Rutgers has not defeated Wisconsin since joining the Big Ten. More alarmingly, the Scarlet Knights have scored just 30 points in four games.
Many look at this week’s matchup as a chance for Rutgers to potentially pick up a signature victory against a Big Ten West power but it cannot happen if the offense does not gain a bit of momentum.
During his game week press conference on Monday afternoon, Greg Schiano previewed the Wisconsin defense.
“Defensively, I think their front seven is really strong,” Schiano said. “They play with great technique, they play with great effort. Their hands, very heavy-handed front. Their linebacker, they have actually three or four of them that are really fine players. We’ve seen some of them in the past but good players. Really up front seven is going to be tough, very tough physically, and they are really good at hitting their fits. In the secondary, they go after the football. They are very aggressive.”
This is one of the concerns for Rutgers heading into the weekend. Wisconsin might not have hit its stride just yet offensively, which is expected with a new head coach and quarterback, but the defense remains big, strong, and aggressive.
The talent gap between these two teams has been wide and this might not be the year that it. The hire of Luke Fickell remains a home run in the offseason and he will have Wisconsin back near the top almost immediately.
“I know Coach Fickell well, he’s an excellent coach,” Schiano said. “We worked together for a year. One of the best coaches I’ve been around, literally, from an X & O standpoint, from a motivation standpoint, just everything and a great man, great family. He really does an awesome job. He did it at Cincinnati. He’ll do it there. Really, like I said, one of the best I’ve been around.”
Schiano touched on the Wisconsin defense at length on Monday and that will be the key to the game — can Rutgers move the football? Take away one play against Michigan and the answer was consistently, no. Yes, there was a missed field goal and pick six on fourth down inside Michigan’s zone but there was no feeling that Rutgers could take the ball and score a touchdown when it needed to.
Rutgers should remain in this gammon the strength of its own defense. On the other end, it will be interesting to see if Gavin Wimsatt and the Scarlet Knights can gain any momentum.