The sun was shining down on Rutgers football today, as, following a huge second-half performance from the Scarlet Knights, Rutgers defeated Indiana 31 to 14, getting the boys in scarlet their sixth win of the season and granting the Knights bowl eligibility for the first time since 2014. Rutgers now sits at 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten, and with a tough stretch of games to end the season, today's win was a huge one.
Despite several key mistakes by the Hoosiers, the Scarlet Knights led just 17-14 going into the half. A stagnant offense plagued Rutgers for what feels like the thousandth time over the past decade, but whatever Greg Schiano said to his players at the half ignited a spark. A ground assault on Indiana ensued, and the Hoosiers had no answers. The Scarlet Knights dominated the second half, scoring 14 points in the final half en route to the victory.
Wimsatt threw just 12 passes today, completing 5 of them for 39 yards, but the lack of passing offense didn’t matter, as Rutgers ran 53 times for 286 yards. Offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarroca rode the run game, and it paid off. A spearheaded attack by quarterback Gavin Wimsatt and leading rusher Kyle Monangai gained over 250 yards on the ground with Wimsatt barreling into the endzone 3 times including an 80-yard run that put this one on ice for the Scarlet Knights. For Monangai, the Big Ten’s leading rusher, it was his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season.
Everyone knew that Rutgers was running the ball, but it didn’t matter. The Hoosiers could not stop them.
The rushing attack was Rutgers’ heartbeat today, helping the Scarlet Knights to dominate time of possession, but it was the special teams unit that took everyone’s breath away. For the second straight week, the punt block unit came through in a big way with a beautiful block and score early in the second quarter. Later, just before halftime, Robert Longerbeam fell on an Indiana muffed punt, giving Rutgers a 17-14 lead going into the break. Special teams have always been a huge strength of Schiano’s teams, and they made a difference today.
Today was far and away the biggest win of the Schiano 2.0 era, it solidifies the return of Rutgers football and means a lot more than just an extra game in December. For a program that has been defined by its irrelevance over the past decade, a bowl game means everything. Greg Schiano came back to Rutgers and once again showed the world that he could succeed in Piscataway.
At a school where nobody else has been able to win, Schiano did what he does best. He built a team to play tough, bruising football, and one that can outwork the rest of the Big Ten. No, the Scarlet Knights aren’t a powerhouse, but they’ve given their opponents all they can handle this season, and are 6-2 for the first time since 2012. The bottom line: Rutgers is going to the postseason.