Oct 1, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA;  Rutgers Scarlet Knights quarterback Evan Simon (3) runs with the ball as Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Taron Vincent (6) closes in for the tackle during the second quarter at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers’ underwhelming offense meets Nebraska’s last-place defense

The Big Ten Conference slate begins a day earlier this week when Nebraska visits Rutgers on Friday night in Piscataway, N.J.

The visiting Cornhuskers (2-3, 1-1) have won all five meetings in the series, most recently a Dec. 18, 2020, victory on the road. That was the last time Nebraska won a game outside of Lincoln, dropping six straight away from home since then.

Nebraska is coming off a 35-21 home win over Indiana, snapping a nine-game skid against FBS opponents. It marked the first victory for interim coach Mickey Joseph, who took over after Scott Frost was fired three games into the season.

“Indiana was one game,” Joseph said. “The sign of a good team is who can move forward and get to the next one.”

Rutgers (3-2, 0-2) has had a rough start to conference play after going unbeaten before Big Ten competition. On Saturday, the Scarlet Knights fell 49-10 at Ohio State after losing 27-10 at home to Iowa the week before.

The Knights have scored only 58 points in four games against FBS competition and are second-worst in the Big Ten in total offense (1,656 yards).

“Some of it’s coaching, some of it’s playing, some of it’s execution,” Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. “We’re working on it, though. We’re going to be OK.”

Nebraska, which is last in the Big Ten in scoring defense (32.6 points per game) and total defense (2,346 yards), held Indiana to 290 yards last week in the first game since Bill Busch took over as defensive coordinator. Rutgers had only 187 yards of offense at Ohio State and is averaging just 267.8 against FBS competition.

Rutgers quarterback Evan Simon is last in the Big Ten in passing yardage at 640 yards, while Nebraska’s Casey Thompson is a respectable sixth place with 1,265 yards, just behind Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, a Heisman Trophy favorite.

Despite its early-season woes, Nebraska would take sole possession of the Big Ten’s West Division for one night with a victory. The Cornhuskers are currently in a six-way tie for the top spot with its 1-1 conference record. The seventh team, Wisconsin, is 0-2 in league action.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2022; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights quarterback Evan Simon (3) throws against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa’s defense smothers Rutgers, 27-10

Iowa relied on two defensive touchdowns in the first half to take down host Rutgers 27-10 on Saturday night in Piscataway, N.J.

Cooper DeJean returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and Kaevon Merriweather added a 30-yard fumble return in the second to give the Hawkeyes (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) an early advantage. Merriweather added a pick in the third quarter.

Leshon Williams took 11 carries for 64 yards and touchdown for Iowa. Spencer Petras completed 11 of 17 passes for 148 yards.

For Rutgers (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten), Evan Simon — who entered the game with 411 career passing yards — threw for 300 yards on 28-of-49 passing with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Rutgers drove 66 yards in 12 plays on the game’s opening drive, topped off by Jude McAtamney’s 28-yard field goal.

But on the Scarlet Knights’ second possession, Simon was hit as he threw a deep ball that DeJean caught over his shoulder, marking his third straight game with an interception. He crossed the field and made multiple tacklers miss on his touchdown return with 5:26 left in the first quarter.

Iowa punter Tory Taylor pinned Rutgers at its own 7 during the second quarter. On third-and-5 from the 12, Simon connected with Joshua Youngblood on the run for what would have been a first down. Iowa defensive back Sebastian Castro drilled the ball loose, and Merriweather picked it up and ran down the sideline for a touchdown.

Iowa led 14-3 despite gaining just 53 yards of offense on its first three possessions. The Hawkeyes added an 87-yard drive that resulted in a 25-yard field goal by Drew Stevens 21 seconds before halftime.

The Hawkeyes marched down the field to open the second half, and one play after Rutgers’ Christian Braswell committed pass interference on third-and-goal, Williams scored from 2 yards out for a 24-3 lead.

The Scarlet Knights had a 16-play, 82-yard drive peter out on downs at the Iowa 7-yard line. But after they forced a punt, Aron Cruickshank caught an 18-yard touchdown while falling on his back to cut it to 24-10 with 11:15 to play.

