Rutgers-Arkansas Prediction

Kevin Xavier-Associate Sports Editor

The Rutgers women’s basketball team is hunting for a bounce back win and the timing could not be more perfect for Arkansas to visit the Louis Brown Athletic Center on Sunday afternoon.

Coming off a 69-54 loss at home to Missouri State, the Razorbacks enter the matchup at the RAC on a five-game losing streak, making the Hogs ripe for the Scarlet Knights’ picking.

Rutgers will look to recover after suffering a 65-43 drubbing at the hands of No. 13 Florida State in Tallahassee on Thursday.

The Knights came out flat against the Seminoles, falling behind 19-4 after the first period of play and the 15-point deficit proved too large to overcome, despite some spirited play in the second quarter.

Slow starts have plagued Rutgers on a few occasions in the young season, leading to losses at Seton Hall and in the home opener versus St. John’s, before falling to Florida State on Thursday night.

I don’t expect that to be the case today, especially for junior guard and Arkansas native, Tyler Scaife.

Scaife will be facing her home state’s team for the second time in her three-year career on the Banks. In last year’s matchup at Arkansas, Scaife poured in 13 points and pulled down three rebounds in the Little Rock native’s homecoming to the Natural State.

The then-No. 18 Knights took Scaife’s lead and cruised to a 64-52 victory over the then-No. 25 Hogs.

I see this year’s matchup as much of the same.

Scaife will amped up to show out against some of the players on the Razorbacks roster that she grew up playing with and competing against.

I’m expecting Rutgers junior guard to drop a minimum of 18 points and sprinkle in five or six assists. The Knights scoring presence, with Kahleah Copper complimenting Scaife, will be too much for the Hogs to handle, although Rutgers will need to keep a close eye on forward Jessica Jackson.

Jackson enters the contest averaging 17.6 points and eight rebounds per game, which will test Knights senior center Rachel Hollivay on the defensive end.

But Hollivay and company bottled up a premier center in FSU’s Atuk Bulgak in their last time out on the floor, limiting the Canadian to six points and five rebounds after entering the contest averaging 20.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

Rutgers will redeem itself today.

Scaife will shine and Copper will regain the form that garnered Paradise Jam MVP honors over the Thanksgiving break, where the Philadelphia native averaged 23 points and eight rebounds over three games in St. Martin.

If the Knights start fast, they won’t look back and that could lead to a 20-point margin of victory.

 

Prediction: Rutgers 68 Arkansas 52

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Rutgers head football coach update: Who’s on the short list?

Since Rutgers fired Kyle Flood earlier in the week, University President Robert L. Barchi and his administration have hit the ground running in the search for a replacement.

One day after his hire, newly appointed Athletic Director Pat Hobbs revealed that Rutgers has hired an outside search firm in order to increase the quality of the process for finding the next head football coach on the Banks.

While the next head football coach has yet to be named, other programs have made their moves. Fellow Big Ten member Maryland hired Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin on Wednesday and Miami made a splash by bringing back former quarterback and recent ex-Georgia head coach Mark Richt later on in the day.

To this point, it’s unclear where Rutgers stands in the timeline for its coaching search. On Monday, Barchi told The Daily Targum that the process could last anywhere from five days to two weeks, projecting a new head coach to be named as soon as Friday or as late as two Sundays from now.

But even with nine FBS vacancies remaining, my proposed short list of candidates is still intact, although I’m crossing a few off the list. Here’s an updated look on where Rutgers stands with some new takes on who sounds like the top candidates for the job.

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Photo: USATSI

1. Al Golden 

From the beginning, Al Golden jumped out as a clear top-two candidate and on Wednesday, he catapulted into the top spot when NJ Advance Media’s Keith Sargeant reported that Rutgers was targeting the Monmouth County native from Colts Neck. As USA Today noted, Golden also began following top New Jersey recruits and high school football programs on Twitter on Wednesday, adding fuel to the speculation surrounding a possible move to Rutgers. Golden, who has a decorated football pedigree as a four-year letter-winner at Penn State (1987-91) before serving as Virginia’s defensive coordinator (2001-05) and turning around Temple (2006-10) in his first gig as a head coach, brought in consensus top-15 recruiting classes during his up-and-down five-year tenure at the helm in Miami (2010-15). Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs went into depth on Monday about the need for the next head coach to be able to keep home-grown talent in New Jersey, and Golden’s ability as a recruiter supports that statement. While there isn’t any word on whether Rutgers has offered Golden, the progression should be watched closely as the week winds down. If Hobbs thinks he has his guy, all signs point to the idea that it could certainly be Golden.

