The UMass Minutemen travel to the birthplace of college football at Rutgers for a Week 1 matchup against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. This isn’t going to attract the biggest crowd or viewers, but there appears to be a moneymaking opportunity in New Jersey. Rutgers’ head coach, Chris Ash, is on the hot seat in 2019. I don’t know if there’s anything that can save him other than a major step in the correct direction.
Ticket sales have plummeted and it’s a direct result of Rutgers putting out a terrible product the past few years. Rutgers hasn’t been to a bowl game since the Quick Lane Bowl in 2014. Kyle Flood was ultimately canned for misconduct, and while the program has cleaned up its act, the product on the field is sinking. Texas Tech transfer McLane Carter hopes to provide a sparkplug for Rutgers in 2019. It absolutely cannot get any worse than what Artur Sitkowski did last season.
Sitkowski was the worst starting quarterback in the country. He finished with 4 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Some of his interceptions were mind bogglingly terrible decisions. The Scarlet Knights may have finished with a record of 1-11 last season, but put an adequate quarterback on their team and they beat Michigan State, Indiana, and Northwestern. A good quarterback and it would have been close against Penn State, too. Penn State ultimately won 20-7, but not before Sitkowski awarded them free points.
Rutgers only win was a 35-7 win against Texas State in the season opener. They get a much worse UMass team to open the year in 2019. UMass went 4-8 last season, which for their standards, was not a terrible season. Now, the Minutemen go into 2019 having lost a lot of talent from last season. The only playmaker they had, Andy Isabella, got drafted by the Cardinals in the second-round. He’s gone along with a lot of others on UMass.
The school is going to have to be patient with new head coach, Walt Bell. They don’t get the most difficult opponent in Week 1, but it’s still a Big Ten school who have the better talent. It isn’t saying much, but compared to UMass they do. Head below for our free UMass vs. Rutgers pick.
UMass Minutemen vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights NCAAF Week 1 Betting Odds:
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UMass vs. Rutgers Pick:
2019 is going to be an entire year of tryouts for the UMass football program. Along with a new head coach, a lot of positions on the field are going to be filled with new faces. We are likely going to see multiple quarterbacks get a chance in the offense this season.
If things are going south for their starter, expect the backup to get an opportunity to play. As of this moment, Bell has not announced who the starting QB is going to be for Friday night. That decision is expected Tuesday, but it doesn’t mean much, there is not a lot of talent to work with here.
The quarterback battle has been between Andrew Brito and Randall West. Brito is a JUCO transfer from California, who did not get many looks from other programs. Not even a school like Fresno State or San Jose State considered Brito. He is small, really small and gets lost behind linemen.
Brito is barely 5’10” and is a pro-style quarterback. If you’re that small, you better have some running ability as well. Brito prefers to sit in the pocket, though. West committed to UMass in 2014 and has seen limited action since 2015. He has passed for 45 yards on 3-of-7 passing in his entire college career.
If there was anything Rutgers did decently enough last season it was on defense. They couldn’t contain a powerhouse like Ohio State, but Michigan State, Penn State, Northwestern, and Indiana were all held under 25 points. The talent level between those programs and UMass isn’t even remotely close. They have vastly superior offenses compared to the 2019 Minutemen.
The defense will be led in the secondary by senior Damon Hayes and sophomore Avery Young. Whoever gets the call at QB for UMass, they’re going to have a lot of problems moving the ball on the Scarlet Knights. Nobody has starting experience, let alone experience against a Big Ten defensive unit.
The way I see this game, Rutgers are most likely going to be a better team than last season. That team in 2018 still blew out Texas State, who are better than this UMass squad. If Rutgers doesn’t win by at least 20 points over UMass, it’s going to be an embarrassing look for the Scarlet Knights. UMass are going to be a bottom 5 team in 2019. The spread may be 15.5, but it should be closer to 20. Rutgers gets started in 2019 with a blowout of UMass at home Friday night under the lights.