From May to August. From way-too-early, to too-early and early. Now, we have reached the final schedule prediction for the 2023 Rutgers Football season.
Stats, score predictions, records, and more will be introduced at the bottom. Why? The excitement of football is at an all-time high. This series began in May strictly because the urge to watch 11 men on each side and hear the crunch of the pads began very early this year.
College football season is just one day away from beginning. Week 0 will take place tomorrow, giving us a taste of football. Next week, a full slate of Week 1 games will begin Thursday and run through Monday, with Rutgers opening up on Sunday against Northwester.
As the offseason has progressed, fans have had time to think about the schedule. It is now the time to go all in on the Scarlet Knights.
Below, let’s go through it for the third time to see what has changed.
Sept. 3: vs. Northwestern
This has been a must-win game for Rutgers since the schedule was released and it has not changed. Northwestern has been at the bottom of the Big Ten over the last two years. It ha won just four games overall and have a record of 2-16 in conference play. This is on the field. Of course, the Wildcats have dealt with issues off the field as well.
Regardless, Rutgers has to be ready to go. The Scarlet Knights are not good enough to just throw the helmets on the field and win a game.
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)
What Rutgers has in its favor is home-field advantage. SHI Stadium should be full of fans looking to celebrate the start of football season with a victory. This matchup will be a stand-alone, nationally-televised game on a Sunday.
Gavin Wimsatt is the new starter. Samuel Brown is expected to be healthy. The defense has a chance to put on a show while Kirk Ciarrocca needs to showcase the new offensive scheme. The bottom line is, this would be a disaster for Rutgers to lose this game.
It is the first time that the Scarlet Knights open with a Big Ten opponent at home since Greg Schiano returned to Piscataway. Of course, Rutgers beat Michigan State in the season-opener in 2020. It’s the perfect time to make a statement.
Result: W, (1-0, 1-0) - Rutgers 27, Northwestern 10
Sept. 9: vs. Temple
From 61-14 to 16-14...is anyone nervous?
No, you shouldn't be. Just thank Shaquan Loyal for last year and put that game out of your memory, along with the season as a whole.
Stan Drayton is entering his second year as head coach of Temple and has ways to go to build a winner. What the Owls do have is a quarterback that is going to show up and play tough. This is where the pass rush of Rutgers can show that it improved as well and can get in the backfield.
E.J. Warner took over as starting quarterback last season. At 6-feet tall and 190 pounds, Warner might be undersized but he did not shy away. As a freshman, Warner threw for 3,000+ yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. This includes a 527-yard performance against East Carolina, which was a program record.
Rutgers stays home after Week 1 and despite a short week, it should be able to cruise here. The Scarlet Knights should keep last year’s matchup in their heads right up until kickoff as a reminder not to take a team lightly.
Result: W, (2-0, 1-0) - Rutgers 38, Temple 14
Sept. 16: vs. Virginia Tech
This game will be viewed the same for both sides — a must-win game against a struggling program. Will home field advantage make a difference here? That is yet to be seen but Rutgers has to come away with a win here.
The Hokies finished 3-8 last season and are projected to be near the bottom of the league once again. There is turnover within the program right now where it does not know which way is up. Virginia Tech had one of its worst offensive years in history last season, averaging 19.3 points, the lowest since 1989, and ranked 120th nationally in total offense (313.5 yards per game).
The Hokies added help from the transfer portal hoping to improve skill positions. The backfield is expected the be a strength but the offensive line remains a question mark. Again, these two teams enter the year with some big similarities.
Brent Pry did not find success in his first season. The good news for him, he was not blamed considering the glaring lack of talent. That might be the case this year and a loss to Rutgers would reflect poorly. With that being said, the Scarlet Knights need to take advantage here and start out 3-0 once again.
Result: W (3-0, 1-0) - Rutgers 21, Virginia Tech 17
Sept. 23: at Michigan
Rutgers actually has a win in this series. The problem is, it was back in 2014 and Michigan has a 78-0 victory since. For whatever reason, the Scarlet Knights have been able to compete in recent years (last year for a half at least) but the question is, are the Wolverines on an even higher level this year? It looks like it.
After two straight trips to the CFB Playoff, and two early exits, Michigan has National Title hopes this season and a close game against Rutgers would be an eye sore.
Beginning in 2020, Rutgers has competed well in this matchup. The pandemic-shortened season should have produced a victory but the Scarlet Knights let a 48-42 game get away in triple overtime. The next year, Rutgers went up to the Big House for a national televised game and competed as best they could during a 20-13 loss.Let’s not forget that Rutgers had the ball late in the fourth quarter hoping to tie the game.