Stevens’ field goal attempt from 51 yards hit the inside of the left upright and fell through, giving Iowa a 17-point cushion with 6:08 left.

–Field Level Media

Aug 6, 2022; Canton, OH, USA; Kurt Warner arrives on the red carpet during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022 Enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: QB E.J. Warner, Kurt’s son, to start for Temple

Temple freshman quarterback E.J. Warner, the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame member Kurt Warner, will make his first collegiate start on Saturday against Rutgers in Philadelphia, ESPN reported.

Warner replaced ineffective starter D’Wan Mathis in the second quarter last week and led the Owls to a 30-14 win over Lafayette. He was 14-of-19 passing for 173 years and two touchdowns.

Warner, who was lightly recruited out of Brophy Prep in Phoenix, entered the season behind Mathis and Quincy Patterson, who played at Virginia Tech and North Dakota State, on the depth chart.

Mathis is 14-of-29 passing for 125 yards in the first two games for Temple (1-1). Patterson has thrown for 31 yards on 3-of-8 passing.

Rutgers is 2-0 on the season.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Rashad Rochelle (18) runs with the ball against the Wagner Seahawks during the second half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers rolls to convincing win over Wagner

Rutgers scored on all four first-quarter possessions Saturday afternoon as the host Scarlet Knights rolled to a 66-7 victory over Wagner in Piscataway, N.J.

Rutgers finished with 585 yards of total offense, including 323 on the ground, while improving to 2-0 for the second straight season.

Samuel Brown V rushed 12 times for 66 yards and two touchdowns. Al-Shadee Salaam rushed eight times for a team-high 69 yards and a touchdown while Kyle Monangai collected 58 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Rashad Rochelle added 11 carries for 36 yards and a touchdown.

As was the case in a season-opening win over Boston College on Sept. 3, Rutgers utilized three quarterbacks. Evan Simon was 10-of-13 passing for 156 yards and two touchdowns while Gavin Wimsatt and Johnny Langan each threw a touchdown.

The 66 points were the most for Rutgers since a 68-6 win over Colgate on Sept. 3, 1993 while the margin of victory was the Scarlet Knights’ largest since a 65-0 victory over Morgan State on Sept. 16, 2017.

Quarterback Nick Kargman was 12-of-23 passing for 92 yards and a touchdown pass to Jayvin Little for FCS member Wagner (0-2), which lost its 22nd straight game dating back to the 2019 season.

Christian Davis had an interception on defense for the Seahawks.

Wagner received the opening kickoff and drove beyond midfield before Kargman’s fourth-down pass from the Rutgers 38-yard-line fell incomplete. The Scarlet Knights ran the ball on every play of the subsequent 11-play drive, which Monangai capped with a 2-yard touchdown.

Wagner went three-and-out on its next three possessions. The Scarlet Knights answered with a touchdown pass each time — one apiece from Simon (40 yards to Aron Cruickshank) Wimsatt (41 yards to Chris Long) and Langan (43 yards to Isaiah Washington as time expired).

Kargman opened the second by directing Wagner on its lone touchdown drive, which ended with his 8-yard pass to Little. Jude McAtamney booted a 49-yard field goal with 4:31 left and Simon tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Langan — listed as a tight end — to put Rutgers up 38-7 at the half.

Salaam’s 25-yard touchdown run and Brown’s 2-yard scoring plunge capped consecutive third-quarter drives for Rutgers. Rochelle and Samuel scored on back-to-back drives in the fourth.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights tight end Johnny Langan (21) runs the ball during the second half against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers using quarterback-by-committee approach vs. Wagner

No starting quarterback last week for Rutgers? No problem.

Rutgers will look to win a second consecutive game to open the season Saturday afternoon, when the Scarlet Knights are scheduled to host Wagner in Piscataway, N.J.

The Scarlet Knights overcame their own quarterback uncertainty and a nine-point second half deficit last Saturday to stun host Boston College, 22-21. Wagner, a Football Championship Subdivision squad, fell to visiting Fordham, 48-31, in an FCS duel last Thursday.

