The Rutgers Scarlet Knights welcome the Minnesota Golden Gophers for a Big Ten matchup in New Jersey. Rutgers are searching for signs of life on their roster, as they hope to avoid a record of 1-6 on Saturday. Their only win on the season came against the lowly UMass Minutemen in Week 1.
UMass have just one win as well, which came against an equally terrible Akron squad. Rutgers had a different quarterback operating the show in Week 1, too. McLane Carter was healthy then and showed that the Scarlet Knights might finally have a QB to rely on in 2019.
Nope, Carter suffered a concussion against Iowa and never returned to the field. He will never return to the field after announcing his retirement from football on Wednesday. It’s a wise move by Carter who is putting his health before football, which wasn’t going to result in a professional career.
For two or three games he showcased potential in Lubbock as a Red Raider. Nothing materialized for him and his career at Rutgers was short lived. He may be the only quarterback this season to lead Rutgers to a win, so that’s something, I suppose.
Carter beat out Artur Sitkowski in training camp to get the starting job. It didn’t last long, though, as Carter had to leave with that concussion against Iowa. When Sitowski trotted out it had to make Rutgers’ fans cringe. Sitkowski was the starter in New Jersey last season and it was, well, interesting.
Statistically, Sitkowski was the worst quarterback in the FBS. He threw a yikes worthy 4 touchdowns and 18 interceptions with just 49.1% completions. If Rutgers had anybody behind him on the depth chart then they would have went in that direction. Sitkowski had zero competition despite being that terrible, so he played out the season at quarterback.
He hasn’t turned the ball over nearly as much thus far, but Sitkowski is clearly gun shy. New head coach Nunzio Campanile, who replaced Chris Ash, is also trying to keep it simple for Sitkowski. Head below for our free Minnesota vs. Rutgers pick.
Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights NCAAF Week 8 Betting Odds:
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Minnesota vs. Rutgers Pick:
Rutgers were planning on running their offense around the ground game of Raheem Blackshear. They were going to hammer the ball with Blackshear and branch out from there. However, Rutgers and Blackshear have agreed to take a redshirt and not play in another game this season. That gives him another year of eligibility for what hopefully is a much better Rutgers team in two years. This is a lost season, so there really is no point in burning a year of Blackshear and potentially getting him hurt in blowouts.
Sitkowski has passed for a touchdown and 2 interceptions in three games this season. His only touchdown pass was against BC in a 30-16 loss. Sitkowski is a true pocket passer. Carter had a bit of mobility and could roll out of the pocket, but Sitkowski is what you call a statue. There’s nothing wrong with that if he could pass the football. But he can’t, so Rutgers is extremely limited with what they can do with him. Sitkowski doesn’t have the benefit of handing the ball off to Blackshear, either.
Rutgers will have to navigate past a Minnesota defense who have allowed just 311.8 yards per game. They’ve been strong against the pass in particular, with an average of just 192 passing yards allowed. It’s hard to have much faith in Sitkowski doing anything in this contest. In his most recent outing, Sitkowski passed for 106 yards in a 52-0 blowout against Michigan.
Conversely, Minnesota are coming off a blowout as well, but they were on the other side of the coin. The Gophers blew the Nebraska Cornhuskers out of the water by a score of 34-7. Nebraska are one of the most disappointing teams in college football this season, and Minnesota made their year a bit more miserable last week. The run game led by Rodney Smith, who is in the top-10 with 675 rushing yards per game, is going to be a load to handle for Rutgers.
The Golden Gophers are averaging 186.2 yards per game on the ground. It’s bad news for a Rutgers team who have gotten gashed for more than 200 yards rushing a game. They’ve been better against the pass, but Minnesota are likely going to keep the ball with the backs and gash Rutgers on the ground. It may not be as ugly as the Michigan game, but this looks like another blowout loss for Rutgers. A 42-7 win for Minnesota to give them the cover on Saturday in New Jersey.