The Indiana Hoosier football program looks to recover from its first loss of the season as it hits the road for a Big Ten contest at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are looking to recover from a string of three bad losses in a row that has them sitting at 1-3. Rutgers has lost those three games by an average score of 50-10.
Today we take a look at what the local Rutgers media is saying about Indiana and Saturday’s game slated for noon Eastern Time on BTN.
A QUARTERBACK COMPETITION LINGERS IN NEW JERSEY
Indiana fans are quite familiar with quarterback competitions, as Peyton Ramsey emerged from a spirited battle in August to become the IU starter. While there is some grumbling among the masses, most Hoosier fans are firmly behind the job that Ramsey is doing thus far.
There is no such clarity at Rutgers, and head coach Chris Ash started the week with the proclamation that the starting quarterback job against IU was up in the air. It only took a few days to clear things up, as Ash announced on Thursday that true freshman Art Sitkowski would continue to start.
Josh Newman of the Asbury Park Press had this quote from Ash:
“Art’s been our starting quarterback,” Ash said. “We’ve never wavered from that, but we always will evaluate every position when we’re not having success. We’ve done that, and Art’s still our quarterback.”
Sitkowski is 39 for 80 for 329 yards, with one touchdown and seven interceptions on the season. The Rutgers backup will be a familiar name for IU fans. Giovanni Rescigno has gone 24 for 48 for 233 yards with no touchdowns and an interception this year. He was benched in last year’s blowout win by Indiana. He also started and played fairly well in the 2016 matchup.
A BREAK FOR THE HOOSIER OFFENSIVE LINE?
It was a near consensus view that the Indiana offensive line had a bad game against Michigan State. Tom Allen said it, offensive line coach Darren Hiller said it, even Don Fischer said it.
Michigan State’s front seven might just be the best IU will face all year. Indiana’s offensive line is much better than how they played last week, and they will have a chance to show it against what might just be the worst front seven they will face all year.
NJ.com documented Rutgers’ defensive struggles, and lamented the matchup against the Hoosier line:
“Indiana is tied for 33rd nationally in fewest sacks allowed. It looks like another tough matchup for a Scarlet Knights pass rush that hasn’t had a sack in two weeks and will likely be without jack defensive end Elorm Lumor due to injury.”
Ramsey should have plenty of time to read through his progressions. He might even take a vertical shot or two which could perhaps silent the grumbling few.
FAN APATHY AND A COACH ON THE HOT SEAT
Let’s face it — Rutgers is a hot mess. The only thing that might be worse than losing to what was regarded as the worst power five team in the country (Kansas, and more on that below), would be getting blown out at home against a MAC school. Check.
Assuming that Indiana can win on Saturday, Hoosier fans should just grateful — because we’ve been there.
For now, the situation should benefit IU as a raucous home crowd is not expected. The Asbury Park Press had this observation on the Rutgers crowd against Buffalo this past weekend.
“The question now becomes, how much worse can things get? Based on the lack of booing during the Buffalo game, apathy has already set in. An announced attendance of 34,574 represented paying customers, not customers present. One liberal press box estimate at kickoff had the crowd at approximately 10,000.”
With a noon kickoff, tickets going for as little as $8 the last time we checked, and a significant east coast IU alum base, Saturday’s contest could feel more like a neutral site high school game than anything resembling Big Ten football. Indiana only plays five road games this year, and two of them (FIU and Rutgers) are far from tough road environments.
Indiana needs to win on Saturday to stay out of this mess. It’s no surprise that Rutgers is there, but we’re glad that ESPN has the good sense to have Purdue (or Pur-don’t if you will) in their bottom ten as well. Heck, with a loss to Nebraska on Saturday, the Boilers should have the rightful claim to No. 1 on this list. They’ve always wanted to be No. 1 at something, and here’s their big chance. Pur-don’t blow it.
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