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How big of a favorite is Rutgers against Northwestern?



Photo credit Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 is finally here for Rutgers football. The 2023 season kicks off on Sunday, September 3 at noon at SHI Stadium. The game will air on CBS and will be the only contest airing nationally in that time slot. It’s a showcase opportunity for the program. And in a Big Ten game, RU is the favorite.

According to Vegas Insider, Rutgers is currently listed as a 6.5 point favorite by multiple betting sites. The over/under is set at 40.5 points.

The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 4-8 campaign and return the third most production in the Big Ten. That stat is a bit misleading, but regardless this is a game that the Scarlet Knights should be favored.

Northwestern was 1-11 last season and will come to Piscataway after finishing a preseason mired in turmoil. Program legend and long time head coach Pat Fitzgerald was fired last month amidst a hazing scandal that has rocked the school. They’ll be lead by interim head coach David Braun and he’ll be helped by special assistant Skip Holtz, who has been a head coach at multiple stops.

It’s a game that Rutgers must win to have any hope of making a run to a bowl game. There are plenty of questions with this team and none more than around the offense. Even so, it’s the defense that will likely need to carry the load on Sunday to earn the win. Limiting the Wildcats through the air is a must.

While Northwestern hasn’t named a starting quarterback, it’s likely going to be Cincinnati transfer Ben Bryant under center. He threw for 2,731 yards, 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions, while completing 61.2% of his passes in 2022. Bryant suffered a season-ending foot injury after 11 starts in which he led Cincy to a 9-2 record and national ranking.

The Northwestern offense was bad last season, but still better than Rutgers was. Now both teams will likely be featuring new faces on Sunday.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if Rutgers covers the spread or not. It doesn’t have to be pretty or fun. Just win. The alternative would be a disastrous way to start the season. It’s a great opportunity to start the season not only on a positive note, but with a Big Ten victory and in front of a national television audience, no less. Six days until Sunday.

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  1. Henry Rutgers

    August 28, 2023 at 10:35 am

    The Cincy transfer is a little unsettling but I’m sure our defense is up to the task, our DCON has a plan to contain and pressure him. The simple truth is nothing is easy in this conference, everyone is upping their game and regardless of what Las Vegas says the game is going to be an exciting nail biter.

    I was unaware that NU had retained Skip Holtz as a special assistant. He’s blessed with football in his genes and has shown a way to win during many of his previous stops. It all adds to the intrigue. I can’t wait.

  2. thevinman

    August 28, 2023 at 11:57 am

    Wow, 6 1/2 point favorites. That seems high.

  3. BataliBoli98

    August 28, 2023 at 10:29 pm

    The 40.5 jumps out to me as much as the -6.5. RU may break an NCAA record for rushing attempts in a game that didn’t involve gale force winds. I think GS plays this one VERY safe because he knows that Aaron is correct about this being a must win game. I am sure that we all trust the RU ground attack more than trying to move the ball through the air. I’m not saying that Gavin can’t generate a big play or two with his arm, but it seems more likely in week one that the big play comes from his legs. Regardless, like HENRYRU, I can’t wait. Go RU!

    • Aaron Breitman

      August 29, 2023 at 9:27 pm

      Yes last season RU averaged 13 points and Northwestern 10. The over/under does feel high.

  4. pj43

    August 29, 2023 at 4:03 pm

    I have Rutgers by 14, winning 24-10 as everything looks hunky-dory against a hurting Northwestern team. Look for the defense to create turnovers and give the offense good field position as Ciarrocca goes to a two TE offense & runs it down the Wildcats’ throats. Wimsatt looks efficient and Brown looks like a stud RB. That’s how I dreamed it last night, anyway.

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