With projected starting signal-caller Noah Vedral out with an upper body injury, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano mixed and matched at quarterback — where three different players took snaps on the opening drive — and relied on the running game to mount the comeback against Boston College.

Evan Simon, Gavin Wimsatt and Aron Cruickshank combined to go 13-of-22 for 110 yards and no touchdowns. Another player who lined up at quarterback, converted tight end Johnny Langan, didn’t attempt a pass.

“I wish I could say to you that it’s all planned with this many plays for this guy, but I don’t usually do that,” Schiano said. “We have a plan to start the game, but you never know. Every game is its own story.”

The Scarlet Knights rushed for 212 yards, including all 96 yards on the game-winning fourth-quarter touchdown drive. Al-Shadee Salaam capped the march with consecutive rushes of 23 and 22 yards to give Rutgers its only lead of the game.

The Scarlet Knights are looking to open 2-0 for the second straight season. They started last year 3-0 before finishing the regular season at 5-7 and eventually accepting an invitation to the Gator Bowl against Wake Forest as a last-minute replacement for Texas A&M.

Wagner, which plays in the Northeast Conference, enters Saturday on a 21-game losing streak. The Seahawks’ most recent win was a 24-14 victory over Long Island University on Sept. 28, 2019.

Wagner head coach Tom Masella has been optimistic since training camp began with 144 players. The Seahawks, who lost three games by 10 points or fewer last season, led Fordham 28-20 midway through the third quarter before the Rams scored 28 unanswered points.

“All these things are a positive compared to where we were a year ago,” Masella told the Staten Island Advance in late August. “It doesn’t get bad overnight and you don’t rebuild it overnight.”

Wagner was picked to finish tied for sixth with Long Island in the eight-team Northeast Conference.

Though the schools are located fewer than 30 miles apart and have both been playing football continuously since Wagner — located on Staten Island — began playing the sport in 1927, Saturday’s game marks the first between the programs.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles receiver Zay Flowers (4) scores a touchdown during the first half against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers makes late push to stun Boston College

Al-Shadee Salaam’s 22-yard touchdown run with 2:43 remaining lifted Rutgers to a 22-21 season-opening victory Saturday over host Boston College at Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Rutgers shared its quarterback load with Evan Simon going 8 of 12, for 63 yards and Gavin Wimsatt going 5 of 9 for 47 yards as the Scarlet Knights overcame the absence of QB Noah Vedral, who has an undisclosed injury.

Nine receivers made catches and six backs had carries for Rutgers, which earned its first head-to-head win over Boston College since 1991. Kyle Monangai (78 yards) also had a rushing touchdown.

BC’s Zay Flowers caught a pair of first-half touchdown passes from Phil Jurkovec, who was 23 of 41 for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Flowers had 141 yards of offense, 125 receiving.

Notre Dame transfer George Takacs logged 84 yards on seven receptions for the Eagles.

While forcing Rutgers to go thee-and-out on back-to-back series, BC found the end zone four plays into its second drive to take a 7-0 lead. Jurkovec found a familiar target for his first touchdown pass of the season as Flowers scored from 11 yards.

The Scarlet Knights responded after Christian Braswell intercepted a Jurkovec pass and turned it into six points on Aron Cruickshank’s 26-yard run on the third play of the second quarter. Jude McAtamney’s PAT hit the left upright to keep BC ahead 7-6.

Jurkovec and Flowers connected for another BC score with 5:22 left in the first half. The two-time All-ACC receiver had a 26-yard catch and run to cap a 10-play, 79-yard drive.

Flowers caught six passes for 88 of the Eagles’ 202 first-half yards.

After Wesley Bailey recovered a fumbled snap by Jurkovec at BC’s 6-yard line, Monangai scored on a 1-yard run 1:57 into the third quarter. A conversion attempt failed.

The Eagles widened their lead with 8:33 left in the third when Jurkovec found Jaden Williams for an 11-yard touchdown reception.

McAtamney’s 33-yard field goal brought Rutgers within a 21-15 entering the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA;  Boston College Eagles quarterback Phil Jurkovec (5) looks for an open receiver during the second half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Jurkovec looks to return to form as BC hosts Rutgers

Excitement is in the air as Boston College hosts Rutgers for Saturday’s season opener in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

The Eagles are the only team in the ACC returning a quarterback with 3,000 career passing yards (Phil Jurkovec), a running back with 1,000 rushing yards (Pat Garwo) and a receiver with 1,000 receiving yards (Zay Flowers).