And of course, last year’s game. Rutgers held a 17-14 lead at halftime but did not come out of the locker room. The Wolverines scored the final 38 points to win the game handily.
J.J. McCarthy is back. Blake Corum is back. The defense is going to be strong once again. Michigan has high hopes for this season and should handle Rutgers once again. If Rutgers enters this game 3-0 with a victory already in the Big Ten, it will be an easy one to handle with what comes next.
Result: L, (3-1, 1-1) - Michigan 45, Rutgers 13
Sept. 30: vs. Wagner
Wagner Football finished 4-7 in 2018. Not great obviously but the free fall has been serious since then.
The Seahawks have won just two games since 2018. This includes a pandemic-shortened season in 2020. Wagner won one game each in 2019 and 2022, both coming against Long Island University. Basically, this is the perfect get-right game for Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights are hoping to open the year with three-consecutive wins before going to Ann Arbor. That should be a lopsided contest but the Scarlet Knights return home for their final non-conference game before hitting the Big Ten hard.
Last season, well Rutgers dominated:
- Score: 66-7
- First Downs: 33-9
- Total Yards: 585-145
- Rushing Yards: 328-19
In this game, Rutgers had nine players log at least one carry, three players rush for 60+ yards, and five go over 40 yards rushing. It is hard to predict 60 points but the Scarlet Knights are hoping that the offense is improved this year, especially by Week 5.
Result: W (4-1, 1-1) - Rutgers 55, Wagner 7
Oct. 7: at Wisconsin
Wisconsin was one of the big winners, not just in the Big Ten, but in the nation during the offseason. The hire of Luke Fickell was a home run as the Badgers look to improve from last season.
After a 2-3 start, the surprising news of the firing of Paul Chryst hit Madison. Wisconsin seemed to find the perfect replacement in Fickell. Offensively, the team will have to take a step forward under Phil Longo. The 33-year coaching veteran comes to a place where Braelon Allen has led the offensive charge but has gotten inconsistent quarterback play. This is similar to Rutgers where the offense has question marks but the defense will be strong.
The difference is, the talent gap is still wide.
Since Rutgers joined the Big Ten, it has lost all four contests against the Badgers. The combined score in those games? 168-30. This comes with an average margin of defeat of 34.5. Even that number seems a bit low. Of course, Rutgers was within two scores in 2018 when it lost 31-17.
It is unknown if the number will be that lopsided this year but it is a tall task for the Scarlet Knights to march into Madison and think about an upset victory. Maybe one day but this shouldn't be the year.
Result: L (4-2, 1-2) - Wisconsin 31, Rutgers 10
Oct. 14: vs. Michigan State
The schedule here works for and against Michigan State at the same time. In one sense, it could be viewed as a potential trap with in-state rival Michigan coming up the next week. On the other hand, the Spartans will be coming off a bye heading into this game.
This match has turned into a rivalry in recent years. This was Greg Schiano’s first game back at Rutgers in 2020. It was a victory for the Scarlet Knights in East Lansing in a game they forced seven turnovers. Since then, it has been all Spartans. This includes a lopsided victory in 2021.
The good news for Rutgers is that Kenneth Walker III is not walking onto the field on October 14. Instead, it will be a Michigan State team that took a major step back last season after Mel Tucker signed his mega-contract to remain as head coach.
Last year’s contest was as even as could be. Rutgers scored a touchdown in each of the final three quarters. Michigan State scored a touchdown in each of the first three with six points in the fourth quarter. Expect the same type of game this time around.
Rutgers has not faired well at home so this might not be much of a factor but it has the chance to muck up this game. This is the ultimate swing game of the season for Rutgers, who will likely need this win to get to six on the year when looking at the schedule. It is certainly winnable but the Spartans will sneak out of Piscataway in the end.
Result: L (4-3, 1-3) - Michigan State 31, Rutgers 24
Oct. 21: at Indiana
Indiana is down and will likely stay down during the 2023 season.
Rutgers will be viewed as a winnable game for most teams on the schedule and that includes Indiana. The Hoosiers do not have many chances for a victory this year and Rutgers might be one. With that being said, it is up to the Scarlet Knights to not let that happen.
Rutgers has won the last two meetings against Indiana. In 2021, it was a 38-3 handling in Bloomington. Last year’s contest was closely-contested. The Scarlet Knights escaped with a 24-17 win in Samuel Brown’s breakout performance. The freshman finished with 28 carries for 104 yards and a score. Expect something in the middle here.
