Rutgers Scarlet Knights (0-0) vs Northwestern Wildcats (0-0)
2023-09-03 12:00:00 EDT
The Line: Betting Odds: Rutgers Scarlet Knights -3 -- Over/Under: 41
(Get latest betting odds)
The Northwestern Wildcats and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights meet in week 1 Big Ten conference college football action from SHI Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Northwestern Team Preview
The Northwestern Wildcats will be out to bounce back from one of the worst seasons in program history, on and off the field, after finishing 1-11 in 2022, and then dealing with hazing allegations and other issues in the offseason, resulting in the dismissal of Pat Fitzgerald after 17 years in charge. The Wildcats have options at quarterback, including Brendan Sullivan who threw for 589 yards, 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in relief of Ryan Hilinski, who also returns for Northwestern. Ben Bryant is also a nice get from Cincinnati after going from Ohio to the Bearcats and now Northwestern. The receiving corps also needs some time to gel, but there are some solid transfers coming in like AJ Henning and Cam Johnson from Michigan and Arizona State respectively. Cam Porter will also be expected to shoulder the workload in Northwestern’s backfield with Evan Hull drafted by the Colts. On defense, the group will be led by linebacker Bryce Gallagher, who has 273 tackles in the last three years as well as Najee Story and Sean McLaughlin up front on the line. In the secondary, Jeremiah Lewis comes back after logging 70 total tackles last season while Rod Heard is back after putting up 67 total tackles in 2022.
Rutgers Team Preview
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights will still be looking for their first winning season since 2014 after a 4-8 record in 2022, including an abysmal 1-8 record in Big Ten conference play. The QB job for Rutgers is up in the air, with Gavin Wimsett, Evan Simon and Ajani Sheppard all fighting for the job. Wimsett saw late playing time in 2022 but had accuracy issues completing just 44.8% of his passes. Evan Simon had a 300-yard day against Iowa but didn’t do much else. The only knock on Sheppard is that he’s unproven but a highly-touted recruit. The Knights also nabbed Naseim Brantley from Western Illinois in the transfer portal to aid the offense, but to be fair, it’s not like it could get much worse after Rutgers scored 20 points or less in all but three of their games in 2022. On defense, the pass rush for Rutgers should be the anchor of the team led by Mohamed Toure who hopes to have a clean bill of health in 2023 after missing all of 2022 with a torn ACL. The secondary is solid as well with Rob Longerbeam and Max Melton on the corners, while Desmond Igbinosum is back at one safety position while Flip Dixon transfers in from rival Minnesota to help bolster the Scarlet Knights’ defense.
Northwestern is 3-8 ATS in their last 11 road games and 3-10 ATS in their last 13 September games while the under is 5-1 in their last 6 September games. Rutgers is 1+4 ATS in their last 5 games overall and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 home games while the over is 9-3 in their last 12 home games.
I’m looking at the under here. These Big Ten rivalry games can be hard-hitting to begin with, and these are two teams that frankly did diddly squat offensively last season. I honestly think this could end up being one of those ugly 17-14 kind of games, so give me the under in this slopfest.