Daniel Olinger: Rutgers 28, Northwestern 20
Tough game to both predict and likely stomach, as the two squads enter Saturday’s contest with what is best described as anti-momentum. The Scarlet Knights have lost three straight to the Big Ten powers of Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, scoring exactly 13 points in each and looking athletically overmatched every step of the way. Of course, the same can be said of the ‘Cats in all of their power five games to date, and given they’ve faced a much easier slate than RU, one can’t help but think the visitors will be the better team inside Ryan Field this weekend. Isaih Pacheco breaks a 75-yard run on the first play of the game, Rutgers scores six off a scoop-and-score or some other type of frustrating miscue from the ‘Cats and a rally ultimately falls short when Northwestern’s low-ceiling passing attack can’t make the big plays necessary to finish the final drive. Homecoming NorthRutgers, baby.
Mac Stone: Northwestern 30, Rutgers 24
Call it Homecoming magic, bye week bliss, whatever you want. I don’t really care. After seeing Rutgers fall off the face of the Earth these past few weeks, I think this remains one of Northwestern’s more-winnable games on the schedule (granted, Rutgers’ last three losses all came against ranked opponents, but still). I’ll be entirely honest, there isn’t really any real logic behind my prediction, I’m just hoping the ‘Cats have planned enough these past two weeks to not get embarrassed like they did in Lincoln and hopefully slow down Isaih Pacheco and Noah Vedral just enough on the ground to pull this one out. In all likelihood, they won’t, but hope is one hell of a drug.
Ben Chasen: Rutgers 31, Northwestern 28
In my conversation with our SB Nation friends over at On the Banks, I actually predicted this to be 8 points larger of a loss, but perhaps a bit of homecoming week spirit has prompted me to believe that Northwestern’s offense will have an extremely solid and balanced performance today.
Nonetheless, the rest of what I wrote in my prediction of this game holds true. NU’s defense hasn’t done anything to lead me to believe that they've got the goods to stop a Power Five attack, and while injury questions are everywhere for the Scarlet Knights, Isaih Pacheco and Noah Vedral, who comprise the majority of RU’s ground game, are good to go. Until Jim O’Neil’s unit shows itself capable of containing the run in any way against a legitimate opponent, I’m bearish on this team’s chances to win many games in conference play.
Jacob Brown: Rutgers 35, Northwestern 10
Some would call me a pessimist. Some would question my fandom. “How can you pick against Northwestern AGAIN?” To that, I would reply, “Who is the only writer who is 5-0 on the season?” I have yet to miss a game, and although I hope I mess this one up, I doubt it will be the case. After one of the worst games in recent Northwestern history, the depth chart had zero changes after Nebraska. Zero. This defensive is stinky. The linebackers are slow. Jeremy Meiser and Jeffrey Pooler look phenomenal, yet are not starting. Jim O’Neil doesn’t know his left shoe from his right. On the one side is a well-disciplined Rutgers squad, while Northwestern will come out and play frustrating football, lacking buy-in to the defensive game plan at this point in the season. Ryan Hillinki will look good, but the playcalling will hold him back. On the other side, Isaih Pacheco will torch the NU defense, trampling for over 200 yards. Brandon Joseph will become visibly frustrated, as his talents continue to mismanaged, and the wheels really fly off of this flailing season.
John Olsen: Rutgers 21, Northwestern 20
I’ve had a lot of people express their confidence in Northwestern this week using the logic of “It’s just Rutgers.” This group of Wildcat truthers includes my own father, with whom I now have a $10 wager riding on the Rutgers (-2) spread. If we take two proven laws about our reality into consideration here, the first being “The universe always knows,” and the second being “Jacob Brown is never wrong,” the outcome of this game has already been decided. Rutgers will win, which satisfies the second law, but only by one point, which means I’ll lose money and not even get a Northwestern win out of it, which satisfies the first law. “How will they lose by one?” you might ask. Well, based on the trajectory of the season so far, it’s going to happen as a result of either a missed extra point or Rutgers hitting their seventh field goal of the game as time expires. Both outcomes will be equally crushing, and in more ways than one for me especially.
Bradley Locker: Northwestern 23, Rutgers 20
I am extremely tepid about this one, but I think Northwestern can win for a few reasons. First, Rutgers has absolutely been through the ringer the last three weeks, suiting up against No. 8 Michigan, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 10 Michigan State and losing all such games. There's a very real chance that Greg Schiano and the Scarlet Knights could be overlooking Northwestern, who they view as far below the tier of the prior three. Additionally, Rutgers' defense isn't very disruptive, as the Knights have 10 sacks — fewer than Northwestern — so that bodes better for a Wildcats offensive line that has struggled mightily. Finally, Rutgers doesn't really have a true dynamic playmaker on offense. Their leading receiver is Bo Melton with 253 yards, and he's listed as questionable. For comparison, Nebraska's Samori Toure is third in the Big Ten, and rightly gashed Jim O'Neil's defense. I'm cautiously optimistic about Ryan Hilinski (more about that here), and desperation calling could help NU begin to salvage a thoroughly disappointing season.
