Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
The Hoosiers travel to the Birthplace of College Football in Week 12 to face off against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights for the first time ever. This could be a pivotal game fro both teams in their quest for bowl eligibility.
Week 12: Rutgers Scarlett Knights
Time & Date: TBA, Saturday, Nov. 15th
Venue: High Point Solutions Stadium (Piscataway, NJ)
Scarlett Knights at a Glance:
Head Coach: Kyle Flood 3rd year at Rutgers 3rd year overall (15-11)
Last Season: 6-7 (3-5)
Scarlett Knights Returning Leaders:
Passing: Gary Nova (54.5%, 2159 Yds, 18 TD, 14 INT)
Rushing: Paul James (881 Yds, 5.6 Avg, 9 TD)
Receiving: Tyler Kroft (573 Yds, 13.3 Avg, 4 TD)
Preseason Magazine Predictions:
Phil Steele: 7th in the Big Ten East
Lindy’s: 7th in the Big Ten East
Athlon’s: 7th in the Big Ten East
Sporting News: 7th in the Big Ten East
Why the Scarlett Knights could win:
The state school of New Jersey enters its first season in the Big Ten as consensus bottom dwellers, but don’t let that fool you. Rutgers does have some talent on this team. The Knights return quarterback Gary Nova, who was recently named the starter for the opener at Washington State. Nova threw for 2,159 yards and 18 scores, but battled consistency issues. This is where the big offseason hire of former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen as offensive coordinator could pay off. If Nova can fix his turnover issue the Knights can turn some heads in the Big Ten. Rutgers also returns its entire starting offensive line from a year ago and should be a force to reckon with in the running game if Paul James, who ran for 881 yards in 2013, can stay healthy. While playing at High Point Solutions Stadium does not immediately scream hostile environment, it is still a road trip for the Hoosiers who have just two road victories under Kevin Wilson.
Why They Won’t Pull it Off:
Rutgers season hinges on a defense that was 120th in the country against the pass and 80th in scoring and a quarterback who has a knack for throwing the ball to the other team. This plays right into the Hoosiers hands as they have the air and ground attack to punish a team with a bad defense. If the Hoosiers defense has improved from last year it could be a long day for the Knights if Nova cannot hang on to the ball. The last thing Rutgers would want to do is give Nate Sudfeld and the Hoosier offense more chances to light up the scoreboard.
This is a pivotal game for both combatants as it is winnable for either side. Playing in the Big Ten East does not do any favors for either of these teams, so when two pretty equal teams matchup someone has to take advantage. This game can be the difference between a bowl game and sitting home in late December for the Hoosiers and it could also mean the end of the Kyle Flood Era in Piscataway if Rutgers fails to get to the six win mark in 2014.