2. Greg Schiano 

The former 11-year head coach in Piscataway appears to have interviewed every job but his old one on the Banks. Greg Schiano reportedly ended up as a finalist for Southern California on top of a strong consideration for a return to Miami, where he served as the defensive coordinator in 2000 under Butch Davis before beginning his rebuild of Rutgers (2001-11). The consensus is that the fans in scarlet all want Schiano back, but his lack of interest is obvious. Schiano, who resigned from Rutgers and bolted for the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-13) where he went 11-21, has been out of the game on both levels for the past two seasons despite reportedly wanting to climb back in it. He even interviewed at Central Florida before the Golden Knights named Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost their head coach on Tuesday. But with the Miami job closing, one he reportedly had strong interest in, it remains to be seen whether or not a return to Piscataway may still be in the cards for the Wyckoff native. The only other reasonable landing spot for Schiano seems to be Virginia, which could easily make a move for another Rutgers short list candidate in Al Golden. Still, with the last top head coaching spot out of the way, it narrows things down for both parties. Despite a reported lack of interest in returning, could Schiano just be testing the waters of the programs he wants to know about before ultimately deciding on the one program he already knows best?

3. Chris Ash 

Chris Ash practically came out of no where, but he’s reportedly surging up Rutgers’ short list of candidates. Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman reported on Wednesday that Ash, who withdrew from consideration for the same vacancy at Syracuse as reports surfaced of the Orange zoning in on Bowling Green head coach Dino Babers, has drawn interest from Rutgers. The 41-year-old is new to the short list here, known best for overseeing Ohio State’s defense as a co-coordinator and defensive backs coach since 2014. Before joining the Buckeyes, he served the same positions at Wisconsin (2010-12) where the Badgers had the No. 13 scoring defense (19 points per game allowed) and a Rose Bowl appearance in the 2011 season before he eventually left to join former Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema’s staff at Arkansas (2013) for a year. Given Rutgers’ defensive woes, especially with a young but promising secondary that took its lumps, Ash makes sense when it boils down to the X’s and O’s. While his recent Twitter activity is much quieter than Al Golden’s in terms of whom he’s followed recently — and ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported that both are “high interest candidates” at Rutgers — Ash could be looked at as an underrated recruiter if it comes down to it. He’s spent plenty of time on recruiting trips with Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, who knows a thing or two on talent acquisition with the perennial power he’s revived over in Columbus. Maryland took a similar route when it hired Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, another Meyer coaching disciple from his days at Florida who also has influences from Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. Could Ash become hotter for Rutgers as the week continues?

4. Ed Warringer 

Similar to his defensive counterpart on the coaching staff at Ohio State, Ed Warriner reportedly gained interest from Rutgers on Wednesday as well. Cleveland.com’s Ari Wasserman, citing an anonymous source, said the Ohio State offensive coordinator has received “expressed interest” regarding the head coaching vacancy in Piscataway. Warriner has been running the Buckeyes’ offense under head coach Urban Meyer since he arrived to Columbus after two years as the offensive line coach at Notre Dame. After three years as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at OSU, Warriner was promoted by Meyer to run the show with full reign in 2015. In each of those years, his power-spread look has kept Ohio State among the top offenses in the country with a powerful push from a physical offensive line that Warriner is credited for developing. Given Rutgers’ inconsistency on offense and poor showing down the stretch from its offensive line this past season, that could definitely serve as a plus for Warriner’s case. On top of his approach to the game schematically, Warriner is known as a prominent recruiter in New Jersey which is clearly what Rutgers hopes its next head coach provides. He has 32 years of experience coaching at the collegiate level, not to mention his oversight of the offense at Kansas when the Jayhawks weren’t the laughingstock of Power Five programs and went 12-1 with an Orange Bowl championship behind one of the top offenses in the country. Given his resume, Warriner could emerge as an under-the-radar candidate that sure makes a lot of sense at Rutgers. Oh, and the guy who he spent time with as co-offensive coordinator at Ohio State? That’s Tom Herman. Google him if you don’t already know the name and you might see that there’s a reason why he became a hot coaching commodity after leading Houston to an 11-1 record into championship weekend in his first year on the job. That last offensive coordinator under Meyer ended up doing pretty well. Could Warriner have the same impact if he were to end up at Rutgers?

