Breaking it down: Rutgers in for battle against first Power Five foe
Who: Washington State vs. Rutgers
When: 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: High Point Solutions Stadium, Rutgers
Spread: Rutgers -3.5
Matchup to watch: Joe Dahl vs. Kemoko Turay
The Rutgers defensive end burst onto the scene by recording two sacks in his collegiate debut in the opener against Washington State last year. He’s more experienced now, but so is Dahl. Turay is still nursing an upper body injury and won’t be at 100 percent for a potential showdown with an All-Pac 12 candidate. The freakish defensive end is capable of using his quickness to rush quarterback Luke Falk, and when he lines up against Dahl, we’ll see a strength-on-strength matchup. With Darius Hamilton still sidelined, Rutgers needs Turay to hold the upper hand.
Thing I’m excited to see: A full game of Leonte Carroo
Leonte Carroo made his presence felt early and often in his 30 minutes of football in the opener. His first-half suspension didn’t hold him back from hauling in three touchdown passes and earning sole possession of Rutgers’ all-time touchdown receptions title. He was clicking with Chris Laviano, who also didn’t play until the second half. The concern with Carroo coming into 2015 was how he’d function without a guy like Gary Nova, who he’d known since grade school. It was only Norfolk State last week, but if that was a 2015 preview, the Big Ten’s returning receiver will hold on to that claim.
Number to remember: 4-18-1
According to Seattle Times reporter Stefanie Loh, that’s Washington State’s record when traveling to the Eastern Time Zone. Apparently it doesn’t matter what they do in the state of Washington, either, considering the Cougars dropped the opener to unranked FCS Portland State. At home. Mike Leach’s group will be making the cross-country trip after suffering arguably the worst loss of a Power Five team. The Cougars are lucky it’s a 3:30 p.m. kick, or else they might look as asleep as Stanford was at Northwestern last week.
Prediction: Rutgers 24, Washington State 21
This could end up being one of those games that both teams don’t look like they want to win. I see Laviano going through a bit more adversity against a more physical front than he did against Norfolk State. The Scarlet Knights will have to rely more on the run game late to control the clock. It won’t be the prettiest, but Kyle Flood gets to 2-0.