Northwestern vs Rutgers: Northwestern looks to keep things rolling and maintain its hold on first place in the Big Ten West Division when it travels to Piscataway, New Jersey, to face a Rutgers team that hasn’t won since Sept. The Wildcats are coming off of back-to-back victories against Michigan State and Nebraska to claim a slim lead in the division while the Scarlet Knights haven’t won since beating Texas State in their season opener.
Event: College Football
Team: Northwestern vs Rutgers
Date: Saturday, October 20, 2018
Game Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Well look at who’s leading the Big Ten West? It might have been a bit of a shaky run, and it took an epic comeback to get by a winless Nebraska team, but it’s all right there for the Wildcats. Win this, beat Wisconsin the following week, and First, just hit the three-foot putt.
Rutgers has gone from awful to a whole other level of misery, getting destroyed last week by Maryland with a passing game that completed a grand total of two passes for 17 yards and eight scores … and five picks. The Northwestern offense is still having issues trying to find a running game with running back Jeremy Larkin done, but this week, it’s not going to take a whole lot to put this game away.
Rutgers has the least-efficient passing game in the country, has the second-worst offense, and is dead last in turnover margin. As long as Clayton Thorson can lead the way to a few early scoring drives, the defense should be able to take care of the rest. No. 1 in the nation in fewest penalties, and with a passing game that kicked it in when it had to over the last few games, the Wildcats aren’t going to screw up enough for Rutgers to pull this off.
No, really. Northwestern’s running game really, really, really isn’t there anymore. It got progressively worse over the first five games, and then it bumped back up again against Nebraska – running for just 32 yards. Even with Larkin, the ground game just didn’t work, and now it’s totally gone, averaging one yard per carry over the last three games.
As bad as Rutgers has been, it’s been losing because it can’t handle decent ground games. Illinois – who hasn’t been able to do much of anything on anyone – and Maryland each finished with under 90 passing yards. That was by choice, though, with a ground attack that was working too well.
Northwestern isn’t going to walk in and blow up for 50 points. If Rutgers can get to Thorson, and if they can force him to hurry his throws a bit and not get into a rhythm, this has the potential to be a tight battle into the fourth as long as the RU O doesn’t start screwing up and turning it over.