Rutgers hopes that an encouraging display in its season opener translates into Week 2 success when it hosts Eastern Michigan on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights were outscored 175-0 in three games against Top 10 opponents last season, but held their own in the first half before falling 30-14 to seventh-ranked Washington, and looks to keep improving under second-year coach Chris Ash by beating the Eagles for the second time in four years - following a 28-10 win in 2013.
“We did a lot of good things and made some mistakes in critical situations but I like the direction of this team going forward,” Ash told reporters. “We need to keep developing and improving and working hard and staying focused on us and what we do.” Rutgers has dropped 10 straight games dating back to last season, including four contests by 39 points or more, and seeks its first win at home since beating New Mexico 37-28 on Sept. 17, 2016. The Scarlet Knights boast a 12-3-1 record against teams in the Mid-American Conference and search for their first win against a MAC opponent as a member of the Big Ten. Eastern Michigan began the season with a 24-7 victory against Charlotte, but has struggled mightily against Big Ten foes while dropping all 38 of their previous meetings.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Rutgers -5
ABOUT EASTERN MICHIGAN (1-0): Senior quarterback Brogan Roback completed passes to 10 different receivers en route to 267 yards in the win against Charlotte. “We think we have some solid depth at wide receiver,” Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton told reporters. “Brogan is at his best when he’s taking what people are giving him and going through his reads.” Ian Eriksen was named the MAC West Division Player of the Week after rushing for two touchdowns against the 49ers and Shaq Vann added 90 yards in his first game back from a shoulder injury, which cost him the bulk of the 2016 season.
ABOUT RUTGERS (0-1): Kyle Bolin, who spent three seasons at Louisville, threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns, but tossed two interceptions against Washington in his first start for the Scarlet Knights. Janarion Grant caught a touchdown pass in his first game after suffering a season-ending leg injury in Week 4 last season and Dacoven Bailey added the first TD catch of his collegiate career against the Huskies. Jerome Washington led the way with six catches for 36 yards, which is the most receptions by a tight end since Tyler Kroft had eight in a win over Maryland in 2014.
1. Rutgers is 4-11 at home since the start of the 2015 season.
2. The Scarlet Knights are 10-3 in their last 13 games against non-conference foes.
3. Eastern Michigan is 0-58 against Power Five opponents.
PREDICTION: Rutgers 31, Eastern Michigan 24