Rutgers football: What you need to know for UMass 8/30

Raheem Blackshear, Rutgers football. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
Raheem Blackshear, Rutgers football. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) /

It’s opening week for Rutgers football as the Scarlet Knights host UMass. Empire Writes Back has all you need to know.

Empire Writes Back presents, what you need to know in order to enjoy Rutgers football this week when the Scarlet Knights host the University of Massachusetts Minutemen. Whether you are going to SHI Stadium to see the game live, or staying at home and watching on television, we have you covered.

Who: University of Massachusetts Minutemen (0-0) at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (0-0)

Where: SHI Stadium – Piscataway, New Jersey

When: 7:15 p.m. EDT

TV: Big Ten Network

Line: Rutgers -15.5. Over/Under 55 (Odds Shark)

Interesting Trends: The Scarlet Knights have covered five straight games. Additionally, RU has gone under in five of their last six contests. UMass has won three of their last 11 games and two of their previous 18 road games.

Injuries: Rutgers, Out – TE Jonathan Lewis

Last Year

UMass had a miserable season. Playing as an independent, the Minutemen went 4-8. They were one of the worst defensive teams in the FBS, giving up an average of 42.9 points per game (ppg). That was 127th of 130 teams. Their poor play in 2018 led to the dismissal of head coach Mark Whipple.

To say last season was a disappointment for the Rutgers football program isn’t fair to the word disappointment. The Scarlet Knights won their opener over Texas State, then the season went to pot. They didn’t win another game all year and ran their Big 10 losing streak to a dozen games.

The Knights scored 13.5 points ppg, the fewest points in all of the FBS. Their defense gave up 31.4 ppg, which was in the bottom third. Six games were lost by three or more touchdowns. Maybe the most embarrassing defeat was in game three. It was a 55-14 loss to Kansas, the last-place team in the Big-12, who won only three games all year.

This Week

Both teams look to rebound coming off of miserable 2018 campaigns. Rutgers coach Chris Ash said in his Monday press conference that this is a new season and that Scarlet Knights fans should get behind the team.

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At the same presser, he declined to announce a winner in the starting quarterback competition between last year’s number one, sophomore Artur Sitkowski and Texas Tech graduate transfer McLane Carter. Ash said he didn’t want to give away any competitive advantage.

Whoever the QB is, he will have a better compliment of skill players than in previous seasons. UMass will get a steady diet of running backs Isaih Pacheco, and Raheem Blackshear. The defense will be RU’s strength in 2019, anchored by a strong linebacker corps.

This year’s edition of RU is deeper than any team Ash has had in his three seasons leading the team. If the chance presents itself, lots of players will get into the game. New Minutemen head coach Walt Bell will have his work cut out for him.

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The Scarlet Knights will both win and cover this week.