There are only 31 FBS teams that are undefeated going into this week and who would have thought Rutgers would be one of them. Well, I did and a few others, but they still had to do it and they did. Remember, I picked them to go 7-5 during the regular season and 8-5 with a bowl victory. I am more confident now. Let’s talk about the significance of going 3-0 and what it means to the program, fan base, recruiting and national perception.
The Rutgers football team has started the season 3-0 for the first time since 2012. Basically, RU football has been irrelevant and on life support. Yeah, I said it! It’s a bitter pill to swallow but true. Say what you will about the level of competition within the first three weeks of the season, but in my book you play who you have scheduled, and you win the games. That box is now checked!
The team’s confidence is abound starting with the defensive play with a +8 in turnovers, strong pass coverage with an average of 145 yards per game, and a yeoman like run defensive of 114 yards per game. That being said, there is no doubt that UM will be a challenge.
On offense, RU has been winning the time of possession game 33:30 to 26:30, with the help of the turnovers. The offense came alive against Delaware and will need to continue to improve, while the special teams is well, SPECIAL! How can you not be excited every time Cruikshank or Melton field a kickoff or punt? You hate to see RU offense punt, but if you have too, it is exhilarating to see Korsak drop a dime inside the 10 and even on the 1-yard line on a regular basis. He actually makes punting exciting and is a defensive weapon. Who thought a punter on a football team could be the “COOL” kid?
You always need talent on the field, however, winning starts with the ability to believe you can win and that is what 3-0 can do for this team. As Napoleon Hill so eloquently quoted, “What the mind can Conceive, and Believe, it will Achieve!”
Rutgers currently ranks as the #19 recruiting class, per 247 Sports. (Note: keep in mind Top 100 recruit Gavin Wimsatt is still classified in the 2022 class, per the site, and now is suiting up for RU on game days). 3-0 provides reassurance to the current verbal commits that the program is on the rise and what the Rutgers coaches have been “selling” them about the resurgence of the program is on or maybe even ahead of schedule.
Equally as important, is the message this sends to the uncommitted prospects in the 2022 and 2023 classes, or even potential flip recruits. Further evidenced by the importance of starting 3-0 is the fact that Rutgers added a commitment from CB Thomas Amankwaa (#19 recruit in NJ), shortly after the victory. The real value of the start is the excitement it drives with the elementary, middle, and high school players. Though many of these players will not be in the next couple of recruiting cycles, it drives visibility, loyalty and brand recognition to promote to the youth players to hopefully want to represent the State of New Jersey in the future.
From a national perspective, Rutgers is getting noticed. Not because they have been victorious against a top 25 team, but more so because of the progress they have demonstrate in two short years under Greg Schiano 2.0. The fact is that for so many years since joining the Big Ten, Rutgers has been a cellar dweller in the East division, recruiting classes have hovered around a 60+ national ranking, 1-2 wins a year have been the norm, and being on the wrong side of blowouts were a constant on Saturdays.
Under Schiano, Rutgers won 3 games against Big Ten opponents in year one and were in most every game in 2020, falling just short against Michigan and Illinois. Now they have taken care of business to start the season at 3-0, while other more notable programs have lost to FCS teams, like Washington and all-mighty Florida State, who are, eh-hem……0-3. The fact that Rutgers is going to play Michigan on national television on ABC this Saturday tells you that this program is becoming relevant again. There is confidence that the days of Michigan beating Rutgers 78-0 like they did in….actually, let’s not reference that game. I was there and it was painful.
Maybe, just maybe, there could possibly be an upset this Saturday, Have to imagine the ABC game day announcers would love that!
Dare to dream, folks. Dare to dream….it costs you nothing. If you wake up on Sunday and Rutgers is 4-0, they will be the talk of college football and the fact that it’s even a possibility at this point is significant. Enjoy it.
Bring on the DOGS and share your thoughts…….