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There are some schools that just don’t fit in where they end up and Rutgers is one of them. I have nothing against the Knights and I think head coach Greg Schiano is one of the best but can they win in the Big Ten? I think most would agree it is extremely unlikely at least on a consistent basis. In 2021, they have 18 returning starters and landed two four-star in state recruits and kept them in New Jersey. These are promising things as they try and improve on a 3-6 finish from last year.
Offense: This will be the strength of the team and they have 10 starters back that averaged 26.7 points per game in 2020. QB Noah Vedral is set to lead Rutgers and is coming off a decent year. Redshirt freshman Evan Simon will push him and has the potential to take over the job. RB Isaih Pacheco ( 1,795 career yards and 14 TDs) is physical and Aaron Young can catch the ball coming out of the backfield. Bo Melton is back at wide receiver and he caught 47 passes for 6 touchdowns in 2020. There are other guys in that group also. The offensive line has starting experience and should be adequate. The offense looks to be in good shape but the QB position is worrisome.
Defense: The core of the defense is back and they were decent last season. Linebacker seems to be a strength with Olakunle Fatusasi (101 tackles, 11 for loss) heading up the group. The secondary has experience but lost a leader in Brandon White. The defensive line returns 3 starters but must replace Michael Dwumford. If replacements can be found for the players mentioned this group could be good.
9/11 at Syracuse
The non-con schedule is interesting and is critical to the Scarlet Knights. The Delaware game won’t be as easy as one would think but it is a must win. The other two games are absolutely winnable and if they can get them both they will enter the conference schedule 3-0. Going 2-1 is mandatory but will be disappointing.
9/25 at Michigan
102 Ohio State
10/9 Michigan State
10/16 at Northwestern
10/30 at Illinois
11/13 at Indiana
11/20 at Penn State
The Scarlet Knights play five games on the road and the schedule is difficult. Games at Michigan, Northwestern, Indiana, and Penn State are going to be really tough. The other game at Illinois is one they have to win. Home games include must wins against Maryland and Michigan State. The other two against Wisconsin and Ohio State are not going to be wins.
Summary: This team has some potential and a non-conference schedule that could net three wins for them. They then would only need 3 more to become bowl eligible. The defense looks decent but the I’m not sure they have enough talent at QB.
Predicted Finish: 7th Place in the Big Ten East
Overall Record: 4-8
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