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2021 Rutgers Football Game Preview #9 vs. Wisconsin

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The Scarlet Knights will host to the Badgers on Saturday at SHI Stadium.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 30 Rutgers at Illinois Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How To Watch, Stream & Listen

Wisconsin (5-3; 3-2) at Rutgers (4-4; 1-4)

Where: SHI Stadium, Piscataway, NJ

Kick-off: Saturday, November 6 at 3:30 PM ET

Weather: 55 degrees, mostly sunny with a 4% chance of rain, 3 mph winds

TV: BTN with Brandon Gaudin (play-by-play), James Laurinaitis (color), Rick Pizzo (sideline)

Stream: FOX Sports App

Radio: RWJBarnabas Health Rutgers Sports Network (WCTC 14-50-AM, WOR 710-AM, XM 196, Sirius 108) with Chris Carlin (play-by-play), Mike Feel and Eric LeGrand (analyst) and Anthony Fucilli (sideline); WRSU 88.7 FM - Jake Schmied & Doug Willig

Current Spread: Wisconsin -13

Series History: Wisconsin leads 3-0, Badgers won last meeting 31-17 in 2018.

Wisconsin SB Nation Site: Bucky’s 5th Quarter

Wisconsin Scouting Report

Statistical Leaders

Rutgers

Passing: Noah Vedral - 136-for-220, 61.8%, 1,412 yards, 7 touchdowns, 3 interceptions

Rushing: Isaih Pacheco - 420 yards on 116 carries, 3.6 ypc, 3 touchdowns

Receiving: Bo Melton - 37 catches for 412 yards, 11.1 ypc, 3 touchdowns

Defense: Olakunle Fatukasi - 71 tackles and 3.5 sacks, Max Melton - 2 interceptions

Wisconsin

Passing: Graham Mertz - 96-for-174, 55.2%, 1,049 yards, 3 touchdowns, 7 interceptions

Rushing: Chez Mellusi - 740 yards on 158 carries, 4.7 ypc, 4 touchdowns

Receiving: Danny Davis III - 23 catches for 300 yards, 13.0 ypc, 0 touchdowns

Defense: Leo Chenal - 48 tackles and 5.5 sacks, Caesar Williams, Alexander Smith, Donte Burton, John Torchio, Collin Wilder - 1 interception

What To Watch For

When Rutgers has the ball

Rutgers continues to leave much to be desired on the offensive side of the ball. Even after a 20-point performance, spirits are always high after a victory. Against an elite Wisconsin defense, the Scarlet Knights might be in for a tough day.

This begins with Noah Vedral and his ability to take care of the ball. Like against any other superior opponent, Rutgers must protect the ball and attempt to shorten the game by sustaining drives. They can do this by running the ball. It seems clear that the offense should show more Kyle Monangai. Is he the answer? Who knows but 77 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries should earn him more carries.

The offense became a bit predictable. Isaih Pacheco is the workhorse, Johnny Langan is a quarterback who can run the ball. This is where there needs to be more shakeups and that is what we saw a bit against Illinois. Monangai got a fair shake in the backfield. Langan made a huge catch and was used in different ways. Even Gavin Wimsatt made his debut and completed a pass in a huge moment.

Rutgers is not good enough and does not have the skill positions to just line up and do what they want — especially with their offensive line.

The Scarlet Knights will have to continue to be unpredictable if they want to score some points in this game.

When Wisconsin has the ball

Wisconsin is on a four-game winning streak and back in the race for the division. Offensively, this can be credited to taking care of the football and winning in the trenches.

It was not an ideal start for Graham Mertz as he tossed six interceptions during a 1-3 start. Mertz is beginning to take care of the ball with just one interception during this four game stretch. Mertz is still not putting up the numbers expected from a top recruit but it is a step forward from weeks ago.

Mertz is protecting the ball and the running backs are beginning to take over. Wisconsin has a reputation of being physical and winning games in the trenches. This has taken over during the last month. Chez Mellusi entered the year as the starter and continues to lead the team in rushing but it is freshman Braelon Allen who is beginning to take over.

Allen has rushed for 100 or more yards in each of the last four games. He is averaging 7.6 yards per carry. Wisconsin likes to gain control of the game by running the ball and this should be the focus for Rutgers. They have a strong front and have a chance to slow down that portion of the game. This means Mertz might have to make some plays and they will be available.

Rutgers has allowed a big play or two it seems like every week. This cannot happen if the defense wants to compete at the highest level. A long touchdown each week is not acceptable. The play-action game will be available for Wisconsin this week and it will be interesting to see how they put it all together.

Could Rutgers win this game?

As a two-score underdog, it is hard to imagine Rutgers pulling off an upset in this game. A few weeks ago, this was looking like a potential upset spot but Wisconsin seems to be back on track, especially defensively. It would be a big, big surprise to see Rutgers finish this game on top.

Final thoughts

Wisconsin has 13 sacks and 20 tackles-for-loss over the last two weeks. Leo Chenal is one of the best linebackers in the nation. The Badgers are back and this is not good news for Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights have four games left on their schedule. Two are winnable and this could get them to the six-win mark and bowl eligibility. This does not look like one of those games. A lot will have to happen in this one for Rutgers to come out on top. Either way, it will be a tough 60-minutes of football. That seems to be the trend when Wisconsin steps on the field.