Rutgers football: 3 takeaways from win over Michigan State

rutgers football

It’s finally time for Big Ten Football teams and fans to fear the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers football is entering this season as a completely new team, shocking fans and opponents on Saturday as they defeated Michigan State 38-27, ending a 21-game conference losing streak. For a team that lost all nine of its conference games last season, starting this year off with a Big Ten win means something different. Yes, this was a great win, but it means something bigger for the Scarlet Knights. As they enter what could be a very promising year with new head coach Greg Schiano, let’s look at what this game can tell us about the rest of Rutgers’ season.

Rutgers back under Schiano

Schiano is back in New Brunswick, a desperately needed head coaching change for Rutgers. Expectations for Schiano were high, as he already led the team to six bowl games from 2001 to 2011. Rutgers has not seen much success since Schiano’s last reign and was expected to improve under his coaching. Clearly, he has proved to shape a different Rutgers team than we have yet to see in the Big Ten Conference. The previously sloppy, laughable team has emerged as a potential threat to the stronger conference teams.

The ability to capitalize

A huge component of Rutgers’ win on Saturday was the fact that Michigan State allowed seven turnovers. The Scarlet Knights took these opportunities and capitalized on them, which allowed them to continue to solidify their lead throughout the game. Twenty-one of their 38 points were scored off of these turnovers with two big interceptions coming from Brendon White and Tre Avery. Isaih Pacheco stood out with 61 rushing yards and two touchdowns, helping the team stay in the lead for the whole game. It’s important to note that of Rutgers’ five touchdown drives, three were under 30 yards because of these turnovers. The Scarlet Knights had only 106 rushing yards total. So yes, we don’t know yet if Rutgers can take the ball far, but a team that can take advantage of its opponents’ mistakes is a team that will be successful this season.

Quarterback Noah Vedral passed for 169 yards, completing 18 of his 29 attempts, allowing one interception. Vedral, a senior transfer from Nebraska, presents strong stats from this game, and it will be interesting to see how he steps up in this quarterback position for the rest of the season.

A little bit of hope

This may seem like a silly game takeaway but for the Rutgers football program, hope is everything. It’s also something the team and its fans have not experienced in years. And what can hope do for the Scarlet Knights? Well, it can help them contend. They played hard and proved themselves as potential competitors on Saturday, and that is momentum they can ride for next weekend. Lack of skill is not the only thing that put Rutgers into a 21-game conference losing streak. It never had the morale to break through it. It needed this win for a bit of confidence if nothing else. The Scarlet Knights are proving to be one of the more exciting teams to look out for this season.

Photo by Kelly Carmack | The Daily Targum