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Rutgers football to take on Indiana

Rutgers will take on Indiana in its home opener on Saturday. – Photo by Kelly Carmack

The Rutgers football team started its season with an upset win over Michigan State last week. After posting a streak of 21 straight Big Ten losses, the Scarlet Knights (1-0, 1-0) took advantage of seven Spartan turnovers for their first win against Michigan State (0-1, 0-1) since joining the Big Ten.

"I'm really proud of our guys," said Rutgers head football coach Greg Schiano following the win. "Our coaching staff, our support staff and, most of all, our players. They have worked incredibly hard in a very difficult environment for a long time."

The Knights look to keep their momentum going into their 2020 home opener, which will be played this Saturday. Senior quarterback Noah Vedral will most likely start at quarterback again, returning after throwing for 169 yards and recording one touchdown against the Spartans.

He will be backed by junior running back Isaih Pacheco, who carried 19 times for approximately 61 yards and tallied two touchdowns last week. Wide receivers senior Bo Melton and junior Aron Cruickshank could serve as Rutgers' big playmakers, as they averaged approximately 13 and 11 yards per catch against Michigan State, respectively. 

The team will lean heavily upon the schemes of offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson, whose primary strategy consists of three facets: the quarterbacks understanding receiver hot routes, man-to-man options to beat the defensive coverage and ability to complete checkdowns under duress.

Last week, Gleeson took advantage of a Spartans defensive unit to implement a spread offense that utilized all three factors. 

Indiana looks to capitalize on some momentum of its own after defeating Penn State in an upset overtime win. 

The No. 17 Hoosiers (1-0, 1-0) come to Piscataway boasting an experienced roster that won eight games last season for the first time in nearly two decades. Michael Penix Jr., who set the Indiana single-season completion percentage record last season – with a rating of 68.8 percent, returns under center after rushing for the game-winning two-point conversion last week.

Also returning is Stevie Scott III, who carried 20 times for 57 yards and tallied two touchdowns. 

In the 2019 season, the Hoosiers rushed for an average of 3.6 yards per carry and approximately 130 yards per game. Last week, Indiana tallied 1.6 yards per carry, totaling approximately 41 yards.

The Knights' defense held Michigan State to 50 rushing yards, with approximately 1.3 yards per carry. 

Along with stopping the run, Schiano and defensive coordinator Robb Smith chose to pressure the Spartans' offense and swarm the ball last week.

"We saw what Rutgers did (Saturday) on the road, it got our attention, for sure," said Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen. "It got our (players') attention."

Saturday marks the seventh meeting between Rutgers and Indiana since the Knights entered the Big Ten. While Rutgers emerged victorious in the first two contests, the Hoosiers walked away triumphant in the four most recent matchups.

"We will work hard, stick together, take the work from the practice field and some parts of it, we will be able to put on the game field," Schiano said. "I fully believed we would do that after watching these guys practice. But until you do it, I think everybody learns about themselves, their teammates and their coaches as you go through the competition. It’s a good start, but that’s really what it is. We won’t lose perspective on that."

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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