The Northwestern Wildcats (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) host the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-3, 0-3 Big Ten) Saturday morning. The 'Cats will wear purple jerseys and pants with white helmets in their Week 7 contest. Below is everything you need to know to stay up-to-speed on game day.
Northwestern vs. Rutgers
Date: Saturday, October 16, 2021
Time: 11:00 am CT Kickoff
Location: Ryan Field; Evanston, IL
Watch: Big Ten Network
Listen: WGN Radio 720
ESPN Football Power Index: The Scarlet Knights have a 54.3% chance of winning.
Spread: Northwestern +2
How to Bet: Find the latest odds and place your bets on the Wildcats to cover the spread at SISportsbook.
Follow @SIWildcatsDaily on Twitter for live game updates and exclusive content throughout game day.
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There is not as much history as you'd expect between conference opponents, but it makes sense considering Rutgers only joined the Big Ten in 2014. The first game between the two teams came in 1919 when the Scarlet Knights shut out the Wildcats 28-0. After that matchup, Rutgers rattled off two more wins against Northwestern in 1989 and 1991. However, the last time these teams went head-to-head was in 2018, when the Wildcats won a tightly contested game, 18-15. Overall though the Scarlet Knights hold the 3-1 advantage.
Scouting the 3-3 (0-3 Big Ten) Scarlet Knights
It’s been an up and down season so far for Rutgers Football. The Scarlet Knights started the season with three straight wins, two of which were massive blowouts. In Week One they took down Temple 61-14 and in Week Three they hammered Delaware 45-13. They followed those impressive showings by dropping their next three games and they're looking to break the streak against Northwestern. All three of those losses came against teams ranked in the top 25 of the country. The closest loss was their first of the year against Michigan, who they lost to by only a touchdown. The last two losses were not as close. They fell to Ohio State by 39 and then to Michigan State last week by 18 in a game that was not as close as the score would indicate.
Rutgers rank ninth in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game (142.8) and eighth in passing (211.7). The weakest aspect of the Scarlet Knights' defense has been defending the run. They rank third-worst in the Big Ten, allowing 151 rushing yards per game. They’re seventh in the conference against the pass, allowing 212 passing yards per game.
Rutgers are 1.5 point favorites, most likely because they’ve been competing against top competition, which may have them in good form compared to Northwestern. Both teams have been struggling recently, but one of them will take the first step in starting to change their fortunes Saturday.
Players to Watch
Senior QB Noah Vedral - There’s been a common denominator in each of Rutgers’ wins this season: Vedral having a good performance and leading the offense. His best game of the season so far came in a 45-13 win against Delaware in which he went 21/25 and threw for 323 yards and two touchdown passes. On the season he has thrown for 1,112 passing yards and six touchdown passes. If the Scarlet Knights are going to come out on top, Ventral will have to be a major factor.
Senior WR Bo Melton - Melton has missed the past few games due to injury, but when he was healthy, he was Rutgers’ number one wideout target. His most receiving yards in one game this season is 125, which he accumulated against Delaware on only six receptions. On the season, he currently has a team-high 253 receiving yards in only four games played. Melton is currently listed as questionable for Saturday’s game with a shoulder injury.The Bobcats are looking for their first win of the season, after stumbling out of the gate, 0-3.The Wildcats will look to capture their second win of the season before heading into conference play next weekend in Lincoln.
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