5. Mario Cristobal 

Just as it did roughly four years ago when the Rutgers head coaching search for Greg Schiano’s replacement took place, Mario Cristobal’s name surfaced once again as a likely candidate on the administration’s short list earlier in the week. But the word on the consensus Recruiter of the Year has been quiet as of late. The Daily Targum’s Kevin Xavier reported that multiple sources within the donor community at Rutgers cited Cristobal as a leading candidate when the job opened up earlier in the week, but the former Florida International head coach is the one candidate on the Scarlet Knights’ short list that hasn’t gained much public traction in any subsequent reports this week. Part of that could be that from Cristobal’s current position as Alabama’s offensive line coach, with the Tide preparing for their SEC Championship game against Florida this Saturday. But Hobbs’s mention of a desire for strong recruiting ties to New Jersey still gives Cristobal, a member of the Schiano coaching tree who oversaw the tight ends and offensive line for Rutgers from 2001-03, reason to remain here on the short list. The likelihood of Cristobal to Rutgers remains to be seen, and it appears that the top two could still be set on Schiano and Al Golden, but could talks heat back up if the administration in Piscataway doesn’t make any moves over the weekend? With ‘Bama expected to make the College Football Playoff and the first round set to begin roughly a month from now on New Year’s Day, Cristobal would have plenty of time to focus on listening to what Rutgers has to say.

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @GarrettStepien and @TargumSports on Twitter.

 

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Rutgers head football coach candidates: Who’s on the short list?

Now that the dust has settled from Robert Barchi’s relentless clearing of house with Julie Hermann and Kyle Flood getting chopped on a day that might as well be forever known as Scarlet Sunday, the Rutgers football program finally has some sense of direction.

Barchi acted quickly, ending Hermann’s turbulent two-and-a-half-year tenure as Director of Athletics and immediately hiring Patrick Hobbs to a five-year deal with an annual salary of $560,000.

Given the route Rutgers football has taken to this point — and the dizzying rate it’s come at — the next head coach of the Scarlet Knights could be announced as soon as Monday or Tuesday.

But before that becomes official, let’s take a look at the top 5 candidates for the job that should be on Hobbs’ short list.

 

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Photo credit: The Daily Targum

 

1. Greg Schiano

Reportedly, he’s been at the top of Rutgers’ list for some time now. And why wouldn’t he be? The Birthplace of College Football began in 1869, but any source of tradition in Piscataway truly picked up when Greg Schiano built Rutgers back up, brick-by-brick, from a laughingstock to a respectable program in his 11 years (68-67) at the helm. After four losing seasons, Schiano steered Rutgers to its first bowl game since 1978 in 2005 and guided the Scarlet Knights to a 56-33 mark in his final seven years with a 5-1 record in six bowl games. That’s besides the fact that he can recruit his home state of New Jersey on top of his South Florida ties. Despite throwing up a dud in his two years as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-21), Schiano’s pedigree is still there with his experience at both levels adding as extra recruiting pitches. And the last class he had together at Rutgers in 2012 remains the highest in program history. He’s now been out of work for the past two years, serving as an NFL analyst for ESPN, but has expressed his desire to get back into coaching at the college level. He tested his curiosity with at the biggest stage in the NFL after turning down offers to Miami and Michigan when he was a hot commodity at Rutgers. Oh, and that whole off-the-field circus that ensued under Kyle Flood? None of that would happen on Schiano’s watch, given his disciplinarian nature predicated on accountability. Could Rutgers bring the remarriage together early this week?

