This Saturday is the day that Rutgers nation have been counting down to since a surprise appearance in the Gator Bowl last December. As the days start to cool down, the next four months are far-and-away the best time of the year for us football fans. But pumpkin spice lattes aside, it is still summer and ready or not, the season starts this Saturday.
How important would a Scarlet Knight win be for this program as the sun sets over Chestnut Hill this Saturday? The answer is it would be huge as it would almost insure a 3-0 start and halfway to bowl eligibility before the calendar moves into October. If this had been Greg Schiano’s decision, Rutgers would not be in Boston this Saturday. Given his druthers, Schiano would much prefer to be lining up against Villanova or Delaware State or a similar program. But this decision was made before Schiano returned to the Banks and like it or not, Rutgers will open against a more experienced team in a location that Rutgers historically has had little past success.
Boston College is a solid favorite to win the game with the last meeting being a convincing victory in Piscataway in 2019. But much has changed since then for both programs, not the least being that former Rutgers coaches will be prowling the sidelines for the Eagles while both former Eagle players and coaches are now part of the Rutgers program. Since moving to the ACC, the Eagles have been a middle-of-the-road program, while the Scarlet Knights have had to annually run the gauntlet of Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State.
Would a loss Saturday doom the season? Probably not. This is young team whose fortunes may rely on a quarterback who this time last year, was still in high school. A young inexperienced linebacking unit will have to figure out how to contain an NFL-caliber quarterback who is not only a great passer but has escapability when the pocket breaks down…………………. historically, the type of quarterback that gives Rutgers fits.
The point spread is 7 ½ but spreads are generally a crapshoot on opening week. I can see Rutgers winning this game as easy as I can see them losing it. But if the football Gods are not smiling down on the Scarlet Knights this Saturday, then next best thing will be indicators that will bode well moving forward.
First and foremost, Rutgers must look like a Big Ten team and by that, I mean holding their own or winning the battles along both lines of scrimmage. Team speed also needs to be there especially on defense against one of the more prolific passing attacks in the ACC. As mentioned before but is worth repeating, historically, these types of quarterbacks have given Rutgers nightmares. Third, Scarlet Knight fans need to see creativity. I am looking for Johnny Langan all over the field, lining not just at tight end, but at quarterback and running back. Here is looking forward to the Boston College faithful ruing the day they let Langan walk away. And if Rutgers grabs the lead late in the game, it is critical that Aaron Young and Kyle Monangai along with a revamped offensive line move the chains and keep the BC offense on the sidelines.
This is a pivotal game no doubt but not the end of the world if Rutgers returns home 0-1. A rout by the Eagles could send a young Scarlet Knight squad into a tailspin, not as much in the next two weeks but more so as Rutgers moves into its Big Ten schedule. A victory would make a strong statement for Greg Schiano’s squad in his third year at the helm and could portend good things to come as the schedule moves into October and November.
For us fans, waiting is now the hard part.