On November 6, 1869, Rutgers would be the host of what would later be considered as the first college football game. They played the Princeton Tigers (who at the time was known as the College of New Jersey) and won by a score of 6-4. This was probably the last time that Rutgers was relevant on the college football landscape. Okay, they’ve won one conference championship and have been to 10 bowl games but in the scheme of things, my point stands.
On September 9th, 2017, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights will welcome the Eastern Michigan Eagles to High Point Solutions (gah!) Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. The Scarlet Knights are coming off a loss against the Washington Huskies. The Eagles are coming off a win against the Charlotte 49ers.
When the Scarlet Knights Have the Ball:
The Scarlet Knights offense is led by Kyle Bolin who transferred from Louisville. In the game against the Huskies, he was 24 out of 34 for a total of 178 yards. He threw two touchdowns and two picks. He was sacked once. He has a trio of receivers in the form of Robert Martin, Damon Mitchell and Dacoven Bailey. The Scarlet Knights ground attack is led by Gus Edwards who ran for 79 yards against the Huskies. In total they gained 131 yards on the ground with no touchdowns.
The Scarlet Knights face a defense that only allowed one touchdown and got three interceptions. The Eagles allowed 166 yards on the ground but only 114 yards in the air. Granted, I’m not sure where their respective opponents compare but still it is a reference point. Based on how Charlotte’s quarterback was able to eat up ground on the outside, if Rutgers has a back that can do that, it might be a long day for the Eagles.
When the Eagles Have the Ball:
The Eagles offense is led by senior Brogan Roback. In the game against Charlotte he completed 22 out of 31 passes for 267 yards. He was intercepted and sacked once. He was unable to find the endzone through the air. His two main targets were Sergio Bailey who caught for 78 yards and Antoine Porter who received 74 yards. It seemed like the passing game was a little off against Charlotte. Hopefully, that will be corrected. The ground game was led by Shaq Vann with 90 yards. The two offensive touchdowns were scored by Ian Eriksen. I think for Eastern to have a chance, they need to get more effective with their ground game.
The Eagles are facing a defense that allowed 84 rushing yards, 284 passing yards and 30 points against the Huskies. They had no interceptions or fumble recoveries.
The Scarlet Knights are coached by Chris Ash who is in his second year as a head coach. Last year, they went 2-10 and were shut out 4 times. The Eagles are in the fourth year of the Chris Creighton era and were 7-6 last year. Last week, the Eagles showed a couple of areas of concern. It seemed like many of their drives petered out quickly. It seemed like the offense was a little off. Also, they had 10 penalties for 70 yards, that might have something to with the above.
That being said, I think the Eagles have a very good chance of knocking off both their first Big Ten (Fourteen?) and Power Five opponent. I’m going to predict a barn burner of 35-28 with the Eagles emerging on top.