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Rutgers Football: Early schedule prediction for 2023 season

We are getting closer and closer to Week 1 of the college football season.

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

From way-too-early, to too-early, and now early. Schedule prediction three of four is here. What does that mean? College football season is right around the corner and it cannot come soon enough.

The fourth and final schedule prediction will come out right Week 0, which is scheduled for Aug. 26.

As the offseason has progressed, fans have had time to think about the schedule. Big Ten Media Days will take place next week with camp starting soon after. We are in the home stretch of summer but looking at the schedule does not become easier.

Below, let’s go through it for the third time to see what has changed.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Sept. 3: vs. Northwestern

Is anyone else starting to get a little nervous about this game? Hopefully not but the importance of it, not to mention Rutgers’ lack of success at home, has to bring in a little doubt.

Yes, Pat Fitzgerald is out. Northwestern is looking to put a scandal behind them off the field. The question is, will they rally behind a new coach or continue to be a door mat in the conference?

Rutgers has won a few more games than the Wildcats in recent years but the two teams have been close on paper. Let’s look at the facts from last season in the Big Ten:

  • Scoring Offense: 13th - Rutgers (17.4), Northwestern 14th (13.8)
  • Scoring Defense: 12th - Northwestern (28.3), 13th Rutgers (29.3)
  • Rushing Offense: 8th - Rutgers (128.2), 9th Northwestern (125.1)
  • Rushing Defense: 10th - Rutgers (142.9), 14th Northwestern (191.3)
  • Passing Offense: 10th - Northwestern (210.3), 14th - Rutgers (153.9)
  • Passing Defense: 3rd - Northwestern (183.4), 8th - Rutgers (206.8)

It’s a bit alarming to see how close stats were between these two teams. Of course, the passing attack for Rutgers was historically bad while Northwestern struggled against the run.Just some notes to keep an eye on moving forward. Regardless, Rutgers has to win on its home field against a team that has now seen struggles on and off the field.

Result: W, (1-0, 1-0)

June 21: This is such a big game to open the season. Who would have thought we’d be saying that about Northwestern-Rutgers? This is a game that if lost, it would leave a sour taste for the rest of the season. Rutgers enters as a home favorite against a Big Ten foe in the season-opener. Go get a win.

Sept. 9: vs. Temple

Rutgers was pushed to the brink against Temple last season. It is unknown if the team looked past the Owls a bit but it is not good enough to look past anyone. This year, this series returns to Piscataway. Last time these two matched up at SHI stadium, Rutgers scored 61 points in a runaway. Reaching this number again would be difficult but it should be lopsided once again.

Result: W, (2-0, 1-0)

June 21: The Scarlet Knights stay home after Week 1 to take on Temple. There should not be a letdown in this game, especially after a close call in Philly last year. The Scarlet Knights have to continue to roll and win this game convincingly.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Sept. 16: vs. Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech struggled offensively last season. It ranked 120th in the nation with 313.5 yards per game and scored 19.3 points per game. The Hokies prioritized this in the transfer portal hoping to make improvements on this side of the ball. In Week 3, it will still be a work in progress and this could bode well for the Scarlet Knights.

This game will feature two teams that believe they can win this game. Having Virginia Tech come to Piscataway early is great scheduling and gives fans a reason to pack SHI Stadium. It will be an interesting narrative come game week. Virginia Tech has Old Dominion and Purdue in its first two games. Who knows if they will come in 2-0 or with a loss. Either way, this will be a must-win game for both sides if the six-win mark is possible.

If you are nervous about Northwestern (even if you aren't) then you have to be a bit skittish about this one. In June, this was a win. Now, we are going to put it in the loss column and reevaluate in another month.

Result: L, (2-1, 1-0)

June 21: This might be the biggest swing game on the schedule. The good news, Rutgers will play its third-consecutive game at home to begin the season. This is likely to be a low-scoring affair. The defense for Virginia Tech will be strong as the offense comes with many question marks. If Rutgers can win this game, there might be a path to six wins.

NCAA Football: Michigan Spring Game Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Sept. 23: at Michigan

Does anyone believe that this could be like the 2021 version of this matchup at The Big House? Neither do I. Over the last two years, the Wolverines have hit their stride and Jim Harbaugh has this program near the top of the nation. J.J. McCarthy returns this season to lead the offense in what they hope will be a season that ends with a national title.

Result: L, (2-2, 1-1)

June 21: Michigan has national title hopes this season. The Wolverines finally got to the CFB Playoff, and it was a disappointing effort. A loss to Rutgers would not look good for Michigan. Jim Harbaugh could bring back memory of when Rutgers had the ball in the fourth quarter with a chance to win the game. This one will be lopsided.

NCAA Football: Wagner at Syracuse Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Sept. 30 vs. Wagner

Wagner has just two wins since 2018. After two-consecutive losses, this is the type of get-right game that Rutgers will need on its home field. The Scarlet Knights will need to put this one away early and have it act as a half-bye week by getting some rest over the final two quarters.