If you’re Rutgers, this has to be viewed as a can’t-lose game. Indiana is down and is expected to finished as the penultimate team in the conference, ahead of only Northwestern. It is important that Rutgers continues its win streak against Indiana and makes a statement.
Result: W (5-3, 2-3) - Rutgers 27, Indiana 13
Nov. 4: vs. Ohio State
Stop us if you've heard this before, Ohio State is the favorite to win the Big Ten and conference’s best odds to make the playoff and win a national title.
Oddly enough, this isn't the Scarlet Knights’ worst matchup in the conference. What that means is, recently Rutgers has stayed within the number and actually scored a few points.
This is the second of three “cover” games for Rutgers, meaning there is no chance of a victory but gamblers can look for the Scarlet Knights to stay within a number. Last season, they did (depending on where you got the number). Can it happen again?
We have to discuss something here, right?
Ohio State has scored 50 or more points in six of nine games against Rutgers. In the other three, they scored 49 exactly. In the first five matchups between these two teams, Rutgers scored a total of 27 points, including shutouts in back-to-back years. In 2019 and 2020, Rutgers actually scored over 20 points in this game.
There is no line out for this game yet but you can assume it will be in the 30s, depending how Ohio State looks with a new quarterback over the course of the year. If there is an upset on the schedule for Rutgers, it won’t be here.
Result: L (5-4, 2-4) - Ohio State 48, Rutgers 14
Nov. 11 at Iowa
Brian Ferentz is back as offensive coordinator in Iowa City...that just can’t happen. But here we are. Kirk Ferentz has certainly created some turmoil by bringing his son back after one of the worst offensive showings in the nation.
Thankfully for the Hawkeyes, the defense was All-World. This unit will be strong once again and Iowa is hoping that an overhaul of the offense can matchup.
It begins with Cade McNamara. Ferentz brought in the former Michigan quarterback to bring some electricity to the offense. It was clear that McNamara would be looking for a new home after the emergence of J.J. McCarthy in Ann Arbor. The Hawkeyes are hoping he has a chip on his shoulder. Tight end Erick All also came over from Michigan. Iowa also added wide receivers Seth Anderson and Kaleb Brown.
Iowa needs to score points. There is no way around it. The return of Brian Ferentz rubbed people the wrong way and the fans will not hesitate to turn on him if the season starts out poorly. Seven points has to be a product of touchdowns — not a field goal and two safeties.
Regardless, this is an upset opportunity for Rutgers but by this point of the year, Iowa’s defense should be charged up and playing its best football. This could be a low-scoring, ugly contest but Iowa prevails on its home field.
Result: L (5-5, 2-5) - Iowa 20, Rutgers 10
Nov. 18: at Penn State
This remains one of the most lopsided matchups for Rutgers and it is not going to get any better this year. One thing we know is that Penn State loves to beat Rutgers. With national title hopes for the Nittany Lions, do not expect them to get tripped up at their home field.
Penn State is 31-2 all-time against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights won the first-ever matchup back in 1918 and has won just once since (21-16 in 1988). Not one has Rutgers not come close to a victory, but it has struggled scoring points since joining the Big Ten.
The Scarlet Knights scored 10 points in last year’s game. This was just the second time since 2014 that the team reached double-digit points. In the last nine meetings, Rutgers is averaging 5.4 points per game.
It is not crazy to think that Penn State could keep Rutgers in single-digits once again.
Let’s not discuss Drew Allar of the group of returning skill players. The defense for the Nittany Lions has a chance to be one of the best in the nation. For Rutgers, that is not a recipe for success. If Rutgers can get to the five-win mark by this contest, it will go into the final week of the year looking for No. 6. It will not be coming here.
Result: L (5-6, 2-6) - Penn State 31, Rutgers 6
Nov. 25: vs. Maryland
The dreaded rivalry week matchup with Maryland. The 2020 game was fun but this has not been a favorable spot for Rutgers over the last two years. Entering this game in with five wins would be a familiar spot for Rutgers and it would hope that the outcome is different.
The stage was set in 2021. Both Rutgers and Maryland were 5-6, Terps coming to Piscataway, and hope was in the air. Well, it was quickly sucked out of the stadium as Maryland jumped out to a 20-2 lead and that was all she wrote.
Maryland is expected to have its best team in awhile in 2023. Taulia Tagovailoa is back and the offense remains quick. Maryland has developed an aggressive style under Mike Locksley, who has the program going in the right direction.
Let’s keep this short. Rutgers and Maryland do not like each other. A loss in the season final is never easy, especially when a bowl game is on the line, but here we are.
Result: L (5-7, 2-7) - Maryland 34, Rutgers 17