Breaking it down: Norfolk State vs. Rutgers
Who: Norfolk State vs. Rutgers
When: 12 p.m. ET
Where: High Points Solutions Stadium, Rutgers
TV: ESPN News
Matchup to Watch: Deon King vs. Paul James
The Norfolk State linebacker will have the best chance of slowing down the Rutgers running game. King did rack up 18 tackles for loss last year, and could expose an inexperienced Rutgers line. James, Rutgers fans hope, will look like the feature back that flashed serious potential when healthy. It’ll be interesting to see how James can get to the second level after coming off an ACL tear. New offensive coordinator Ben McDaniels likely won’t have James toting the rock 20-plus times against a weaker FCS opponent. Either way, the Scarlet Knights will just be glad to see him back doing what he does.
Thing I’m excited to see: Halftime
There are only a few Rutgers storylines going into this one. Five players were suspended for an assault arrest two days before the opener, Kyle Flood is being investigated for impermissible contact with a university professor, and one of the starting quarterback candidates was suspended for a half for breaking curfew and using a fake ID. Got it all? That means Hayden Rettig “won” the starting job, but Flood wouldn’t guarantee whether or not he’d stick with Rettig or put in the suspended Chris Laviano for the second half. Nothing makes sense for Rutgers right now, and Flood’s halftime decision will only add to the drama that has followed the program off the field.
Number to Remember: 100,000
That’s the amount of dollars that will be up for grabs if Rutgers returns the opening kick for a touchdown. Rutgers is doing a promotion that will offer up a $100,000 prize to be divided among 10 students that are in attendance for the opener. With all the negative energy surrounding the Scarlet Knights, there will be plenty of intrigue for the opening kickoff. For the record, Rutgers returner Janarion Grant has returned a kickoff for a touchdown before. If Rutgers students have it their way, he’ll make it a second on Saturday.
Prediction: Rutgers 42, Norfolk State 7
For all the distractions Rutgers has in Week 1, Norfolk State is still a four-win FCS team. There’s no reason that a team that has been to an FBS bowl nine of the last 10 years should do anything but roll. It wouldn’t completely mask the cloud hovering over the program, but it might be a start.