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A look into the series history between Rutgers & Northwestern

Here is a look at the history between the Scarlet Knights and Wildcats!

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Northwestern Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

In anticipation of this weekend’s opening game, I decided to go back and look at the history of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. the Northwestern Wildcats. Turns out, these teams have played each other the second-fewest times of any two teams in the Big Ten with five total games.

However that doesn’t mean that these two teams won’t be excited to add more tradition! This game will feature two teams desperate to start their seasons with a win and a chance to showcase their stuff on National Television! Let’s get into It.

All-time series: Rutgers leads 3-2. Let’s take a look at the matchups:

1919: Rutgers defeated Northwestern 28-0 in a dominant display your great grandparents probably talked about for years.

1989: Rutgers defeated Northwestern 38-27.

1991: Rutgers defeated Northwestern 22-18.

The more recent games in 2018 and 2021 are probably worth more of an examination going into Sunday.

In 2018, Northwestern came into Piscataway and walked out with a very close 18-15 victory. This was an ugly game, and after re-watching the five-minute YouTube highlights, I’m very glad Greg Schiano is now the head coach. Their was very little offense in this game and for some reason, Artur Sitkowski threw the ball 31 times while Isiah Pacheco only rushed 11 times. Here is a play-by-play of the matchup for those who have repressed the Ash era of Rutgers football.

This game started out with Northwestern taking an early lead behind freshman running back, and future pro, Isiah Bowser. The line of Northwestern was anchored by future NFL first-round pick Rashawn Slater, and they used it to bulldoze one of their first quarter drives into the end zone. Rutgers was then able to tie the game on their own scoring drive in the second quarter, thanks to Isiah Pacheco. He burst through one of the few open running lanes on the day for a long touchdown run. The Scarlet Knights were able to capitalize on this momentum and add a safety and a field goal to take a 12-7 lead. The game continued into the third quarter as the teams traded field goal drives to give the Scarlet Knights a 15-10 lead. This led to a fourth quarter that will sound all to familiar to Scarlet Knights fans. Rutgers defense stepped up to stop two Wildcat drives, but had to come back out onto the field after three and outs from the offense. The defense wore down, and Northwestern did just enough to score a fourth quarter touchdown and two-point conversion. Rutgers had a chance to go down and tie the game or take the lead but couldn’t deliver. Game Wildcats.

The next game in the series came in 2021 with Rutgers visiting Northwestern in Evanston. This game came at a bad time for Rutgers, as they just finished a three-game gauntlet against Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State. The Scarlet Knights were beat up physically and mentally may have been looking forward to their bye week after this game. This resulted in an uninspired performance in which the Wildcats won 21-7. Rutgers looked a step slow all game, and Northwestern was able to pull out the win. The loss in this game was especially disappointing as the team finished 5-7 and fell just short of an automatic bowl bid (they did luckily get to replace Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl). Here is another quick recap as a refresher.

The game began with both teams exchanging short drives and punting back and forth to each other. Northwestern was able to open the scoring in this game on a long touchdown pass to Malik Washington. Washington was hit over the middle for what should have been a nice chunk play, but poor tackling from the Scarlet Knight Secondary resulted in a 60+ yard score. The teams then traded more first quarter drives, and Rutgers missed a huge opportunity to gain momentum on a busted flea flicker from Northwestern. However in the Second quarter Rutgers was able to ride the hot hands of Noah Vedral and Bo Melton to tie the game. Melton was the engine on this drive as he caught both a deep shot from Vedral, and a toe tapping touchdown pass.

The score was not to remain tied as the Wildcats followed up on their next drive and continued to complete long passes against the Rutgers secondary. The end result was a short play action pass to their tight end Marshall Lang and a 14-7 lead. This touchdown was the end of the game essentially, as the Scarlet Knights had opportunities to add to their score but couldn’t make the key plays. Northwestern added an insurance touchdown in the fourth quarter through running back Andrew Clair, and the game ended in a 21-7 victory.

So overall the Scarlet Knights are ahead on the scoreboard 3-2, but have not beaten the wildcats this century. Here’s to hoping the Scarlet Knights are able to overcome their recent Northwestern history! Lets go Scarlet Knights! Chop Northwestern!