Myles Gilbert: Northwestern 20, Rutgers 17
The ‘Cats are coming off a much needed bye week after being embarrassed in Lincoln, falling to Nebraska 56-7. The linebackers and secondary are going to have to elevate their play on Saturday, and Northwestern will lose this game if they continue to shoot themselves in the foot when they get into the red zone or commit costly turnovers. The season can be somewhat saved and wins can be strung together starting with a win at home tomorrow against the Scarlet Knights, who are coming off three consecutive losses, to good teams nonetheless. Hopefully there will be some good energy at Ryan Field as the 1995 and 1996 B1G Championship teams are being honored — and Fitz will do whatever he can to win as his former teammates look on. Ryan Hilinski and Stephon Robinson connect for a long touchdown in a game that probably won’t feature much offense, and Kuhbander connects on a field goal late to give NU the W on Homecoming.
Gavin Dorsey: Rutgers 20, Northwestern 16
The big question here is which Rutgers’ player will score a 75-yarder on the first play of the game. In each of their three losses, Northwestern has allowed a 50+ yard play right out of the gates, putting the team in a hole early. This hole hasn’t given us a chance to properly evaluate the offense with a balanced running and passing game, but Mike Bajakian’s unit is not entirely exempt from blame. Also in all three losses, the Wildcats have found themselves down by at least 21 before even getting a score of their own on the board. While the defense has struggled mightily, the offense must find a way to generate points early to keep the run game active. I think Northwestern manages to keep the score close early, but ultimately Jim O’Neil’s defense cannot stop a nosebleed, once again leading to the Wildcats falling just short.
Andrew Katz: Rutgers 31, Northwestern 20
Let’s all hope a bye week realigned the Wildcats’ chakras because I don’t know if I can watch them give up any more 70-yard touchdowns. There’s a world where Ryan Hilinski throws for three touchdowns and the run defense holds up against a mediocre Rutgers’ rushing attack, but I need to see it before I can pick Northwestern to beat a somewhat competent opponent. Unfortunately, Rutgers fits that bill. The Scarlet Knights are also winless in conference play, but unlike NU, they don’t have a bottom-five rush defense that’s allowing 234 yards on the ground per game. On the bright side, getting blown out by Nebraska has to be rock bottom, so Northwestern can only go up from here.
Liam Hubbard: Rutgers 34, Northwestern 17
It’s impossible to predict the score of this match-up without acknowledging the fact that Rutgers’ past three games have been against ranked Big 10 teams. As we know, they were pummeled in all of them. Yet, this brings the question — will the past three weeks of high intensity play (despite being blowout losses) help or hurt the Scarlet Knights against Northwestern? Well lets examine a bit closer. Both teams are mad. Yes, I said mad, not bad— although you could also make an argument for that. I mean, wouldn’t you be upset? The Wildcats just came off of an unbelievable season being the runner-up in the Big 10 Championship, only to now be playing at level all too similar to the 2019 season. They’ve dealt with injuries, near-comeback losses, and embarrassing blowouts both at home and on the road. Likewise, the Rutgers locker room may well be a hotbed of frustration, with repeated blowout losses themselves. So here’s the gamble — do you bet on the Scarlet Knights being so fed up with losing to good teams that they successfully unleash their anger against a weak Wildcats team, or does a well-rested and equally-eager-to-win Northwestern team come out and knock off the clumsy Rugters squad? Unless the ‘Cats come out with some Joe Spivak energy and stun their foes, it’s a W for Rutgers.
William Karmin: Northwestern 20, Rutgers 17
I came onto this site ready to pick Rutgers. And then I realized there are far too many writers picking Rutgers for an absolute tossup of a game. ‘Cats roll by three on homecoming.
Jacob Brown: 5-0
Andrew Katz: 4-1
Gavin Dorsey: 2-1
Mac Stone, Ben Chasen, Daniel Olinger, John Olsen, Bradley Locker: 3-2
Will Karmin: 2-3
Michael Barthelemy: 2-0
Meredith Revsine: 1-0
Eli Karp: 2-1
Colin Kruse: 1-1
Didi Jin, Lia Assimakopoulos: 1-2
Sarah Effress, Brian Paget, Nik Mehrotra, Isaac Diaz, Sydney Supple, Jackson Gordwin, Myles Gilbert: 0-1