 

2. Al Golden

Miami fired Al Golden on Oct. 25 when the tipping point came in a 58-0 blowout to Clemson, but is it fair to scrutinize his five-year tenure that much? Golden inherited a mess at Miami from the Nevin Shapiro scandal, and the heat was always on for him to bring the Hurricanes back to glory. That didn’t happen on the field, but there still isn’t any discounting Golden’s ability to recruit. The results might not make him out as the best when it comes to Xs and Os, but Golden still consistently reeled in some of the top talent in the country to Coral Gables with consensus top-15 classes. The Colts Neck, New Jersey, native was the first to set longtime FBS doormat Temple in the right direction with a 9-4 record and bowl appearance in 2009. His next step at Miami was a mixed bag, but could his strong ties to the northeast and his home state make the 46-year-old the right fit at Rutgers?

 

3. Mario Cristobal

After nearly taking the head coaching vacancy at Rutgers following Greg Schiano’s departure, Mario Cristobal elected to stay at Florida International, where he coached for five years (2007-12). But Cristobal compiled a 27-47 overall record and was fired in the same year he turned down the job at Rutgers with a 3-9 mark, with FIU brass citing the program’s regression after two years of back-t0-back bowl games. Since then, he’s been on Nick Saban’s staff at perennial powerhouse Alabama as the offensive line coach, where he earned consensus Recruiter of the Year honors from all major college football recruiting sites earlier in 2015. So as far as recruiting top talent, especially in a backyard where New Jersey’stop players have a tendency to leave, Cristobal can be the guy to keep them home at Rutgers. He even has ties to the Banks from 2001-03 under Schiano as the offensive line coach and tight ends coach. Reports have surfaced again that he is in the discussion for the job at Rutgers, but would he take the job now over his alma mater, Miami, where he won two National Championships as a player years ago?

4. Matt Rhule 

If Rutgers had its choice to go after any candidate with full reign, it’d have to be Matt Rhule. The Temple head coach turned the Owls into a top-25 talent after the respective departures of Al Golden to Miami and Steve Addazio to Boston College, giving Philadelphia college football an identity by throwing Temple into the national spotlight with the program’s toughness and grit. Rhule is the sexy hire, given his energy and young age at 40 years old, but chances are he’ll have much better offers on the table. Footballscoop.com reported that Rhule had already been set to interview for Missouri’s head coaching vacancy on Sunday, which should is one that would easily trump Rutgers. It’s unsure how much of a play Rutgers might realistically make for Rhule, but that doesn’t mean he should entirely be left off the short list of candidates when the administration considers the next head coach in Piscataway.

5. Joe Moglia

Who knows how to run a team or organization better than Joe Moglia? The 66-year-old spent nearly two decades at Merrill Lynch as a member of its executive committee before being appointed to Chief Executive Officer of Ameritrade Holding Corp, now TD Ameritrade, where he oversaw a steep growth in client assets and market capitalization. But enough with the images of suits and ties and dollar signs. You want passion? Despite maintaining a chairman position for TD Ameritrade after stepping down from his CEO post, Moglia took an unpaid/voluntary position as Bo Pelini’s assistant coach at Nebraska before taking on a pair of separate gigs as the United Football League started up. He landed as the head coach at Coastal Carolina in 2011 and turned the Chanticleers into a national power, albeit on the FCS level, making the national playoff each year with a 41-13 record through four years. He’s a native New Yorker from the heart of the city in Manhattan who brings perspective, passion and leadership with unique character. It remains to be seen what he would be able to do on the recruiting trail and his age may serve as a turn-off if Rutgers is looking for its next head coach to be the long-term leader in needs on its pursuit of one day becoming a Big Ten power, but don’t entirely cross Moglia off the list as a dark horse candidate.

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @GarrettStepien and @TargumSports on Twitter.

