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Know Your Foe, Week 11: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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Another week, another red team.

Indiana v Rutgers Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Rutgers University

Stadium Location: Piscataway, New Jersey
Enrollment: 67,000
Home Stadium: High Point Solutions Stadium
Head Coach: Chris Ash, 1st year, 2-7 (.222)
Conference: Big Ten (East Division)

Series History

First Game: November 9, 1918 (Rutgers won 26-3)
Last Game: September 19, 2015 (Penn State won 28-3)
Overall: Penn State leads 24-2
Current Win Streak: 9, Penn State

Last Season (4-8 overall, 1-7 conference)

Rutgers’ 2015 season had a rocky start, beginning with an investigation into violations of NCAA regulations and school policy around Flood's improper contact of a professor concerning a student's academic status; and the arrests, suspensions and dismissal of several football players on violent felony charges for an April 2015 home invasion robbery. Flood was suspended for three games after the investigation found improper contact was made, then was fired at the end of the season along with athletic director Julie Hermann.

Rutgers’ football team never quite recovered from all the drama, going 4-8 overall, winning only against Norfolk State, Kansas, Indiana and Army.

Offseason

Rutgers’ 2016 class is ranked as the nation’s 61st recruiting class (12th in the Big Ten) as compared to PSU’s 2016 class ranked at 20th in the nation, 4th in the Big Ten.

Head Coach Chris Ash came to Rutgers right before the start of the season after serving as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator the previous two seasons.

Last Week

Last week Rutgers lost 49-0 to Michigan State, their third shutout of the season. Michigan State rolled over Rutgers with 440 total yards of total offense to Rutgers' 149.

Currently Rutgers is 2-8 overall (0-7 in the Big Ten, last in the conference).

Offense

Rutgers returns 81% of their offense (and Penn State returns 53%). Last year, Rutgers finished 84th in the nation in total offense (8th in the Big Ten). This year things aren’t looking great for the Scarlet Knights as they’re 128th in total offense (14th in the Big 10) – dead last.

Rutgers’ key playmaker on offense was wide receiver Janarion Grant, who had 138 yards rushing, 210 yards receiving, 21 yards passing, 307 return yards, and 6 Touchdowns… but he ended the season in September with an ankle injury, a huge blow to the Scarlet Knights.

Who’s picking up the slack with Grant out? Rutgers is looking to wide receiver Jawuan Harris (400 yards receiving, 32 receptions, 3 touchdowns). The Scarlet Knights are also relying on running backs Robert Martin (547 yards rushing, 105 attempts, 1 TD) and Justin Goodwin (411 yards rushing, 98 attempts)

Rutgers has had a bit of a quarterback controversy. The team started the season with junior quarterback Chris Laviano at the helm (70/145, 48.3% pass percentage, 748 yards, 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) but made a change in October, moving to sophomore Giovanni Rescigno (57/108, 52.% pass percentage, 638 yards, 5 touchdowns, 5 interceptions).

Defense

Rutgers is returning 90% of their defense this year (and Penn State returns 63%). They were 112th in total defense last year, one of the worst in 2015, but have improved slightly to 94th in total defense. This year the team is ranking 23rd in pass defense, so Trace McSorely may need to watch the sky when he’s going in the air.

Free safety Kiy Hester, a former 4 star recruit, is a player to watch (33 tackles, 5.5 TFL with 3 passes broken up).

Penn State will also have to keep an eye on defensive end Julian Pinnix-Odrick, who leads the team in sacks (4.5) and tackles for loss (8.5). Defensive tackle and captain Darius Hamilton has 15 tackles and 2.5 TFL so far on the season for the Scarlet Knights.

Special Teams

Rutgers went with their walk-on kicker David Bonagura, who’s been solid and steady, going 10 for 12 in field goals and making 19 of 20 extra points.

Blog

Check out the SB Nation blog On the Banks to read more about Rutgers football.