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OTB Staff Roundtable Week 1 Predictions: Northwestern at Rutgers

Our staff makes predictions ahead of Saturday’s season-opener in Piscataway.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 26 Rutgers at Maryland Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We are officially 48 hours away from the season-opener for Rutgers Football.

The Scarlet Knights are preparing to host Northwestern on Sunday at SHI Stadium. Many are considering this game a must-win for Rutgers on its journey to potentially six wins and a bowl game. Does our staff agree?

Below, check out what our staff here at OTB has to say about the first game of the year:

Greg Patuto: There are not many times you will get to say this but Rutgers has the better team in this matchup. Yes, Northwestern has had a terrible offseason but on the field, it lacks talent as well. Enjoy it, Rutgers fans. This is a statement game for the Scarlet Knights. Home game, national TV, touchdown favorite — a game that is supposed to be a win.

As a college football fan, you watch this game. It’s Week 1. It doesn't matter if there are two high school teams battling it out, football is back and fans should be excited around the country. Rutgers does not get any respect, nor has it earned any, but this is a chance to change the narrative early in the season. Go take care of business and move onto Week 2. Rutgers 24, Northwestern 13.

Matt Forno: We’ve written about and you read about it — Rutgers NEEDS to win this game. I truly believe at all three levels of the game Rutgers is better a football team than Northwestern. Are there players or specific position groups that might be stronger for the Wildcats? Probably. We do not know how Wimsatt or the WR group will play this year, so it’s not unreasonable to give QB Ben Bryant and the NW WR room the edge entering this game. However, Rutgers has the coaching advantage. The coaching experience (college and NFL) of this staff is quiet impressive and should be factored into how this game will play out. Control the clock, get first downs, force multiple turnovers. That’s the recipe for a win this week. Oh, one last thing...its not and never will be “Cats against the world.” If anything, it’s “RUTGERS against the world!” The team and fan base are tired of hearing we don’t belong in the Big Ten. It’s time to make a statement! Rutgers 30, Northwestern 13

Andrew Rice: This is as much of a must-win game as a season opener can be. If Rutgers wants to prove that it deserves to be in the Big Ten it has to have a statement win on Sunday. Northwestern has had a terrible offseason full of scandals and other off the field distractions. On the contrary, the Knights have had a pretty uninterrupted offseason with many position groups showing that they are ready to make a jump in production. A struggling Northwestern team is a perfect springboard for that jump. Rutgers 27, Northwestern 10

Francis Hearne: If you aren’t fired up to watch Rutgers and Northwestern tangle on a Sunday afternoon in Piscataway, then you don’t deserve college football. This game has rock fight written all over it. On paper, Rutgers has an edge in both overall talent and coaching. We as a group at On the Banks have beaten it to death that this is a MUST WIN game for Rutgers if there is hope of a bowl game. Therefore, I am expecting an inspired effort from this team. It won't come easy, but I anticipate a victory thanks to a strong defensive effort with the eventual deciding factor coming from a non-offensive score at some point in the game. Rutgers 20, Northwestern 13

John Dean: Rutgers enters week 1 in a situation where they need to come out with a victory. Northwestern is one of the weaker power 5 teams in the country and it would be a major blow to the program’s perception to lose to them on National TV. Fortunately the Scarlet Knights are a deeper and more talented team then the Wildcats. The defensive line should be able to stifle a weak Northwestern offensive line, and the Offense does enough to get the win. I do think it will be close enough to make Rutgers fans nervous. Rutgers 21, Northwestern 13

Jack Schocket: If game 1 of the season is ever a must-win, it’s Sunday against Northwestern. If Rutgers wants a chance to go bowling, they’ve got to start off 4-1, and Northwestern is one of the most vulnerable teams in the country right now. If the Scarlet Knights can’t get it done against a team that lost their head coach and came under national scrutiny for hazing this summer, then I’m not sure what the rest of the season holds. Rutgers is the better team, but they’re going to have to prove that on Sunday. The defense shows why they’re being heralded as potentially one of Schiano’s best groups ever, and Wimsatt and co. are competent enough to hold off Northwestern in the second half. Give me the Knights by 2 scores. Rutgers 20, Northwestern 10