Result: W, (3-2, 1-2)

June 21: Rutgers returns hope for a get-right game by welcoming Wagner to SHI Stadium once again. This is a chance for the Scarlet Knights to get an easy win and get many players in the game, allowing the starters to rest in the second half.

Syndication: Arizona Republic Alex Gould/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Oct. 7: at Wisconsin

168-20 — The combined score of the previous four matchups between Rutgers and Wisconsin since 2014. Rutgers is 0-4 in those games, was shutout in 2014, and has a margin of defeat of just over 34 points. It’s hard to believe that this year will be any different. This is not to say that Rutgers will lose bu five touchdowns but winning a game in Madison seems hard to believe.

Result: L, (3-3, 1-2)

June 21: The overall strength of Wisconsin will be hard to keep up with. The Badgers play “man football” and bring more size and strength to the battlefield. With this gave taking place in Madison, it gives Rutgers another home game against a different opponent so that is a positive spin.

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Oct. 14: vs. Michigan State

By this point, we will know what each team is. Michigan State will be searching for its identity over the course of the first half. Will they be a team contending for a Big Ten title or will they be the team that turned it over seven times against Rutgers in 2020? The fact that this game is in Piscataway could be a positive — and Kenneth Walker and Jalen Nailor will not be on the field this time around.

This is the final swing game of the year for Rutgers before it enters a gauntlet in the Big Ten following Indiana. In the first seven games, Rutgers will need to find five wins if it wants to reach that six-win threshold. To this point, it is hard to believe that the Scarlet Knights can win a game they need to. Maybe that tone will change once the season begins.

Result: L, (3-4, 1-3)

June 21: This is the other swing game for Rutgers on the schedule. Yes, they beat Michigan State in East Lansing in 2020 when the Spartans were way down. Are they ready to take that step and win a game they are supposed to? This is a positive thread here in June and if Rutgers is going to get to six wins, this has to be one of them.

Oct. 21: at Indiana

With the state of Indiana football, Rutgers will need a win in this game no matter where it is played. The difference is, what will its record be? Below, we predicted the schedule with both swing games going in favor of the Scarlet Knights. This time, both went to the opponent and Rutgers will need this win to get back to .500.

Result: W, (4-4, 2-3)

June 21: This is the point of the schedule where you look at it and just can’t imagine a world where Rutgers is 6-2. That means a bowl berth would be clinched in October. That seems far-fetched but anything is possible. Entering this game, if the Scarlet Knights are 5-2, they should be sky-high against a team they have had success against. The Hoosiers continue to trend down, making this a very winnable game.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Nov. 4: vs. Ohio State

Once again, lets keep it moving here.

Result: L, (4-5, 2-4)

June 21: There is not much to say about this one. For gamblers, it will be about figuring out if Rutgers can stay within a massive number. This is one of the games that is already decided until further notice.

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Nov. 11: at Iowa

Iowa had one of the best defenses in the nation last season but struggled to put points up. The addition of Cade McNamara brings hope to the Hawkeyes’ offense but it is still a work in progress. The loss of Riley Moss and Jack Campbell on the defensive side of the ball will be impactful but Iowa will still feature an elite group.

The question is, what will Rutgers’ offense be by this week? If it is anything like last season, reaching double-digits seems like a challenge.

Result: L, (4-6, 2-5)

June 21: This will be the 10th game of the season, which means Rutgers will know a thing or two about its offense coming in. Whether that is good or bad is yet to be seen.

Syndication: York Daily Record Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

Nov. 18: at Penn State

The gap between Rutgers and Penn State remains large. It seems as though the Nittany Lions make sure to beatdown the Scarlet Knights whenever they get a chance.

Result: L, (4-7, 2-6)

June 21: Matchups matter and Penn State cares about beating Rutgers in a big way. It has gotten to the point where Rutgers struggles to score year in and year out against the Nittany Lions. With another trip to Beaver Stadium coming up, Penn State will look to continue the tradition.

NCAA Football: Duke’s Mayo Bowl-Maryland at North Carolina State Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Nov. 25: vs. Maryland

The rivalry between Rutgers and Maryland is one that should take place every year in the final week of the regular season. Recently, the Terps have gotten the best of Rutgers. After an overtime victory in 2020, Rutgers has struggled to keep up and this year feels no different. The difference in overall athleticism has been extreme and remains a reason why the Scarlet Knights have been behind. If it comes in at 4-7, there will be no chance for Rutgers to make a bowl game, meaning few reasons to show up here.

Result: L, (4-8, 2-7)

June 21: Maryland has separated itself from Rutgers since that overtime loss back in 2020. All questions will be answered to this point but it is hard to imagine that the Terps take it easy on Rutgers with many returners from last season.