Our contributors give the most lopsided victory for Rutgers against a Big Ten opponent since joining the league in 2014.
Art Stein: This was a great win for the Scarlet Knights. From the first play, it was apparent that Rutgers came to play and Indiana was going through the motions. Injuries and six turnovers helped a lot but that’s football and Rutgers has been the other side of such games. What was notable is that with all three starting linebackers out, the back-ups stepped up and didn’t miss a beat. This was the most significant storyline of the game. The Scarlet Knights are developing depth across the team with the offensive line still a work in progress. To play with the upper echelon teams of the Big Ten, you need a difference-maker at quarterback, large and athletic linemen on both sides of the ball, and depth. Rutgers is building towards all three and a bowl game in 2021 would really set up the program nicely. The next two weeks should be very interesting.
David Anderson: Well no one saw that coming, as in the first blowout win for Rutgers over a Big Ten opponent since joining the conference in 2014. It felt like the reverse of the 2019 contest in Bloomington when Rutgers turned the ball over on the first play of the game and then was embarrassed, so the payback was enjoyable. The Rutgers pass offense was poor and the pass defense was inconsistent, but when you get short fields and generate a pass rush, it can offset a lot of that. Everyone knows Rutgers is a flawed team though, overcoming those deficiencies is a credit to the staff. These are the games you have to win, against an evenly matched opponent when you get early luck, and Rutgers took advantage. It proves last year wasn’t a complete fluke and should be enough to keep the recruiting class intact, a huge key heading into the offseason. Rutgers is playing with house money from here on out, especially as so many young players are ahead of schedule. The Maryland game has some juice now no matter what happens to either team next week.
Cara Sanfilippo: I was not able to watch this game live and I was almost unspoiled until I needed to look something up online and saw a headline on Google at the top of my feed. Sidenote, stop knowing everything about me Google. I didn’t look closely and still watched without much context. After being at the blowout of the opposite sense last week, can I say how weird it was to watch one in our favor? I wasn’t really even spoiled as it was pretty obvious early on that Rutgers was going to win. Might I even say, I was a little bored by the lack of suspense? I am not complaining, but it was just kind of the bizzaro version of last week and I was not used to Rutgers dominating in the Big Ten. It was nice to see a classic Schiano swarming defense, clean and mistake-free football, and the offense being serviceable. Noah Vedral was back to being who he is on a good day, and it was fun to get a glimpse of Gavin Wimsatt at the end of the game, as well as many underclassmen and backups, step up. Even Freshman PWO Joe Lusardi made a key play. I was afraid injuries would doom RU in this game and the season was over after last week, and even sort of “forgot” to write a prediction. I would have been wrong and I am so glad about it. Rutgers, you are the bad boy boyfriend of my youth, toying at my emotions. I can’t quit you. And how did “Rutger” do Indiana? This was almost as good as being Penn State. Which by the by, my good friend is an alum and sees PSU being on a skid so maybe this is a good a chance as any? Tall order, but stranger things have happened. I’m back in. Go, Knights!
Aaron Breitman: As I harped on this week, an impressive fact about this season so far is that Rutgers is 5-1 in games that were winnable. That is the sign of progress and what is necessary to maintain respectability and bowl viability year after year. Another key is that playing in the Big Ten East, in order for Rutgers to find the middle of the standings, they must beat Indiana and Maryland each season. Entering this season, Rutgers was 2-5 against the Hoosiers and 3-4 against the Terps since becoming divisional foes. Improving on those head to head records is key and regardless of what happens against Penn State, a win over Maryland guarantees a 5th place finish this season. That’s obviously not the goal, but would mark progress just the same. If you want to get nuts, a win over both the Nittany Lions and Terps, it would result in a 4th place finish in the East. That would likely garner coach of the year votes for Greg Schiano if it happens, but look at me getting ahead of myself. Whatever happens the final two weeks of the regular season, relevancy in mid-November is a satisfying change for this program.