The Rutgers Scarlet Knights surprised everyone by going 8-5 in their first go of things in the Big Ten in 2014. With only 8 starters back in 2015, the Scarlet Knights went just 4-8.
It could have been even worse, as one of their wins was an improbable 55-52 win at Indiana. A game in which they trailed 27-42 late in the 3rd quarter. It’s also worth noting two of their wins came against Norfolk State and Kansas.
When the season was over, the school decided it was time to part ways with head coach Kyle Flood. Replacing Flood will be Chris Ash. He was the co-defensive coordinator the last two years at Ohio State. This will be his first go of things as a head coach.
Little is expected of the Scarlet Knights in 2016. Oddsmakers have their win total set at just 4.5 games and they have the worst odds of any team to win the conference.
Big Ten (East)
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|10/1||@ Ohio State|
|11/12||@ Michigan State|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
*We take the win chance by using the college football win percentage chart for each point spread.
Rutgers is one of the Big Ten teams who don’t figure to benefit from the conference moving to a 9-game schedule. Though they do get the advantage of having 5 Big 10 home games compared to just 4 on the road.
We will find out a lot about this team in the opener at Washington. The Huskies are 26-point favorites and one of the favorites to win the Pac-12 this season. If they can keep it close, they might surprise a few teams in conference play.
After that they get two winnable home games against Howard and New Mexico. These are two games they will need to win if they want to improve on last year’s 4-win mark. As things get a lot tougher in conference play.
The Scarlet Knights open up Big 10 play with 3 straight against Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan. None of which they figure to have a chance in.
However, there are four games where they figure to be competitive. Those being home matchups against Illinois and Indiana. As well as road games at Minnesota and Maryland.
Rutgers returns 9 starters on the offensive side of the ball. Typically this would be considered a positive for improvement. However, that may not be the case with a new system being installed.
The success of this unit will come down to the play of junior quarterback Chris Laviano. He completed 61% of his attempts, but only threw for 2,247 yards. He also had 12 interceptions to his 16 touchdowns. If he takes a big step forward, the Scarlet Knights could crack 30.0 ppg for the first time since 2007.
Not all the pressure will be on Laviano. Rutgers gets back their duo at running back in juniors Robert Martin and Josh Hicks. The two combined for 1,437 yards and 10 touchdowns last year.
With 4 of the 5 starters back on the offensive line, Martin and Hicks should be even better in 2016. With that said they do lose a key piece in starting left tackle Keith Lumpkin. The key here will be how the unit adjusts the faster paced offense that is being installed.
At wide receiver, the Scarlet Knights have a big hole to fill in leading wide out Leonte Carroo. While he had just 39 receptions, he had 807 yards and 10 touchdowns (missed 4.5 games). Note that the rest of the team only had 9 touchdown receptions. It will be up to seniors Andre Patton and Janarion Grant to step up.
Rutgers will have 7 more starters returning on the defensive side of the ball. Though this unit has a lot of ground to make up. Last year they gave up 34.9 ppg and 462 ypg. That was with holding Norfolk State and Kansas to a combined 27 points.
There is reason to be optimistic that this unit will be improved. A big part of that is the talent they have up front on the defensive line. Rutgers gets back 3 starters, plus return defnsive tackle Darius Hamilton, who red-shirted last year. All four projected starters are top level talent. This should be one of the top 5 defensive lines in the conference.
It’s going to be critical that the front four live up to the hype, as Rutgers loses all 3 starting linebackers. A trio that finished 1-2-3 in tackles. The biggest loss being Steve Longa, who had 3 straight 100+ tackle seasons. This figures to be a very inexperienced bunch. Sophomores Deonte Roberts and Najee Clayton are projected to start on the outside. While true freshman Solomon Manning figures to start inside.
All four starters are back in the secondary and three of those are sophomores. Keeping the young guys in check will be talented senior safety Anthony Cioffi.
Regular Season Win Total
Big Ten East Odds
Big Ten Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
*Odds updated live on our college football odds page
If it wasn’t for the coaching change, I would be much higher on Rutgers going into this season. With that said, I like the hire of Ash and expect it to pay off shortly.
The thing you have to keep in mind, is they are just 2-16 against teams who had a winning record the last 3 years. There’s a big talent gap between them and the top teams and it’s going to take some time to improve recruiting.
While I could see this team overachieving and getting to a bowl at 6-6, I don’t think it will happen. I have Rutgers going 2-1 outside the conference and 2-7 in league play for an overall record of 4-8.
Big Ten (East)
Big Ten Record
Win Total Prediction