While there are still some games left to play in the current football season, it’s never too early to look ahead at what's to come. With the recent release of the 2023 schedule for the Rutgers football team, fans can do just that. Here are some positives and negatives regarding next season’s slate for the Scarlet Knights.
The opening three games
Rutgers will open up the season with three straight home games. To have all three of those games be ones that the program has a realistic shot at winning is a positive way to start off the season.
Beginning with a Big Ten foe in Northwestern, the Knights have an opportunity to snag a conference victory right off the bat. Following that game up with two out-of-conference opponents, Temple and Virginia Tech, the program has a chance of righting the ship early and getting off to a hot 3-0 start.
Having an FCS opponent in the Seahawks on the schedule will bode well for Rutgers. With the 66-7 onslaught that occurred in Piscataway earlier this season, it’s safe to say that the Knights should have no issue in this game.
What is more relevant regarding this game is its placement on the schedule. After what’s bound to be a tough week when Rutgers travels to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to play against Michigan, a home game against Wagner should present a fairly light week before the Knights head to Madison, Wisconsin, to square off against Wisconsin, in what could turn out to be a competitive meeting.
While the scheduling of the Seahawks is definitely in an interesting spot being sandwiched between the games against the No. 4 Wolverines and the Badgers, the showdown with Wagner should offer a chance for Rutgers to tune things up ahead of the latter matchup.
Big Ten East competition
Being a part of the Big Ten is no easy task for any football team, this especially being true when playing in the East Division. With the recent news that the Big Ten will be keeping its East-West alignment for the 2023 season, this means that the Knights will be in for another year of playing some particularly tough competition before USC and UCLA shake things up with the conference alignment when the two join in 2024.
With the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Maryland, Rutgers has five difficult Big Ten East matchups that offer little room for error.
The final four games
The final month of the season will be especially tough for the Knights. Coming off the bye week, the No. 2 Buckeyes will be the first test. From there, Rutgers will be traveling to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City to play Iowa and then to Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania, to take on the No. 16 Nittany Lions.
These are undoubtedly two of the toughest stadiums to play in in the Big Ten, and for these games to be coming fresh off of a clash with the perennial powerhouse that is Ohio State, the Knights will have their work cut out for them.
After the brutal three-game stretch, Rutgers has the Terrapins as its final opponent for the 2023 season. This is a winnable game but will certainly not be an easy one for the Knights.
If all goes well prior to the bye week, a very realistic outcome could have Rutgers sitting at five wins, chasing one more for Bowl eligibility. With the final four games on the schedule, securing that one final win will surely be arduous.
All in all, the Knights may have their struggles, but there is certainly reason to be excited for the 2023 season.
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