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Rutgers Football Breakdown: Who Are The Scarlet Knights?

After a long and strenuous #RutgersHateWeek, the day is finally here as the Nittany Lions will try their best to defeat the Rutgers Scarlet Knights tonight at 8 p.m. You know your Penn State football team already, but you probably don’t know much about the squad on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

Here’s a breakdown of the Scarlet Knights football team:

Record: 2-0, beat Washington State 41-38 and beat Howard 38-25.

Last time the programs met: The teams last faced off on September 23, 1995, with the highlight coming not during, but after the game when Joe Paterno cursed at Rutgers head coach Doug Graber at midfield. Graber voiced his displeasure that the Nittany Lions threw deep with less than a minute to go in the game while ahead 52-34. Penn State won 59-34.

What does our staff think? It would be an understatement to say that our staff is optimistic about the game. All writers who wrote predictions for the game have the Nittany Lions walking away victorious by varying margins. In short, our staff thinks that we are going to #ChopRU.

What to watch for: 

Rutgers is REALLY looking forward to this game

As you may or may not have noticed, the Rutgers fan base and team is pretty pumped up for this game. Apparently, the Scarlet Knights’ students and players and even their head coach decided that they dislike Penn State. In fact, head coach Kyle Flood refuses to acknowledge Penn State by name, instead opting for “The Team From Pennsylvania,” which has caught on as tTFP on Rutgers forums.

The idea here is that Rutgers is treating this as a bowl game of sorts, a matchup against a “rival.” While motivation is never an issue for Penn State, it’s important that the team prepare to walk into a hostile environment and avoid allowing the Scarlet Knights to jump ahead early with the crowd roaring behind them.

Gary Nova can be great, but realistically, he’ll probably just throw interceptions

He has the name of a superhero and the quarterback capability of a superzero. When he plays a team like Howard, Nova is unstoppable. He went 15-for-19 last week, totaling 282 yards and four touchdowns as he decimated the Bison.

Zoom out to look at his entire career and you see mediocrity for the senior slinger, who entered this season with 51 touchdowns and 39 interceptions. He completed just 54.5 percent of pass attempts last season with 18 scores and 14 picks.

Against Howard, Nova thrives. Against a solid secondary and a defensive line that can put some pressure, Nova struggles. The latter will likely be the case tonight.

They have a front seven reminiscent of Swiss cheese 

Forgot about the Washington State game and the Cougars’ six rushing yards against Rutgers. The Pac-12 bottom-dweller only ran 14 times and passed 56 times in the game. The Scarlet Knights knew they were playing a pass-first and run-literally-never team. When facing Howard, a team with some semblance of a run game, Rutgers allowed 259 yards. On 43 carries. That’s an average of 6.0 yards per carry. That’s with four different running backs scoring. That’s with long runs of 70 yards, 25 yards, and 20 yards.

The Nittany Lions have had trouble getting the run going this season. Playing a team like Rutgers, with a front seven that can’t handle some big Pennsylvania offensive linemen, is exactly what this unit needs.

They have a weird history of mascots and colors

So, the Scarlet Knights. It’s a Knight wearing scarlet. Or something. Students originally wanted the team’s color to be orange back in 1869, but Rutgers settled on scarlet because it was cheaper to buy. The team was called “The Scarlet” originally, with players wearing turbans and handkerchiefs for some reason.

It switched its name to the Chanticleer in 1925, which is a rooster. They changed it to its current name, the Scarlet Knights, in 1955. Head football coach Harvey Harman said, “You can call it the Chanticller, you can call it a fighting cock, you can call it any damn thing you want, but everybody knows it’s a chicken.”

I think that the Rutgers Fighting Cocks has a ring to it.

About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.


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