8/28 at Washington State
Mike Leach is heading into his third season at the helm in Pullman, and has already taken a team that was at the bottom of the barrel and turned them into something competitive. He's won nine games in two years, which doesn't sound so awesome, but when you consider that it took the Cougars four seasons to win nine games before Leach's arrival, popping some champagne would be in order. Make no mistake, this could be a rough start for the Scarlet Knights' 2014 season.
I'm not sure who Howard is, but I hear he's a real jerk. He's scheduled to get his ass kicked around 3:30 over by the bike racks.
9/13 Penn State
I don't think it's a stretch to say that "the team from pennsylvania" is going to be the key game for teams like Rutgers and Maryland due to their geographical proximity, and a rivalry which also manifests itself in recruiting the same kids in the east. Although Rutgers and Penn State have played 24 times, the last time came in 1995 when PSU won by a margin of 59-34. The Lions are 22-2 overall against Rutgers; the last loss for Penn State was back in 1988. With a new and dynamic coach on the sidelines for PSU, and the equally dynamic (if frustrating) Christian Hackenberg leading the team, the lopsided nature of this series will probably continue.
9/20 at Navy
Even though Rutgers is 7-2 against Navy this century, Navy have won fewer than eight games only one time since 2007 and have always had very good running game, ranking second in the nation last year with an average of 325.4 ypg in 2013. Keenan Reynolds will be returning to the backfield for the Middies, and he'll bring last year's 1,346 yards and 31 touchdowns with him. With the struggles facing Rutgers, Navy will sink the Scarlet Knights. See what I did there?
After taking three seasons from 2010 to 2012 to win eight games, the Green Wave were able to jump up to a respectable 7-6 in 2013 and in just the second season for Curtis Johnson as the head coach; he won only two games in his first season. That's an impressive improvement by any standard and it was all done with defense, too. If Nick Montana and the rest of the offense can make some improvements on that side of the ball, the Green Wave could actually turn into something special again. Ranking 115th in total offense as they did last year isn't good, but that 7-6 tells you just how good the defense was. We'll see if they can repeat that success.
In a weird twist, two of college football's most storied programs will be meeting for the first time ever in 2014. Since there's no historical data to look at, I'll be a complete and total homer and call this one in favor of the Wolverines.
10/18 at Ohio State
The Buckeyes were knocked out of the final BCS title game by Sparty last year, and OSU followed that up with a loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Sure, Ohio State does a great job of running through everyone for the majority of the season, but Urb just can't get his team over the hump at the end. All of those games he won since arriving in Columbus didn't include a Big Ten Championship or a National Championship, and he had shots at both. Rutgers will still get smoked in this one, but at least they'll be able to feel somewhat confident that the Buckeyes will be held out of a title of any sort once again. Maybe.
10/25 at Nebraska
Nebraska beat Rutgers by a score of 28-0 in their last match-up...in 1920. The Husker offense will be led by the erratic Tommy Armstrong; if he can just manage the game a little bit and give the ball to Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska should be in a good position to win a decent number of games. One of those games is sure to be against Rutgers in Lincoln.
And the body blows just keep comin'. I'm not sure what the final score will be, but I'll be very surprised if it's something other than 70-14 in favor of Wisconsin. Once gain, we're dealing with two teams who have never played, so we have to go with what our eyes have seen of each team independent of the other; Wisconsin is one of the most dominant teams out there, and they'll run up and down the Scarlet Knights six ways from Sunday.
It's always "we're almost there" for Indiana, isn't it? Last season was going to be the breakthrough season, and although the Hoosiers failed to make a bowl, it was still a sort of breakthrough. Defeating Penn State was no small feat, and the Hoosiers did it quite handily. The question marks for Indiana are not on offense, however; they are on defense. IU ranked 120th in total defense in 2013, allowing 527.9 yards per game and just under seven yards per play. Kevin Wilson made the change from Doug Mallory to Brian Knorr as the defensive coordinator in order to stop the bleeding. There's nowhere to go but up.
11/22 at Michigan State
Resistance is futile.
11/29 at Maryland
Although Rutgers actually has some talent that may be able to match up well with Maryland's, but Maryland's C.J. Brown may have the slight edge in talented receivers to gain the advantage. With Ralph Friedgen as the Rutgers O.C. going up against the team he used to lead, this game could turn into a shootout. Maryland should still be able to take advantage of a team that will be looking to just get a start on next year.
- Sure Things -- Howard, Tulane
- Toss-up -- Indiana
- Thanks for playing -- everyone else
It's just going to be a rough debut for Rutgers. Sure, they get Penn State, Michigan, and Wisconsin at home, but that doesn't really mean anything; those are still guaranteed losses. Road contests against Ohio State, Nebraska, and Michigan State? Allow me to pile on the heap of destructive predictions that were thrown on the Scarlet Knights from here, there, and everywhere. Whoa, here comes another one!
Alright, I'm predicting three wins to be the maximum for Rutgers this year. It should be noted, though, that I can't say for sure what is going to happen. Like most of you MnB-ers, I haven't watched a ton of Rutgers football; I don't know who has left the program in order to let better talent step up. It's still tough to look at the schedule and see much more than what has been predicted. Yeah, they could grab a surprise here or there, but that still leaves 'em at only about four or five wins.
Long story short, Rutgers is Mr. Orange and the fans are Mr. White...