Rutgers enters the last week of September with a 3-1 record and 1-1 in Big Ten play. They’re exactly where they need to be in order to accomplish the most important goal this season: win six games and earn a bowl bid.
What is becoming more clear four weeks into the season is that the conference is full of parody. The Big Ten West is not very strong. Michigan State and Indiana are trending down in the East.
And across Big Ten fan bases and media, the perception of Rutgers is improving. Several sites covering the league have Rutgers as No. 6 or No. 7 in their respective power rankings after this weekend.
None of this matters on the field. But the big picture reality is that the league is only going to get much more difficult beginning in 2024. This week, six teams slated to be in the Big Ten next season are ranked in the top nine of the AP Poll. USC, Oregon and Washington are all 4-0 and will significantly increase the level of competition when they arrive next fall. In addition, UCLA just fell out of the top 25 after a loss to a ranked Utah team this past weekend.
With the Big Ten wide open this season aside from a top three of Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, all ranked in the top six, there is major opportunity for Rutgers to have a breakthrough season.
After a strong 3-0 start in which Rutgers dominated its opponents, they have four winnable games in their next five games: At Wisconsin, Michigan State, at Indiana and at Iowa. NONE of these will be easy. However, the way RU has played so far, there should be hope that they can win at least two of these matchups. With Wagner visiting this weekend, Greg Schiano’s team has put themselves in a position that they must take advantage of.
Building momentum for the program in the long term and heading into a even more competitive league in 2024 makes the next month plus vital to future of Rutgers football. The time is now for taking a tangible step forward up the Big Ten ladder.
These topics are discussed and more on the latest episode of The Scarlet Faithful podcast. Listen and watch below.
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