A struggling Rutgers passing game has seen the Scarlet Knights score just 16 points over its past two games heading into Thursday night’s pseudo Big East Championship contest against Louisville, where Rutgers is favored by 3.5.
Fortunately for the Scarlet Knights, they won one of those games though it makes things a little scary heading up against a Louisville pass defense that ranks 14th in the country.
Gary Nova went just 11 for 19 for 186 yards two games ago in a 10-3 win over Cincy as a 6.5-point road dog and then went 18 of 37 for 157 yards in a 27-6 thumping at the hands of Pitt last weekend.
The problem could be that opposing defenses have Rutgers’ number 11 games deep into the season. The Scarlet Knights, who rank first in the Big East in turnover margin, rely on a conservative run-first offense and a stingy defense to get turnovers and create short fields, as discussed in this blog on NJ.com.
The good news for Rutgers is that Louisville has QB issues of its own. Starter Teddy Bridgewater was expected to play with a broken non-throwing wrist, but he was ruled out as a starter on Thursday. Senior backup Will Stein will now start in his place. So this game could all boil down to which side can stop the run better than the other.
Rutgers owns the 11th-ranked rushing defense in the nation (110.7 yds against per game) while Louisville ranks 60th in that category (159.9 yds per game). Both teams are similar in rushing offense with Rutgers ranking 94th and Louisville ranking 91st in the nation.