge victory over Penn. St. and is now coming into Rutgers with a huge high. With Schiano now at the helm of the team, he will have his guys focused on Indiana and not on what happened last weekend. This week will show whether Rutgers is for real this season or not along with if they finally have a quarterback that can compete with Big Ten teams. I am very confident again with this pick this week. Noah Vedral will have a great day passing along with Isaiah Pacheco having a big day running the ball. If Rutgers wins this game is it still to early to say Rutgers is back? Rutgers 31, Indiana 21.
Adam Ross: Rutgers and Indiana produced the same amount of passing yards last week, with almost identical point production. While the defense was the surprise standout against Michigan State, they did allow over 300 yards through the air, about 100 yards more than Indiana allowed to Penn State. The good news is Indiana didn’t show much of a running game, while the Scarlet Knights showed some promise on the ground. I think this game will come down to which defense shows up and executes. Don’t expect the same turnover margin, but I believe Schiano will have his squad ready for an unexpected Week 2 ranked opponent. Rutgers 24, Indiana 23.
Aaron Breitman: I think it will be a close, hard fought game. Even though Rutgers has lost four straight against Indiana, they lost by just one score the last two times the Hoosiers came to Piscataway. Those two Rutgers teams only won three games combined, so they can be competitive on Saturday against an even better Indiana team.
A key is the Rutgers defense generating pressure on Michael Penix Jr. and forcing the Indiana offense into mistakes. Sustaining drives and getting off to a good start offensively is key as well. I do think Indiana is the better team and ultimately wins it, but I expect a tough game that shows Rutgers is continuing on the right path. Indiana 24 Rutgers 17
Greg Patuto: How wrong were we all after Week 1? We saw a defense flying around the field causing seven turnovers and an offense that was able to score touchdowns. Nothing should be taken away from the Scarlet Knights after their season-opener but it was an alarmingly bad performance from Michigan State. They clearly have issues of their own. This game against Indiana will be very telling.
The defense in this one will have to get pressure on Penix Jr. and stop the run. Indiana was only able to rush for 41 yards against Penn State. Also, will Rutgers be able to sustain drives and control the time of possession? Indiana is the better team in this game but Rutgers ould hang around in their home opener. Greg Schiano returns to the sidelines in Piscataway and that should bring energy to the team. Indiana 31 Rutgers 20
Cara Sanfilippo: Ugh, I am so torn here. Since I didn’t predict a win last week, I want to be able to predict one now. It was so hard to always predict losses the last few seasons. We beat Michigan State last week. That was fun, but I don’t know yet if that quite tells us we are a contender in the middle of the pack B1G yet. Also, Indiana beat Penn State. Is Penn State as good as predicted which means Indiana might be REALLY GOOD? So tough. If Indiana would not have won last week, and after our win against Michigan State, I would put this game in the win column. Even as bad as Rutgers has been the past few years, this matchup has always been a close one no matter which was the cards ultimately fall. I think this team is better, wants to win, and will fight hard and be prepared. I just think Indiana will too and as much as I want us to win because they call us Rutger and my dad thinks we will, I think it will be a close fight that ultimately falls in Indiana’s favor. Indiana 27, Rutgers 24
Lance Glinn: Rutgers fans, we have been here before. We have been to the dreaded “measuring stick” game before, as recent as last year in fact. A 48-point offensive performance against UMass preceded last year’s “measuring stick” game against Iowa. We all thought the Iowa game would allow us to see just how last year’s group matched up with the middle of the conference, and Rutgers proceeded to get shut-out 30-0 on the road. One year later, here we are again. A win against Michigan State in week 1, with a game against Indiana to show us exactly how close this team is to the middle of the Big Ten on Saturday.
But as we saw last week, this team is just different than last year’s. Not just the different players and staff, but the personality, confidence, and execution of this team are just different. We left the Umass game last year with all eyes on Iowa to see if we aren’t at the bottom of the conference. Fast forward to this season and in 2020 we left the Michigan State game last week, knowing we aren’t at the bottom of the conference. Now Indiana is more talented than Michigan State, so the level of competition certainly rises. But Indiana is vulnerable. While the win over Penn State last week may have people buying the Hoosiers early, one can argue that Indiana won because Penn State beat themselves.
I predicted Rutgers to win last week, and my prediction came true. Do I think they will win this week? I don’t. But I am not as confident in my prediction this week, compared to my pick last week. Give me Indiana 27 Rutgers 20.
Dave White: Okay, this is a tough one to me. The question is: How legit is each team? Rutgers looked markedly better than they have in the past four years, but how could you not? Schiano has clearly gotten them to buy in and improve, but at the same time, Michigan State looked to be about as much of a mess as you can be. Is that because of what Rutgers did or because Michigan State is just bad? At the same time, Indiana is supposed to be a team on the rise, but usually the first week a team is ranked in... well.. forever puts a lot of pressure on that team. Are they as good on the road, while being hunted, as they were hunting Penn State at home? Make no mistake, Rutgers is going to be fired up for this one. So I’m torn. Mobile quarterbacks, like Penix, have been a problem for Schiano led Scarlet Knights squads since 2001. He even struggled with spread offenses and a lot of motion when he was the defensive coordinator at Ohio State. But, the Scarlet Knights have some motivation, they clearly believe. No fans in the stands, but the familiarity of home. Oh man, I just don’t know. I can see this game going either way. What the hell, I’ll take the home team Rutgers 27 Indiana 21.
Are we too optimistic or too pessimistic? Let us know as well as your pick for the game in the comment section.