Rutgers could not stop the run on the road in getting a taste of Big Ten Conference reality against No. 13 Ohio State and No. 17 Nebraska the past two wees.
Things may only get worse Saturday with Wisconsin coming to Piscataway.
Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1) will bring the nation’s second-leading rusher, Melvin Gordon, to High Point Solutions Stadium when it faces Rutgers (5-3, 1-3) at noon.
Not only are the Scarlet Knights reeling after consecutive blowout losses, there is a chance they may not have senior quarterback Gary Nova, injured his knee last weekend in the loss to Nebraska.
Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said whether Nova plays will be a game-time decision. Redshirt freshman Chris Laviano would get the start if Nova can’t go.
Regardless, Rutgers has to defend the run better — it has allowed 616 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground the past two weeks. Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah ran for 225 last week on 19 carries. Opponents are averaging 178.2 yards against a unit that used to pride itself in stopping the run.
Gordon will be tough to stop. Playing behind a good line, the junior has averaged 198 yards the last five games and has run for 15 TDs.
Wisconsin pounded Maryland, another Big Ten newcomer, 52-7 last weekend. It will face Rutgers and Purdue on the road the next two weeks before ending the season with matchups with Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. The Badgers hope they will be for first place in the conference’s West Division.
Here are some other things to watch Saturday:
– Laviano was 4 of 7 for 49 yard and ran for 54 yards on five carries after Nova hurt his right knee. Wisconsin has been using two quarterbacks. Joel Stave has started the last two, is 15-6 as a starter and is ninth all-time in career passing yards (3,940) at Wisconsin. Junior Tanner McEvoy, a New Jersey product from Bergen Catholic, leads all FBS quarterbacks and ranks second among all players in rushing, averaging 10 yards.
– Wisconsin ranks No. 7 nationally in scoring defense at 16.1 points. In seven games, it has given up 13 touchdowns. Only Ole Miss (8), Stanford (11), Louisville (11), Alabama (12) and Duke (12) had allowed fewer through last weekend. W isconsin has allowed 64 plays of 10-plus yards this season, matching Florida for the lowest FBS.
– Wisconsin’s offensive line has allowed six sacks, tied for the seventh fewest in the FBS. Rutgers is tied for 15th nationally and second in the Big Ten with 24 sacks.
– Rutgers junior receiver Leonte Carroo is 15th nationally and second in the Big Ten with 775 yards receiving. He leads Rutgers in receptions (39), yards receiving (775) and touchdown catches (6). Carroo has four 100-yard games this season and will be looking for his third straight Saturday. . .The Badgers are 11-1-1 in their first games against new Big Ten members.
Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova left Saturday’s loss to Nebraska with a knee injury and did not return. Postgame, head coach Kyle Flood did not know the severity of the injury (Sargeant, Oct. 25).
“I don’t and I don’t even know if we will tomorrow,” Flood said. “I think we’re going to have to wait this one out a couple of days.”
Nova was hobbled on the sideline in the second half, but wore a headset. Nova’s injury came on the final possession of the half, a questionable decision to even try and score considering the drive started deep in Rutgers territory (Politi, Oct. 25h).
Chris Laviano played the second half for Rutgers and passed 4 of 7 for 49 yards.
Result: Nebraska (7-1) rolled over Rutgers (5-3) 42-24 in Lincoln on Saturday afternoon.
Need to Know: Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah rushed for 225 yards and three touchdowns averaging 11.3 yards a carry as Nebraska handed Rutgers its second straight loss. Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova left at the half with a knee injury and didn’t return. Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong passed for 163 yards and threw a pair of touchdown passes for the Scarlet Knights. For Rutgers, Leonte Caroo had 125 yards receiving.
Links: Box score| Recap
Next up: Rutgers hosts Wisconsin on Saturday.
Ameer Abdullah continues to carry the load for Nebraska, which returned from a bye week with a convincing win last weekend.
He could be in for another big game Saturday against a Rutgers team that’s struggled to stop the run when the No. 16 Cornhuskers host the Scarlet Knights Saturday at noon in Lincoln, Neb.