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Rutgers-Maryland prediction

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The Daily Targum’s sports desk predicts the outcome of Saturday’s noon game between Rutgers (4-7, 1-6) and Maryland (2-9, 0-7) on Senior Day at High Point Solutions Stadium.

Sports Editor Garrett Stepien

It’s been a long season.

The honeymoon of Rutgers’ inaugural season in the Big Ten — one with an 8-5 overall record and 3-5 mark in conference play — was over from the moment 2015 began.

Seemingly in all facets of the game — on and off the field — the Scarlet Knights have struggled mightily to build off their surprising momentum sustained from 2014.

A whirlwind of arrests, suspensions and injuries plagued Rutgers to this point. The program couldn’t even avoid negativity heading into the open day where it’s set to honor its senior class, as an NJ Advance Media report cited how embattled head coach Kyle Flood and Athletic Director Julie Hermann were both fighting for their jobs entering the weekend.

But as far as everything is concerned on the field, the Knights should remain focused on a Maryland team that can easily drop them even lower than their current state.

Despite a seven-game losing streak in a season where they’ve lost their own head coach when Randy Edsall was fired midseason after a 49-28 pummeling at Ohio State, the Terrapins still pose a threat to spoil Senior Day.

It’s highly unlikely they’ve forgotten how Rutgers mounted a 25-point comeback — a 41-38 thriller — in last year’s regular season finale on Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium in College Park.

So understanding the talent gap still isn’t very much different, I expect Maryland to come out swinging.

Along a shaky offensive line that headlines a depth chart depleted by injuries, the Knights should have their hands full containing a Terps pass rush led by Yannick Ngakoue, who is the single-season sacks leader in College Park now and second in the Big Ten with 13.5 sacks on the year.

Rutgers, which seems to only thrive on offense only when it can sustain the proper running attack to aid inconsistent sophomore quarterback Chris Laviano, needs to get the push necessary to set the tone on the ground against a front seven yielding 3.73 yards per carry.

The Knights’ running backs should be ready, but it remains to be seen how the carries will be split.

Senior Paul James ran for a season-high three touchdowns and 116 yards on 18 touches last week at Army — and should have some extra juice ready in the fifth-year’s final home game — but how will sophomore Josh Hicks’s return to the backfield alter that?

I can easily see a scenario where Rutgers folds … in front of its home crowd … on Senior Day. At this point, nothing surprises me.

But I’ll give the Knights the benefit of the doubt. Senior Leonte Carroo (probable, lower body) said he’d “definitely play,” and sounds determined to go out with a bang as he takes a bow on the Banks.

Altogether, it should be enough to stifle the Terps in back-to-back years and end the season on (somewhat) of a high note.

Rutgers 30, Maryland 24

 

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Rutgers-Army football predictions

The Daily Targum sports desk offers its predictions for the Rutgers football team’s 11th game of the season as the Scarlet Knights (3-7, 1-6) head up to West Point to take on the Army Black Knights (2-8).

Sports Editor Garrett Stepien

Unfortunately, I won’t be making the trip up to West Point to cover this one for The Daily Targum.

And that’s a shame, because I’m actually anticipating the first win for the Rutgers football team in over a month.

The Scarlet Knights (3-7, 1-6) hit rock bottom with their 31-14 defeat last week to Nebraska at High Point Solutions Stadium. Fans rained Kyle Flood in boos when the fourth-year head coach appeared on the jumbo-tron in the south end zone for a drunk driving PSA in the first half.

So it’s safe to say things are … well, not good in Piscataway right now.

But the best (and only good) thing about hitting rock bottom is that there isn’t anywhere to go except up.

Rutgers completed what felt like a never-ending run on a treadmill through the grueling gauntlet of the Big Ten and came out of it with four lopsided losses where it was blown out by an average of 44.25-11.75.

The struggles were well-documented on both sides of the ball, from sophomore quarterback Chris Laviano’s nosedive since a career game Oct. 17 at Indiana — the Scarlet Knights’ last win — to the nonexistent defense and a depth chart dropping like flies.

But things should change Saturday along the Hudson River.

