There are some Big Ten teams Hawkeye fans feel like they know inside and out. Rutgers is not one of them. The Hawkeyes and Scarlet Knights have only faced off three times in the history of the two schools and thus familiarity is perhaps as low as with any other team in the conference.
In the words of the wise and sage like Big Tom Callahan, you can get a good look at a t-bone by sticking your head up a bull’s rear end, but wouldn’t you rather take the butcher’s word for it?
So just like every other week, we’re taking the butcher’s word for it and getting the inside details on Rutgers from our friends over at On The Banks. We were joined this week by Greg Patuto to talk about this weekend’s matchup.
Here’s a look at our conversation.
BHGP: This Rutgers offense is averaging nearly 35 points per game through the first three weeks of the season, how have they been so successful and what should Hawkeye fans expect to see from the Scarlet Knights stylistically on Saturday evening?
OTB: Rutgers took care of Wagner the way it was supposed to, putting up 66 points. The offense is coming off a poor performance against Temple with just 16 points and the lone touchdown coming defensively. What Rutgers did well was run the football. It totaled 142 yards against the Owls and this has been the bright spot thus far. It has taken some pressure off the quarterbacks (which we will get into below).
The Scarlet Knights have depth in the backfield, which was a question mark coming into the year. Kyle Monangai has been a rock-solid option, more of a polished back while Al-Shadee Salaam brings speed and explosiveness. Samuel Brown V is also beginning to get involved in the offense.
This is how Rutgers will have to be successful against that elite Iowa defense as well. It is important to maintain drives and take care of the football.
BHGP: Greg Schiano has utilized two different QBs in each game this season with Evan Simon seemingly more of a pocket passer and Gavin Wimsatt being more mobile. How do you expect that split to look this week and just how dangerous is Wimsatt with his legs?
OTB: Gavin Wimsatt remains a game-time decision to this point after suffering an injury against Temple. Noah Vedral, who has been the starter at Rutgers for two years, is also a game-time decision. If neither can go, Evan Simon will be the primary starter in this game.
If Wimsatt can go, he will be involved in the offense, primarily using his legs. He has struggled to throw the football but Rutgers has been hesitant to name one starting quarterback. The offense believes it can be successful with both options. Can it? That’s yet to be seen in conference play but ultimately, we have to wait to see who is available for the game.
BHGP: On the other side of the ball, Iowa has struggled mightily on offense this season. That’s a point of frustration for Hawkeye fans and a point of major concern knowing Rutgers is giving up just 14 points per game in 2022. What should we expect to see from this Knights defense in terms of fronts and coverages, and in line with that, how do you expect them to attempt to pressure a QB in Spencer Petras who has really crumbled when forced off script?
OTB: Rutgers has just six sacks in three games so overall, do not expect Spencer Petras to be under a ton of pressure. With that being said, Rutgers is being successful in different ways. The defensive line is deep. Wesley Bailey and Kyonte Hamilton have been strong against the run. Mayan Ahanotu has also been tough.
At the same time, the secondary has been a bright spot returning a lot of experience. Max Melton and Christian Izien lead the way. Now I’ve heard that Petras performs better on the road. It will be interesting to see what gives here. If Petras is on and can score some points, it will be difficult for Rutgers to keep up. If this is a defensive battle, Rutgers can hang around.
BHGP: Ok, it’s Iowa so we’re always going to ask about special teams, it’s especially critical this week with two of not only the best punters in the Big Ten, but the country. What’s your over/under for average punt yardage from Adam Korsak on Saturday and are there any other names Hawkeye fans should know on special teams?
OTB: It’s always exciting to talk some punting. Adam Korsak and Tory Taylor are two of the best around. With struggling offenses, special teams and the punters can be huge in this game in terms of field position. Korsak has been one of the best in the nation over the course of his career.
If I had to put an over/under on yardage, I’d say 40.5 yards per punt. Total yardage around 240.5 yards. That means he would have to punt six times, which has been his average in two games. Rutgers did not punt against Wagner, which was expected. The punters will be on display in this one on both sides.
BHGP: Alright, prediction time. Our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook have Iowa favored by 7.5 with one of the lower over/unders nationally at 35.5 total points. How do you see this one playing out and what’s your final score prediction?
OTB: The total in this game is insane. A college football game in the low 30’s is so uncommon that you have to take the under. The odds always know more than we do. Rutgers is going to struggle to score points. That is why I mentioned the defense and taking care of the football is so important.
In the end, Iowa wins the game. Just too much defensive firepower and the offense makes one more play. The spread is deceiving here. That hook is going to get some people but I still trust Iowa a bit more to this point. Give me a close battle early and Iowa getting a late score to ice the game – Iowa 23, Rutgers 10.
So there you have - the Hawkeyes find some offense somewhere, somehow. Here’s hoping Greg knows what he’s talking about and Iowa can carry some momentum into a showdown with Michigan.