After a huge comeback overtime win over Nebraska this past Saturday, Wildcats (3-3, B1G 3-1) travel to New Jersey to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-6, 0-4). Trapped in a violent cycle of horrible seasons, Chris Ash’s team will try to steal a victory from Northwestern. Here are three things to know about Rutgers:
Rutgers may have their worst team in modern history
Notwithstanding a Week One victory over Texas State and a relatively close game with Indiana, Rutgers has struggled to compete against every opponent they have faced. While Buffalo has dominated the MAC so far this season, they blew out Rutgers in New Jersey by 29. The Scarlet Knights are currently ranked 124th in S&P+, out of 130 teams. On the adjusted scoring margin (a method of turning S&P+ results into points relative to the average FBS team at a neutral field), Rutgers has a -15.9, meaning that they would be approximately 16-point underdogs. The Scarlet Knights have also been blown out by Kansas, a team ranked 103rd in S&P+.
The Scarlet Knights have struggled offensively
This past week, in a 34-7 loss to Maryland, quarterbacks Artur Sitkowski and Giovanni Rescigno threw for a combined 8 yards on 17 attempts. Sitkowski went 2-of-6, throwing 4 interceptions, while Rescigno’s only pass was picked off. On the season, Sitkowski has thrown 15 interceptions. While last week’s performance was exceptionally poor, Rutgers consistently has had 100 rushing yards, with an average of 134 yards per game rushing. Currently, Rutgers is ranked 127th out of 130 teams in offensive S&P+ — something the Wildcats should look to capitalize off.
Rutgers’ defense has been surprisingly solid
The Scarlet Knights have had more than their fair share of offensive struggles, but the biggest bright spot for Rutgers is their defense. They are ranked 92nd in defensive S&P+, which is a big improvement relative to the rest of their team. While 92nd isn’t necessarily something to celebrate, it is a stark contrast to the mid-120s that the rest of the team is performing in. Senior defensive lineman Kevin Wilkins (3.5 TFL) appears to be a standout on a team where there are not many. The Rutgers line has struggled to gain traction, and Wilkins has been the driving force behind the, albeit limited, success. The defense, which was actually alright last season, returns seven starters but has struggled to find their footing and match the success of the 2017-18 season.