It won’t be easy. Army (2-8) boasts the No. 9 rush offense at 253.3 yards per game, and the Black Knights do it in confusing looks out of a unique triple-option attack.

Flood knows Army and head coach Jeff Monken’s offensive schemes will try to hit the Scarlet Knights’ defense with an option that they haven’t seen since Sept. 20 of last year when Rutgers pulled out a 31-24 win at Navy.

And Flood also said the secondary will remain honest for the Black Knights’ lesser-known passing game that gets yards in chunks through the air — Army ranks 125th out of 127 Football Bowl Subdivision teams with 78 yards per game — but let’s face it, a young and thinning defensive backfield has to be looking forward to a bit of a break here.

Rutgers’ bowl hopes (because, yes, somehow the Scarlet Knights could still sneak into a bowl game despite a 5-7 record due to their high APR and 80 teams in the mix for 40 postseason games) ride on this game. Against a lesser talent — and a team going through far more struggles facing lesser competition — there is no excuse here.

Rutgers 31, Army 17

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While he said during the week that he doesn’t feel like he’s coaching for his job this weekend, head coach Kyle Flood knows Rutgers needs to get back in the win column against a 2-8 Army team.

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Rutgers-No. 16 Michigan game predictions

Sports editor and Rutgers football beat writer Garrett Stepien preview and predict the outcome of Saturday’s game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-5, 1-4) and No. 16 Michigan Wolverines (6-2, 3-1) at Michigan Stadium.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — As I sit here from this luxurious press box at Michigan Stadium, I can only imagine what the empty aluminum bleachers in front of me will look like when the Rutgers football team meets Michigan down on the turf less than a couple of hours from now at 3:30 p.m.

Packing a capacity crowd of 109,901, there’s a reason why they call this place “The Big House.” And I expect it to fill to the brim with the Maize and Blue.

Similar to the past Big Ten venues the Scarlet Knights have played in since joining the conference last year — namely with Ohio Stadium, Beaver Stadium and Camp Randall Stadium — it’s in a different stratosphere from High Point Solutions Stadium back in Piscataway.

In the five games it has played in Big Ten road venues holding capacity crowds of 75,000 or more, Rutgers is winless, getting outscored by a walloping average margin of 45.8-11.4.

So why should this time be any different?

Given the state of the program right now, the only question is how much sign of life can the Knights show — and for how long.

Rutgers (3-5, 1-4) limps into Ann Arbor having given up an average of 49.7 points in its past three games. The past two have been blowouts.

Its star wide receiver and straw that stirs the drink on offense, senior Leonte Carroo, is out as he continues to nurse a low body injury. The next man up, 6-foot-6 junior Carlton Agudosi (lower body) is questionable as well.

Chris Laviano’s numbers in his past two times out (14-of-34, two interceptions and a fumble) have been the worst of his young career. Those stats plummet even deeper without Carroo or Agudosi on the field.

It doesn’t matter how good the Knights run the ball with their deep rotation if they can’t rely on Laviano to help bear the load in the passing game. And with how high the No. 16 Wolverines (6-2, 3-1) rank in all facets of their swarming defense, how can anyone reasonably expect Rutgers to have a shot in this one — let alone get on the board?

Expect a heavy load of 3-and-outs, which should only wear down the Knights on a defense, a unit that ranks among the worst in the country to begin with.

It’s all just too much for Rutgers. The setting, the opponent, the obstacles — everything.

No. 16 Michigan 34, Rutgers 0

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Rutgers-Wisconsin predictions

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Sports Editor Garrett Stepien

MADISON, Wisc. — From my view in the press box here at Camp Randall Stadium, it’s hard for me to not imagine a raucous site of 80,000-plus on hand for today’s Halloween matchup between the Rutgers football team and Wisconsin.

The Scarlet Knights (3-4, 1-3) already backpedal into their latest Big Ten game after last week’s 49-7 beatdown in ABC’s primetime game of the week against No. 1 Ohio State.

While head coach Kyle Flood & Co. assure that they’ve put the Buckeyes behind them entirely, the Badgers (6-2, 3-1) present the latest challenge for Rutgers at the midway point of its conference gauntlet.