Jurkovec missed seven games last season due to a freak hand injury. He ended the year with just 914 passing yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions but the redshirt senior is still considered to be one of the top signal-callers available in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Third-year head coach Jeff Hafley’s club is excited to take on the first challenge.

“With a Big Ten team and a really hard road game (at Virginia Tech) to start the season, I think you (saw) a little more sense of urgency from everyone,” Hafley said of the later stages of training camp.

Despite its explosive returning players, there is a new look to BC’s offense with coordinator John McNulty and offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo in their first seasons.

BC was ranked 28th nationally in total defense in 2021 and returns its top four tacklers from last year’s 6-6 team.

Meanwhile, Rutgers has not named a starting quarterback. Senior Noah Vedral’s 1,823 passing yards last year were the most by a Scarlet Knight since 2015.

“I think they all had good training camps,” Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to win. I don’t know how many (quarterbacks) you’ll see.”

Rutgers started 3-0 before finishing 5-8 last year.

The two sides are well-connected despite being separated as Big East rivals in 2004.

Hafley coached under Schiano at Rutgers in 2011 before the two worked together with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the following two years.

Three of Hafley’s assistants also spent time at Rutgers.

“There’s a lot of good friends on that sideline,” Schiano said. “I’m really proud of Jeff. I knew Jeff would be a head coach. … It will be a little strange because I care about those guys, but when you’re playing in a game, you’re competing and trying to win.”

“I’m sure (seeing Schiano before the game) will be a little emotional for me,” Hafley said, “but then we’ll put the headsets on, it’s time to play. I can’t say enough about him.”

The Eagles have won 11 straight games in a series that hasn’t been contested in Massachusetts since 2004.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange wide receiver Taj Harris (3) runs from North Carolina State Wolfpack defensive back Joshua Pierre-Louis (19) after making a catch in the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Syracuse WR Taj Harris transferring to Rutgers

Former Syracuse wide receiver Taj Harris announced Friday he is transferring to Rutgers.

The New Jersey native posted his commitment to the Scarlet Knights on Twitter: “Jersey I’m home.”

Harris entered the transfer portal in early October after catching 16 passes for 171 yards through three games in 2021.

He set Syracuse freshman records for receptions (40) and receiving yards (565) in 2018 and earned All-ACC third-team honors in 2020.

Harris finished his four-year Orange career with 151 catches for 2,028 yards and 10 touchdowns in 37 games. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

–Field Level Media

Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) is pressured in the pocket during the second quarter Friday, Dec. 31, 2021 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights faced each other in the 2021 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

No. 17 Wake Forest pulls away from Rutgers in 38-10 Gator Bowl win

Sam Hartman passed for 304 yards and three touchdowns as No. 17 Wake Forest dominated the final two and a half quarters on the way to an easy 38-10 win over Rutgers on Friday afternoon in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.

The victory allowed the Demon Deacons (11-3) to match their most wins in a single season, last achieved in 2006.

Ten of Hartman’s passes were caught by A.T. Perry for 127 yards. The Demon Deacons outgained Rutgers 452 to 271 yards and outrushed the Scarlet Knights 148 to 106.

Noah Vedral led Rutgers (5-8) with 87 yards passing before being replaced at quarterback by Gavin Wimsatt. Five players threw passes for the Scarlet Knights in the loss.

Wake Forest was set to play No. 25 Texas A&M in the bowl game, but the Aggies pulled out of the contest on Dec. 22 because a combination of season-ending injuries and COVID-19 within the program. Rutgers was chosen to fill the vacancy because it had the highest academic progress rate score among the nation’s teams with 5-7 records.

The Scarlet Knights are the bowl team that entered the postseason with a losing record.

The Demon Deacons took the opening kickoff and drove 84 yards in nine plays, culminating with Hartman’s 4-yard TD pass to Brandon Chapman. Rutgers responded on its initial possession and tied the score on Aaron Young’s 12-yard scoring run at the 5:11 mark of the first quarter.

