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Get to Know the Opponent: Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights are bad but at least their players have fun names.

Buffalo v Rutgers Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

Last game of the regular season on Saturday as the Spartans will honor their seniors at Spartan Stadium in front of the home “crowd.” Seriously though, the tickets are crazy cheap, if you are in the area and have nothing else to do, go out and give the seniors a nice send off. The opponent is Rutgers so you’ve got that going for you too. Here’s some more to know about a school that is inexplicably part of the Big Ten now.

School: Rutgers University

Nickname: Scarlet Knights

Conference: Big Ten (East Division)

Location: New Brunswick/Piscataway, New Jersey

Head Coach: Chris Ash (3rd season)

Record: 1-10 (0-8 in Big Ten)

Mascot: The Scarlet Knight (Basically the ‘Bud Knight’ but red)

All-Time Series: Michigan State leads 6-3 (4-0 MSU since Rutgers joined the Big Ten)

Rutgers won their first game of the season and has lost 10 straight since, including getting blown out by Kansas. That’s right, blown out by Kansas. Last year MSU set an NCAA record for time of possession when they beat Rutgers 40-7 in New Jersey. If either team scores as many as they did in last year’s game it will be a surprise.

Team Stats

Rutgers has managed to climb its way out of the cellar in scoring offense, although not really because of anything they have done. The Scarlet Knights are 129th out of 130 teams in scoring, averaging 13.8 points per game. They are close to a whole TD per game worse than MSU, who is 121st in scoring offense.

The Knights check in at 104th in the nation in rushing offense, at 136.45 yards per game. Their 3.89 yards per carry is 98th in the country.

If you think it gets any better in the passing game, oh boy are you wrong. Rutgers is 126th in the nation in passing at 134.3 yards per game. The four teams below them are all option teams who attempt less than ten passes per game. Which is why you will find the Scarlet Knights dead last in college football in yards per pass attempt at 4.4 yards per pass. They have thrown four touchdowns and TWENTY interceptions.

That is the most interceptions and the second fewest passing TD’s of any team. Only Navy has few passing TD’s with three, and they have attempted less than a third of the passes Rutgers has.

If you thought MSU’s offense was bad (which it is) then Rutgers wants you to hold their beer.

How about on defense you might be wondering? Well, the Scarlet Knights are ranked 102nd in scoring defense allowing 33 points per game.

They have the 117th ranked rushing defense allowing almost 220 yards per game and they give up 5.39 yards per carry, which is 122nd in the country.

Now, their passing defense is the one area that isn’t comically bad. They are 24th in the nation in pass defense, allowing 187.9 yards per game. They are 40th in yards per attempt at 6.7 yards per pass. But they have given up 20 TD’s against seven picks.

Let’s get to know some of the key players that make this Rutgers team what it is, shall we?

NCAA Football: Penn State at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Key Players

Every team needs a quarterback right? Well Rutgers has two of them, both completing less than half their pass attempts. Artur Sitkowski has been the guy for most of the year, with 1,158 yards on 273 attempts with a 49.1 completion percentage. He’s thrown 4 touchdowns and been picked off 18 times.

Seeing more action lately is Giovanni Rescigno, who has 261 yards on a 45.6% rate and two picks without a touchdown to show for it. He can also run a little bit, which is to say he has 49 yards on 19 carries.

Both of these guys sound like they should be the names of possible suspects or cops on some version of Law and Order, which I guess it makes sense for them to be playing in New Jersey.

In the rushing game the double headed monster of Raheem Blackshear and Isaih Pacheco lead the way. Both backs have over 500 yards rushing and 100+ carries and three touchdowns each.

Blackshear is also the team’s leading receiver with 41 catches for 338 yards and two touchdowns. Bo Melton leads the team in yards and catches from the wide receiver position, and also I assume has a pop-country album due out in the off-season.

On defense watch out for Elorm Lumor (and also try saying it three times fast), because he’s got a team high 6.5 tackles for loss and is second on the squad with 3.5 sacks.

Freshman defensive lineman Mike Tverdov leads the team with four sacks and has 4.5 tackles for loss. He also plays on the hockey team’s checking line (I assume).

Kicker Justin Davidovicz has made 8-of-10 field goal attempts and all 16 extra points he has tried this year and probably should have been named David if his parents were cool.

Bonus Stat to Watch For:

This game will determine the Big Ten’s punting champion. MSU comes in with a one punt lead over Rutgers at 71-70. But, MSU’s defense has the advantage in this one, so we could easily see that flip. Both teams average about 6.5 punts per game so the most fun bet to do with your friends at the game is over/under 13 punts. Place your bets.