But given the circumstances surrounding today’s contest, I can’t imagine a likely situation where the Knights return to Piscataway with a win to even up their record at .500.

As bruised and injured as Wisconsin might be, the Badgers are still a team that I believe belongs in the AP Top 25. Head coach Paul Chryst’s roster is loaded with talent, and his program’s resilience to grit and grind through the adversity with a next-man-up mentality tells me that Wisconsin has more than enough to take care of the Knights.

This Rutgers offense goes as Leonte Carroo (questionable, lower body) goes. Without the senior wide receiver, the Knights are 1-2 — a 28-3 loss at Penn State and last week’s defeat to Ohio State, the only win coming over a winless Kansas program that sits at the bottom of the FBS — and it hasn’t been a secret that sophomore quarterback Chris Laviano hasn’t been the same without his go-to guy in the star wideout.

In those two losses, Rutgers managed a meager total of 10 points. Laviano has three interceptions to zero touchdowns, struggling to sustain drives without Carroo on the field aside from the fourth quarter of the 55-52 comeback victory against Indiana. It took a late Hayden Rettig touchdown pass to get the Knights on the board and prevent the shutout against the Buckeyes while Laviano managed to get Rutgers a field goal in a sloppy performance at PSU.

So I’m curious about his availability. If he can’t give it a go, the chances for a return to the Banks with a win slims tremendously.

The Badgers’ defense presents a scheme that the Knights’ offensive line and Laviano haven’t seen all year. The blitz schemes Wisconsin can throw, on top of the athletes they have at outside linebacker in Vince Biegel (9 sacks) and Joe Schobert (13 sacks) with two-way athlete Tanner McEvoy lurking behind at safety.

And while Wisconsin doesn’t light it up on the opposite side of the ball, senior quarterback Joel Stave (27-9) just gets it done for the Badgers. After passing concussion protocol earlier in the week, he was cleared to play and it he’s listed as the starter on the two-deep depth chart today.

Star running back Corey Clement (questionable, groin) hasn’t played since the opener against Alabama and isn’t listed here on the two-deep, but Wisconsin still has enough weapons on offense to live without him against Rutgers.

Kickoff conditions look dreary at 46 degrees and a 90-percent chance of precipitation. Between the showers, lack of momentum and task at hand in a top-ranked defense, I see something very similar to last year’s sloppy 37-0 shutout back at High Point Solutions Stadium.

Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Rutgers 3.

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Associate Sports Editor Kevin Xavier

Although the setting has changed, the scene is familiar.

Last season Rutgers welcomed Wisconsin for Homecoming and the Badgers ran roughshod over the Knights in a 37-0 whitewash. This year’s version should be a little more competitive. Wisconsin is down in 2015, suffering through injuries and inexperience along the offensive line.

And with Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo’s health still in question an hour before kickoff, the outlook for the Knights is as bleak as the forecast at Camp Randall–dark, bleak and periods of rain.

Sophomore quarterback Chris Laviano was taught a lesson last week against No. 1 Ohio State. After silencing his critics with impressive performances in consecutive games (at home vs. then-No. 4 Michigan State and on the road at Indiana), Laviano regressed against the Buckeyes, going 10-of-20, for a measly 117 yards and a pick.

If the lifelong Long Islander wants any chance at keeping this game close, the Rutgers line will need to provide a clean pocket, which is easier said then done. Wisconsin linebackers Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel are two of the premier pass rushers in the country, let alone the Big Ten Conference. The duo could spell trouble for the Knights as a crowd of 80,000-plus will be cheering them on, making it difficult for Rutgers to get the play calls.

Knights’ linebacker Steve Longa will get his usual 10-15 tackles, but he’d need over 20 to contain a Wisconsin offense that puts up over 400 yards of offense per game.

If Carroo can play, Rutgers has a shot to keep it close, but if not, the outcome could rival the Buckeyes 49-7 rout of the Knights last Saturday. Either way, I’m anticipating a long day for Rutgers.

Prediction: Wisconsin 38, Rutgers 13

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