Ah, Rutgers. What is there to say about a school that still constantly makes us scratch and heads and wonder at the state of the Big Ten?
For starters, zebra mussels or not, all is definitely not well on the banks of the Raritan. The Scarlet Knights are 1-5, and following the unceremonious dumping of head coach Chris Ash just four games into the season, the team is now coached by Nunzio Campanile who is handling a bad situation with as much as poise as possible.
— Fans insist that things at Rutgers are not that bad. It’s all relative, I suppose. When you’ve experienced several athletics scandals, just a bad record and a coaching search are hardly worth the panic.
— The quarterback situation, however, can only be described as dire. McLane Carter, who threw for 300+ yards in Rutgers’ lone win of the season, has retired from football for medical reasons. Art Sitkowski, who also passed for 300+ yards in a loss to Boston College, is considering sitting out the rest of the season.
— Johnny Langan has started the last two games for the Scarlet Knights. He was passable against Maryland, although he threw two picks and the offense never got untracked. The indiana game turned into a nightmare for Langan, who finished the game 5/13 for one yard and a QBR of 1.2.
— Even worse, there’s nobody with any real experience playing behind Langan. Indeed, there’s the possibility that running back Isaih Pacheco may have to line up under center.
— All is not lost, however. Rutgers punter Adam Korsak may be the best in the Big Ten. He’s been Ray Guy punter of the week three times already this season, but he keeps getting snubbed by the Big Ten. #PuntingIsWinning.
Given the general doom and gloom around Rutgers football, it’s not much of a surprise that 6-0 Minnesota is heavily favored (-28.5) in this game despite being the road team. Nevertheless, hope (of a sort) springs eternal even at Rutgers.
— Campanile knows many the coaches on the Minnesota staff (including Kirk Ciarocca and Joe Rossi), and is familiar with PJ Fleck from the latter’s time at Rutgers. He’s also impressed with the job Fleck has done at both Western Michigan and at Minnesota.
— Looking for potential silver linings to the various dark clouds, the OTB staff would like very much not to be shut out of the game and is hoping for a defensive and/or special teams score. Or possibly a big run from Pacheco. They don’t seem especially confident though.
— This game should be an opportunity for Rutgers’ players to have a bit of fun, since they have nothing to lose. It might also provide some useful preparation for potentially winnable contests against Liberty and maybe even Illinois.
Finally, here’s a Rutgers/New Jersey beat writer with his take on this game:
Minnesota -30 feels like free money. Lay the points, take the Gophers.