PISCATAWAY − When Rutgers’ season comes to an end, tonight’s game against Nebraska will go a long way toward determining how the entire campaign is remembered.
The Scarlet Knights have a major opportunity ahead of them: Win and move one game closer to bowl eligibility with more winnable games ahead, or lose and have any postseason hopes potentially on life support.
If Greg Schiano’s team wins tonight, a path to a bowl certainly exists based on what we know about Rutgers’ remaining opponents.
A lot is working toward Rutgers’ favor − primetime “blackout” game at home, in front of what should be a packed crowd. But even though the Cornhuskers are struggling and have already fired their coach and defensive coordinator, they still have potential to be dangerous.
Plus, Rutgers is banged up.
It’s going to take a clean, consistent, all-around solid performance from the Scarlet Knights to pull of a win that not only would inject more life into their season, but would be their first home Big Ten win since 2017.
Can they get it done? We’ll find out in a few hours.
Some injury news and updates:
- Noah Vedral is expected to start at quarterback while Evan Simon is expected to get snaps, also.
- Cornerback Robert Longerbeam and tight end Victor Konopka are both OUT.
- Gavin Wimsatt is unlikely to play.
Brutal loss for the Scarlet Knights.
Fourth quarter, 8:54: Nebraska takes the lead
Remove a turn of events here in Piscataway.
On second-and-17 from the Rutgers 35, Evan Simon was intercepted by Myles Farmer at the 44 and returned to the 27. Nebraska needed one play to get into the end zone as Casey Thompson hit Trey Palmer for a 27-yard scoring pass .
The Cornhuskers have a 14-13 lead with 8:54 to go.
Third quarter, 10:35: Nebraska is on the board
Casey Thompson, back in the game after taking a hard hit late in the first half, throws a 7-yard touchdown pass to Travis Vokolek for the Cornhuskers’ first touchdown of the game.
That closes Rutgers’ lead to 13-7.
Halftime: Rutgers 13, Nebraska 0
The Scarlet Knights were outstanding defensively. Completely shut down the Cornhuskers’ offense, intercepted Casey Thompson twice (one by Melton, one by Braswell).
And while Rutgers has looked better offensively, it still hasn’t done enough to capitalize on enough of the opportunities the defense created.
Melton also made a big play on special teams, blocking a punt that led to a field goal.
Still, Rutgers had chances for more. It couldn’t capitalize.
Vedral went 3-of-10 for 110 yards. He didn’t play that last drive. Evan Simon came in and was 5-of-8 for 81 yards.
Second quarter, 6:30: Rutgers adds to lead
Rutgers has expanded its lead to 13-10, but it nearly had more.
Vedral hit Shameen Jones on a pass, and Jones broke several tackles on a 43-yard reception to get to the Nebraska 22. Sam Brown then went 21 yards to the 1, but the play was called back because a holding call on Matt Alaimo.
Rutgers ultimately couldn’t get into the end zone and had to settle for a 40-yard field goal from Jude McAtamney.
First quarter, 2:29: Big special teams play from Rutgers leads to FG
Max Melton blocked a Nebraska punt and Parker Day recovered for Rutgers. That gave the Scarlet Knights first-and-goal at the 8. After a Johnny Langan one-yard run, a Vedral keeper for a gain of one and an incomplete pass into the end zone, Rutgers was bring on Jude McAtamney to kick a 25 -yard field goal.
It’s 10-0 Rutgers with 2:29 left in the first quarter.
First quarter, 12:22: Noah Vedral scores Rutgers’ first TD
Rutgers is on the board.
Noah Vedral, who started at QB against his former team, runs it in from 21 yards out. He had a nice 33-yard pass to Shameen Jones on the drive to get into Nebraska territory. That’s remarkable since he didn’t attempt a pass in Rutgers’ previous game against Ohio State.
Regardless, the Scarlet Knights are up 7-0 at 12:22 of the first quarter.
Rutgers vs. Nebraska predictions
Chris Iseman, Rutgers beat writer
This is an absolutely huge game for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights need to be more productive offensively. Maybe Nebraska’s porous defense is the perfect opponent at the perfect time. But at this point we haven’t seen enough to know Rutgers can capitalize on that. Until we do, it’s going to be hard to see it scoring enough to win. Admittedly, I’m not all that confident in this pick. But I think the Cornhuskers escape Piscataway with a close win. Nebraska 24, Rutgers 21
Jerry Carino, college sports writer
It will be a tremendous story if quarterback Noah Vedral, a tough guy, great teammate and natural leader who was shamefully written off by nearly the entire Rutgers fan base, returns from injury to jolt a struggling offense to life. Also: It’s kind of funny that Nebraska, with a football program that is a husk of its former self and lousy basketball program, turned out to be the Big Ten charity case that people always accused Rutgers of being. And their corn stinks compared to ours. Rutgers 24, Nebraska 10
Steve Edelson, sports columnist
Rutgers had an incredible opportunity two weeks ago when a struggling Iowa team came to SHI Stadium for a primetime game, in front of a good crowd. You never got the sense Rutgers was going to win that game. They can’t squander another chance against Nebraska. How many times will the fans keep showing up if they keep getting let down. A must-win that likely will define Greg Schiano’s third season. Rutgers 28, Nebraska 24
Bob Jordan, USA TODAY Network Atlantic Region deputy sports director
Nebraska held Rutgers to just one first down in the first half while building a 14-0 lead the first time the Cornhuskers played a game east of Michigan. Yep, 1920 was the year and the Polo Grounds in New York was the site. “Local fans are looking forward to the game this afternoon with a great zest of anticipation,” the New York Times reported the day of the game. Nebraska went on to win 28-0. We can’t say for sure that Rutgers’ offense of today is better than it was 102 years ago – but maybe the Scarlet Knights will find a way? Rutgers 20, Nebraska 17
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism