Rapid Reaction: WSU stuns Rutgers in wild finish
Final: Washington State 37, Rutgers 34
Telling stat: Rutgers loses turnover battle 3-0
Rutgers kept shooting itself in the foot with key turnovers. Chris Laviano had two of his own and was hearing the boo birds from the home fans. Josh Hicks’ was even more costly. After he appeared to have scored the go-ahead touchdown, he fumbled on the very next play and squashed a potential momentum-shifting drive for the Rutgers offense.
Key play: 8-yard WSU TD pass with 13 seconds to play
There were so many crucial plays in a back-and-forth fourth quarter. Janarion Grant had not one, but two touchdown returns in the fourth quarter that gave Rutgers the lead. After Grant’s second return, a 55-yard punt return touchdown, WSU had to drive 90 yards in the final 91 seconds. Luke Falk found River Cracraft for a floater in the back of the end zone, sinking the hearts of Rutgers fans everywhere.
-Grant sets Rutgers all-purpose record
I was ready to crown William Likely the special teams player of the week until Grant decided to go off. The Rutgers returner brought a kick back 100 yards to the house and took a 55-yard punt return in for a score. Already, he leads the nation with three touchdown returns in 2015. With Washington State draped all over Leonte Carroo, Grant also managed lead the Buckeyes in receiving and he ripped off a 21-yard run. He might not have won the Rutgers students $100,000, but Grant has done everything and more since the opening kick off 2015. His 337 all-purpose yards were a Rutgers single game record, too. Win or lose, that’s incredibly impressive.
-Josh Hicks was bell cow…again
He had a crushing fumble, but Kyle Flood is favoring the powerful sophomore to start the season. Paul James, the guy who many expected to be the feature back, only had six carries in this one. Hicks was effective in space, and without the fumble, he had a solid day. Even though Rutgers is definitely not solidified at the quarterback position with Laviano, a 198-yard day on the ground is a positive sign for Rutgers moving forward.
What it means: Rutgers defense needs help
We know that without Darius Hamilton in action, Rutgers isn’t going to be at its best. But the Scarlet Knights couldn’t do much of anything to slow down Falk. Yes, he threw the ball 66 times but 478 passing yards is too many to allow on your home field. There was no matchup for Gabe Marks or Cracraft. That’s troubling for a unit that will be tested even more when conference play starts up.
What’s next: at Penn State
So having said everything I did about the Rutgers defense, they will see an offensive line that’s obviously still figuring things out. The Scarlet Knights could give Penn State all sorts of problems of Kemoko Turay and Darius Hamilton are healthy next week.