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The Rutgers football team closed its 2017 campaign Saturday night with a loss, but the seeds are already planted for 2018.
Despite the Scarlet Knights (4-8, 3-6) falling to No. 16 Michigan State (9-3, 7-2) by a score of 40-7, Saturday night's season finale at High Point Solutions Stadium served as a small glimpse into Rutgers' future going forward.
Now, Rutgers (4-7, 3-5) turns its attention to No. 21 Michigan State (8-3, 6-2) in the fixture that was supposed to be the toss-up for the Knight's bowl game contention.
Saturday's embarrassing 41-0 loss to Indiana was a result of the Rutgers football team not being prepared to play a game, and that falls entirely on the shoulders of Ash.
But we should give Ash credit, at the very least, for taking fault for the humiliating loss.
There was no comeback like the Scarlet Knights' 25-point storming back in this venue two years ago.
Instead, the Hoosiers kept piling on the points, as Rutgers (4-7, 3-5) was embarrassed away from home by Indiana (5-6, 2-6) in a 41-0 shutout.
With a postseason bowl berth on the line, the Rutgers football team failed to show up.
It can be wearing on a team to be expected to lose every week, but gradually throughout this season, the Scarlet Knights has taken steps to amend this.
With two games remaining in the 2017 season, it is safe to say that Rutgers is not the worst team in their division.
It may be even worse to miss a bowl game by inches than to be miles away from one.
Last year finishing at 2-10, the Rutgers football team were clearly the latter, but this year, the Scarlet Knights, sitting at 4-6 with two games to go, are in danger of just missing a bowl game. That is, if they don't win out.
They say football games are won and lost in the trenches.
And if the Rutgers offensive line was any proof of that, the Scarlet Knights would have a much better record than its 4-6 mark.
On Saturday against No. 14 Penn State, the group had another strong day — especially early on — as it paved the way for 159 yards on 4.2 yards per carry.
It has been said time and time again this season, but it bears repeating: this is not the same Rutgers football team from last year.
Rutgers (4-6, 3-4) lost to No. 14 Penn State (8-2, 5-2) by a score of 35-6 on Saturday, and though there wasn't much to love for Knights fans, there was more than last year.
Injuries happen all the time in football — it's just a part of the game. But for the Rutgers defense, the injuries have been much more than just a few nicks and bruises.
And while that might deter some teams, the Scarlet Knights have truly embraced the next man up mentality.
Most Scarlet Knight fans will spend their Saturday searching for any note of hope, as Rutgers (4-5, 3-3) battles No. 14 Penn State (7-2, 4-2) at Beaver Stadium, Nov. 11 at noon. To Nittany Lion fans, it's just another game — a stabilizer for them after dropping two straight games to then-No. 6 Ohio State and then-No. 24 Michigan State, falling 12 spots from their perch at No. 2 two weeks back.
It was beginning to look like things were unraveling for the Rutgers football team in the third quarter of its game against Maryland on Saturday.The Terrapins went 90 yards down the field to take a 21-17 lead, and the Scarlet Knight offense looked like it was stalling. Then with 9:44 left in the quarter, with Rutgers set to get the ball back, junior cornerback Isaiah Wharton let a Maryland punt hit him in the leg, leading to a turnover and giving the Terps the ball with the lead.
The Scarlet Knights (4-5, 3-3) only posted 107 yards in the air, but it was enough to upend the Maryland Terrapins (4-5, 3-3), 31-24, in a game that flipped back and forth throughout.
The Rutgers football team picked up its biggest win of the season on Saturday, when the Scarlet Knights (4-5, 3-3) were able to hold on to defeat Maryland (4-5, 2-4), 34-27 in a nailbighter.
Saturday's game against Maryland represents a chance for the Rutgers football team to prove its worth in the Big Ten. Going into the season, the feeling was that the Scarlet Knights would be able to handle Illinois and Purdue, but the Terrapins were a program on the rise with strong recruiting classes putting them ahead of Rutgers in the rebuilding process.
Both programs came into the Big Ten in 2014 with relatively successful seasons — Rutgers had its best campaign so far in the Big Ten with a Quick Lane Bowl win over North Carolina, and the Terrapins finished with their first and only winning record to date since joining the conference.Maryland makes sense as a rival if the Knights even have one.
Rutgers (3-5, 2-3) welcomes Maryland (4-4, 2-3) into High Point Solutions Stadium this Saturday at 3:30 p.m., and this time around, there is a unit advantage belonging to the Knights that could be strong enough to catapult them over the visiting Terrapins.
In the process of rebuilding the Rutgers football team, head coach Chris Ash has installed an identity within his team.
The Scarlet Knights had put up a good fight, but the Wolverines had worn them down and were on their way to an easy victory. Giovanni Rescigno had other ideas. The junior quarterback, starting just his third game of the season, led the team on its best drive of the season — an 11-play, 75-yard march down the field that was capped by a Gus Edwards touchdown run.