Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Rutgers continues to be a bottom level Big Ten team. Last year was no different, and we expect this year to be more of the same. That being said, for betting purposes, Rutgers was a lot more valuable. Rutgers was 4-8 overall but 8-4 against the spread, including an impressive 4-1 against the spread in road games. We do not expect the same against the spread consistency this season.
Fifteen starters return from last year’s team. Quarterback Artur Sitkowski will start as a true Freshman. He is a New Jersey product and one of the better recruits the program has landed in recent memory. That being said, this conference is brutally tough and Sitkowski is inexperienced. The offense was one of the worst in the NCAA last season and returns no skill position starters. Hence, it is a complete rebuild that could lead to some embarrassing losses.
The defense consistently gave up big points against quality teams last season. Although the average points allowed was 28.3, the number is a bit skewed by a shutout against Morgan State. In addition, two of the losses on defense were NFL drafted players. This Unit will at best stay the same and potentially regress.
The over/under total for Rutgers wins is 4 and the odds to win the conference are north of 1000-1. We like the win total to fall under 4. Although week 1 against Texas State from the Sun Belt is a manageable game, we think that Rutgers will lose to Kansas and Buffalo, two teams that most Big Ten teams should be able to handle. If Rutgers were to upset Indiana or Illinois or both, we still see a maximum of three wins.
Week #1 is a home game against Texas State of the Sun Belt. Texas State was 2-10 last season and is consistently at or near the bottom of a bad conference. Rutgers will win despite it’s issues, but stay away from the game as the line may be too high.
Week #2 is a road game against Ohio State and will be a five to seven touchdown blowout. Ohio State, despite off the field issues will outclass the Scarlet Knights.
Week #3 is a road game against a subpar Kansas program. Although Kansas was awful last year, it will take only mild improvement to be able to compete with Rutgers. Although Rutgers will likely be slight favorite in this spot, we expect Kansas to win this home game.
Week #4 is a home game against Buffalo of the MAC. Buffalo despite having a mediocre 2017 in a mediocre conference is a team on the improve. They showed signs late last year of becoming more competitive and they have a quality quarterback. Although Rutgers is likely home favorite in this spot, we are predicting an upset.
Week #5 is a home game against Indiana. Indiana won in a blowout last season, and although is not a great program, it has a talent edge over Rutgers. Expect Indiana to win in this spot and cover as light favorite.