It is no secret that Rutgers has not had success at home in the Big Ten. In fact, the last time Scarlet Knights won a conference game in Piscataway was on Nov. 4, 2017.
The opponent that day — Maryland.
Now, over four years later, Rutgers will face a win-and-in game on Saturday as the Terrapins visit SHI Stadium for the final regular season game of the year. If the Scarlet Knights do not come away with a victory, it could be the final game of the year.
The idea of Rutgers potentially sneaking into a bowl game at 5-7 was realistic until the outcomes from this weekend. Now, there are just nine spots left to be filled in 41 bowl games. The 82-team field will be complete after this weekend of play including four matchups of 5-6 teams.
Coming into the week, there were 10 spots available but Ball State defeated Buffalo on Tuesday night to pick up its sixth win of the season.
Rutgers and Maryland come in with identical resumes. Both are 5-6 overall with a 2-6 record in conference play. The wins for both sides — Illinois and Indiana. There is not much that distinguishes the two sides but one of them will be the ninth Big Ten team to qualify for a bowl.
Along with Rutgers and Maryland, there are three other matchups that will feature two 5-6 teams. Those games are Florida State-Florida, Charlotte-Old Dominion, and Middle Tennessee-Florida Atlantic.
Ball State was one team able to win its sixth game prior to Saturday. San Jose State will be looking to do the same if it can upset Fresno State on Thursday. Also, TCU and South Alabama will decide their fate on Friday night.
When looking at the path for a 5-7 team to a bowl game, it is a bit foggy. Teams are selected in order of NCAA APR score. Those scores have not been released publicly.
The Big Ten currently has eight teams prepared to play in a bowl game and waiting for its final bid whether it be Rutgers or Maryland. Ohio State will be firmly in the College Football Playoff if it is able to in out but the destination for other teams remains a mystery — other than Michigan who could be a favorite to represent the conference in the Rose Bowl.
When looking at potential destinations for Rutgers, it tells the story. The Scarlet Knights have been linked to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, which makes sense given the short trip to the Bronx. Other games include the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix or the Detroit’s Quick Lane Bowl, which became a serious contender after this past weekend.
The sentiment is clear for Rutgers heading into the weekend — win the football game and get into a bowl. Kickoff is currently set for Noon ET at SHI Stadium.