The Rutgers Scarlet Knights opened the season with a 38-27 victory at Michigan State this past Saturday.
Rutgers closed as a 12 point underdog to the Spartans, but the Scarlet Knights quickly showed that they were far better than projected. The Knights led a 10 play, 75 yard drive to open the game and never looked back. The Knights defense and special teams forced 7 turnovers, 5 of which were fumbles. Rutgers out-rushed Michigan State 106-50.
Rutgers’ new look offense under offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson was impressive. QB Noah Vedral, one of 11 transfers brought in by head coach Greg Schiano, completed 18 of 29 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown. Vedral added 24 yards rushing and a rushing touchdown as well. RB Isaih Pacheco showed his physicality against a normally stout Michigan State defense, rushing for 61 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR Bo Melton showed that he will again be a primary target for the offense, gaining 50 yards on 4 receptions. The offense looked balanced and efficient and will allow the Knights to continue to compete.
The Knights defense was led by linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi, who had 10 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries. He was named the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts. Linebacker Tyshon Fogg led the unit in tackles with 14, including 2 tackles for loss. Transfer safety Brendon White added an interception late in the 4th quarter to seal the victory for the Knights.
In his first game back with Rutgers, Greg Schiano produced a motivated team that was ready to play from the opening kickoff. The Knights jumped out to an early lead and were able to stop Michigan State from building too much momentum throughout the game. This is the first Big Ten win for Rutgers since 2017, ending a 21 game losing streak. This is also the first time that Rutgers has won the first game of conference play as a member of the Big Ten.
Rutgers will face off against the #17 Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday, October 31st at 3:30 PM. Rutgers has not beaten a ranked opponent since 2009. Indiana will not make it easy for Rutgers to break this streak, as they beat #8 Penn State 36-35 last week. However, Penn State drastically outgained Indiana, forcing the Hoosiers to make multiple improbable plays to stay in the game, including QB Michael Penix’s controversial dive on the game-winning 2 point conversion in overtime. Rutgers will have a chance to pull off a season-defining upset this Saturday in SHI Stadium.