The Scarlet Knights will travel to West Lafayette, IN Saturday to take on the 2-2 Purdue Boilermakers—a team they seem closely matched with a little over halfway through the season.
Rutgers has continued to take steps forward each game this season—even though their only win came in the first game of the year. Some fans and media personnel got too excited with the season opening win against Michigan State, but Rutgers has proved it will keep chopping and not embarrass itself on a weekly basis.
Now the Scarlet Knights need to prove they can finish games and learn how to win during their last four contests, which includes their to be determined opponent for the Champions Week game on Dec. 19.
Coming off two disappointing losses at the hands of Illinois and Michigan, where Rutgers was leading at halftime of both games, the Scarlet Knights will look to put away a Purdue team that is coming off two tough losses as well.
Rutgers led 17-0 against the Wolverines but were unable to pull off the upset as they faltered in three overtimes. A week earlier, they blew a 13-7 halftime lead over the Illini as Noah Vedral threw three second half interceptions.
If you believe heart will always lose out to talent, well Rutgers football has proven you right this season. There is no denying this team plays hard, fights to the end and has heart, but they haven’t been able to close out two games they had in grasp.
Now I do believe Rutgers has more talent than many people were giving them credit for, some of which is thanks to Greg Schiano and staff getting the best out of their players. Noah Vedral has had his share of turnovers, but he’s given the Scarlet Knights their best QB play in seasons. He has a legitimate B1G running back in Isaih Pacheco and an explosive, talented breakout wide receiver in Bo Melton to team up with.
The offensive line has given up 10 sacks, but has ultimately played better than expected, paving the way for Pacheco and goal line back Johnny Langan. First year offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson has dialed up some trick plays to inject a spark into the offense at times, but the offense has proven capable of sustained drives as well.
None of the remaining opponents are ones the Scarlet Knights can’t beat, at least not the way Penn State has played so far. Purdue has been in each of their four games but are actually scoring three less points per game than Rutgers. Penn State is off to their worst start in program history. And Maryland hasn’t shown much in their three games to say they’re head and shoulders above the Scarlet Knights.
Things got off to a hot start in Greg Schiano’s second tenure and Rutgers has shown they have what it takes to hang with most opponents as they improve each week. This team has already exceeded most expectations and the rebuild seems to be ahead of schedule thus far this season. Now it’s time to put together a complete performance and learn how to win over the next four weeks.