After Abdullah was held to a season-low 45 yards on 24 attempts in a 27-22 loss at then-No. 10 Michigan State Oct. 4, he appeared refreshed after a week off in last Saturday’s 38-17 victory at Northwestern. The senior had 23 carries for 146 yards and scored four one-yard touchdowns, giving him a conference-best 14 rushing TDs.
Abdullah became the first Cornhuskers back to record three 1,000-yard campaigns. He surpassed Ahman Green for second on the school’s all-time rushing list with 4,001 yards and now trails only New Jersey native Mike Rozier (4,780).
“It doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win the rest of these games,” he said.
Nebraska (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) has to like its chances of doing just that if Abdullah keeps it up. The Cornhuskers are 19-3 when he rushes for at least 100 yards. He’s fourth in the country this season in rushing, averaging 146.3 yards a game.
Abdullah appears to have a favorable matchup against Rutgers (5-2, 1-2), which has allowed 201.3 rushing yards a game in its last four. The Scarlet Knights gave up 324 yards on the ground – their most since 2004 – in last Saturday’s 56-17 loss at No. 13 Ohio State.
“We’ve faced some good running backs but I don’t think we’ve seen a back with the full package like Abdullah,” Rutgers defensive end David Milewski said. “He can catch, he can block, he can run. He can do everything you want a back to do. He’s an every down back. It’s a high bar he sets but as a player that’s the kind of challenge you want.”
The Scarlet Knights had won three in a row before getting blown out by the Buckeyes. They were outgained 585-345 in total offense in their first Big Ten road game.
Desmon Peoples was a bright spot with 83 rushing yards and two scores on 15 carries. Gary Nova had 192 yards passing a game after having 404 against Michigan and threw his eighth interception — tied for the most in the conference — while being sacked a season-high four times.
“What I want to see is these guys turn the page,” coach Kyle Flood said. “I want to see guys own their mistakes, understand that we all need to get better, coaches and players alike, and then I want to see guys move forward.”
Doing so won’t be easy in Lincoln, where the Huskers have outscored opponents by an average of 24.0 points in opening 4-0. They have won 16 of their last 17 home games against unranked foes.
“It’s an exciting weekend for us – exciting week for us I should say with a tremendous opponent on Saturday, a tremendous challenge to go on the road to what I think is probably one of the great venues for college football,” Flood said. “Out there at Nebraska they’ve got a tremendous string of sellouts. I’m sure this will be another one and a hostile environment.”
While Rutgers has gone 4-0 in nonconference play behind Nova’s passer rating of 209.2, it’s 121.7 in league action with three TDs and six picks. The Scarlet Knights have dropped seven in a row against ranked opponents, including their last three by an average of 25.3 points.
Result: Ohio State beat Rutgers 56-17 in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday afternoon.
Need to know: J.T. Barrett accounted for five touchdowns as, threw for three with 261 yards, and ran for two more as Ohio State rolled past Rutgers. Ohio State opened up a 14-7 lead with a 21-0 second quarter run to put Rutgers away. Barrett had 107 yards rushing too for Ohio State. For the Scarlet Knights, Gary Nova passed for 192 yards and an interception in the loss. Desmon Peoples had 15 carries for 83 yards. Leonte Caro had 100 yards receiving.
Results: Box | AP Recap
Next up: Rutgers is at Nebraska on Oct. 25.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Rutgers’ first Big Ten football road game will come on one the conference’s biggest stages when No. 13 Ohio State hosts the Scarlet Knights Saturday.
“That’s another monumental game right there,” said Scarlet Knights offensive tackle Keith Lumpkin. “It’s a dream to play in that stadium. Some people might find it nerve-wracking or kind of scary. It’s just 100,000 watching me about to kick their team’s butt, so that’s how I see it.”
Another week, another milestone and another bit of extra incentive for an Ohio State opponent. The Scarlet Knights, in their 145th season, will play before the biggest crowd in the history of the program.
But the Buckeyes have their own incentives. They’re seeking their 18th consecutive Big Ten win, which would put them just two behind the conference record set by Ohio State 2005-07.
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Chris Carlin speaks with Rutgers coach Kyle Flood about Ohio State’s mobile quarterback and the rowdy crowd waiting for them in Columbus.