Game-By-Game Predictions for Rutgers' 2014 season
But make no mistake, Rutgers was welcomed into the Big Ten more so for its New York media connections than its football prowess.
Coming off a 6-7 season in a subpar-at-best American Athletic conference, the Scarlet Knights' inaugural season in the Big Ten could very well be a long one.
8/28 at Washington St: L
Not that the Cougars are a powerhouse by any stretch, but a cross-country travel for a still-developing, still-lacking-in-competitive-talent team like Rutgers will be too much for the Scarlet Knights' this early in the season. Mike Leach and Connor Halliday lead Washington State to a convincing home win over Rutgers to kick the season off.
9/6 vs. Howard: W
As much as I want to get cute here, let's be real. We're talking about FCS Howard on the road here. It will also have up to 14 players suspended for this game due to NCAA rules violations. Senior quarterback Gary Nova has his best game of the season and leads Rutgers to a blowout win over the Bison.
9/13 vs. Penn State: L
Rutgers gave up almost 30 PPG last year playing against the likes of UConn, SMU, and Cincinnati. Now it has arguably the best young quarterback in the country coming into their house? Penn State is no doubt still rebuilding, but Christian Hackenberg should have a field day in New Brunswick. Penn State wins fairly easily.
9/20 at Navy: L
Although the Military Academies are often the brunt of a lot of Notre Dame-related jokes, the Midshipmen have actually been a very solid football program over the past several years. They finished 9-4 with a win in the Armed Forces Bowl, and had the second-best rushing attack in the entire country last season. A retooling Scarlet Knight defense isn't quite ready for that. Navy gets the W.
9/27 vs. Tulane: W
Although the Green Wave are coming off a decent 7-6 season, they're replacing starters at quarterback and running back and still don't have a replacement penned in. They had the 18th-best scoring defense in the country last year, but I think Rutgers' senior running back Paul James has a big game and does enough to give the Scarlet Knights' the win in a low-scoring affair.
10/4 vs. Michigan: L
As Rutgers gets into the meat of its conference schedule, things will get a lot uglier. I just don't think the talent is there for it to compete at this level just yet. And it will start ugly against Michigan. Devin Gardner, who I think ultimately wins the starting QB job in Ann Arbor, throws for 300 yards and four TDs and leads the Wolverines to an easy win in New Brunswick.
10/18 at Ohio St.: L
Rutgers' first game in Columbus will no doubt be a long one. Talent-wise and athleticism-wise, there's no comparison between these two teams. This game is a Heisman stat padder for Braxton Miller, and the Buckeyes win in a blowout.
10/25 at Nebraska: L
I think we're probably looking at the last season of the Bo Pelini era in Lincoln. I fully expect another disappointing, subpar season from the Huskers. However, I think they're good enough to beat Rutgers at home. Rutgers sophomore wideout Janarion Grant has a breakout game, but Nebraska squeaks out a close one.
11/1 vs. Wisconsin: L
I think Melvin Gordon will emerge as one of, if not the best running backs in the entire country this season. This will be one of his best games of the season. A couple hundred yards from him and a few turnovers by Gary Nova result in a beatdown at the hands of the Badgers.
11/15 vs. Indiana: W
With the loss of Cody Latimore, the Hoosiers will take a step back this season. At home, I give Rutgers the benefit of the doubt here. It will be close, but this might be its only opportunity to get a win in conference play this upcoming season. Rutgers takes advantage of it and beats the Hoosiers.
11/22 at Michigan St.: L
The celebration of their first Big Ten win will be short-lived, as a tough trip to Lansing is right around the corner. Connor Cook and Jeremy Langford will both have huge days, and the Scarlet Knights will be struggling all day against Pat Narduzzi's defense. Sparty wins big at home.
11/29 at Maryland: L
The two Big Ten newcomers face off in the final game of the regular season. In an effort to somewhat salvage a disappointing debut in the Big Ten, I think Rutgers gives the Terps everything they can handle, but ultimately I think the home team prevails, and the Scarlet Knights end a rough season on a sour note.
2014 Rutgers Projected Record: 3-9 (1-7)