Hartman immediately marched Wake Forest back into the lead, hitting Perry for a 29-yard catch-and-run touchdown. The Scarlet Knights cut their deficit to 14-10 via Valentino Ambrosio’s 28-yard field goal three minutes into the second quarter.

Nick Sciba added to the Demon Deacons’ lead with field goals from 37 and 29 yards — the latter on the final snap of the first half — and then a 23-yarder with 6:37 to play in the third quarter.

Hartman found Chapman again with a 1-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter. Justice Ellison then capped the scoring with a 27-yard touchdown run with 4:15 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA; DWake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) looks to pass as Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Habakkuk Baldonado (87) pressures in the second quarter of the ACC championship game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 17 Wake Forest ready for anything from Rutgers in Gator Bowl

No. 17 Wake Forest will have a decided advantage in preparation time when it hosts Rutgers in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl on Friday in Jacksonville. But that doesn’t mean the Demon Deacons can take for granted the Scarlet Knights, who enter the postseason as the only team in the 42 bowls with a losing record.

Wake Forest was expecting to play No. 23 Texas A&M in the bowl game, but the Aggies pulled out of the contest on Dec. 22 because of a combination of season-ending injuries and COVID within the program. So, Gator Bowl officials chose Rutgers, which had the highest APR score among the nation’s teams with 5-7 records, to fill the spot on relatively short notice.

The Demon Deacons (10-3) head to the bowl game on the heels of a 45-21 loss to Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game in Charlotte and have dropped three of their past five games after beginning the season 8-0.

Six of Wake Forest’s wins this season – and all three of its losses – came against teams that are playing in bowl games. Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson, who garnered ACC Coach of the Year honors for his work this season, knew he had the makings of a great team.

“I just really felt this year we had a chance to not just be good, but to be really good,” Clawson said. “I saw it after going through COVID last year with some of the leadership I saw emerge, some of the progress the younger players made, and the way we executed during spring practice.”

The Demon Deacons were second in the ACC with 41.2 points scored per game and in touchdowns (68). The high-powered Demon Deacon offense was spearheaded by its passing attack, led by redshirt sophomore dual-threat quarterback Sam Hartman.

Hartman threw for 36 touchdowns, a 58.8 completion percentage and an efficiency rating of 148.5. He also had 11 rushing touchdowns and was selected second team All-ACC.

Wake Forest is making its program record sixth-straight bowl trip, the third-longest active bowl streak in the ACC and its 16th all-time bowl appearance overall. It will be the second time the Demon Deacons have played in the Gator Bowl, having participated in the inaugural game in 1946.

The Scarlet Knights haven’t played since losing to Maryland 40-16 at home on Nov. 27, their third defeat in their final four games, all by at least 24 points. They didn’t defeat a bowl-eligible team this year and lost to one squad that didn’t qualify for a bowl game.

Rutgers is ranked 113th in the nation in points per game (20.3), 114th in passing yards per game (172.8) and 86th in rushing (141 per contest). The Scarlet Knights’ defense is better, allowing 24.6 points per game, (51st) in the country, 162.7 rushing yards (85th) and 229.2 passing yards (66th).

Most of Rutgers’ players had gone home for the holidays before A&M pulled out of the Gator Bowl and the rumors began to swirl about the Scarlet Knights status as the first go-to replacement. Rutgers coach Greg Schiano and his staff began preparations for facing Wake Forest right after the Aggies decided not to play so they were ready to go when Rutgers had its first bowl practice on Dec. 26.

“With the time we have, we’re not going to try to reinvent the wheel,” Schiano explained. “We’re going to go out and play with great energy and great excitement and see where the chips fall. Our guys will play with great effort and when you do that, you give yourself a chance.”

The Gator Bowl will be, by far, the highest-profile bowl game in which Rutgers has ever competed.

Even in 2006, when the Scarlet Knights were ranked No.13 in the nation after the last game of its regular season, Rutgers was still slotted into the Texas Bowl against unranked Kansas State. The Scarlet Knights went on to win that game, finishing the season at 12-2 and ranked 12th by the Associated Press.

-Field Level Media