Rutgers at Washington State (Seattle, Wash.)
Thursday, Aug. 28 • 10 p.m. ET • Fox Sports 1
• Rutgers opens its 145th year of football in the state of Washington for the first time Thursday, August 28 at Washington State in Seattle. The game will be played at CenturyLink Field, the home of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
• Kickoff is set for 10:05 p.m. with live national television coverage on Fox Sports 1. Tim Brando (play-by-play), Joel Klatt (color) and Jenny Taft (sideline) have the call. It marks the first time Rutgers has played a game on Fox Sports 1.
• Coverage on the Rutgers IMG Sports Network begins at 9 p.m. with Chris Carlin, Ray Lucas and Anthony Fucilli calling the action. Fans can listen to the game on WCTC-1450 AM in Central Jersey and WNYM 970-AM in New York City.
• Rutgers and Washington State square off for the first time in series history. The Cougars make the return trip to Piscataway on Sept. 12, 2015.
• The game marks the first time in 145 years of Rutgers football that the Scarlet Knights have started consecutive seasons playing a road game on the west coast.
• Rutgers is the only school in the nation this year to face the nation’s leader in passing attempts from 2013 (Washington State - 756) and the team with the most rushing attempts from 2013 (Navy - 775). The Scarlet Knights open the year against the Cougars while traveling to face Navy Sept. 20 in Annapolis.
With a Win ...
• Rutgers would capture a victory in its season opener for the fourth time in the previous five seasons. The only loss during that span was last season’s 52-51 overtime setback at Fresno State.
• For just the fourth time since 2006, Rutgers opens the year on the road. The Scarlet Knights are 2-1 in road games to start the year since 2006 (24-12 at Tulane in 2012 and 21-16 at North Carolina in 2006) along with last season’s loss at Fresno State.
• Rutgers looks for its first win all-time against a school from the Pac-12. The Scarlet Knights last played a school from the Pac-12 in the 2005 Insight Bowl (Arizona State). Rutgers is 0-4 all-time vs. Pac-12 competition (0-2 vs. Arizona State; 0-2 vs. Cal).
Rutgers is B1G
Rutgers University became an official member of the Big Ten Conference July 1, increasing the Big Ten’s membership to 14 institutions along with the addition of Maryland.
The Big Ten now boasts more than 520,000 total students and 5.7 million living alumni. The conference’s broad-based athletic programs will feature almost 9,500 student-athletes for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports, including 28 official Big Ten sports. Maryland and Rutgers are already members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), an academic consortium of Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago that is a highly regarded model for effective and voluntary collaboration among top research universities. In 2012, CIC institutions produced over $10 billion in research expenditures.
The Rutgers football team begins its first season as a Big Ten program on August 28 at Washington State. The Scarlet Knights will make their debut in Big Ten action at home against Penn State on September 13.
The 2014 football season will feature new division alignments, with Maryland and Rutgers joined by Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State in the East Division. Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin will play in the West Division. A representative from each division will play in the Big Ten Football Championship Game on Dec. 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, with the winner earning the Big Ten Championship.
Since the announcement to add Maryland and Rutgers in November 2012, the Big Ten has made a series of announcements highlighting the conference’s increased presence on the East Coast. Last June, the Big Ten announced an agreement to take part in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, sending conference football teams to play at Yankee Stadium on an annual basis. In April, the Big Ten announced that it would open a second office in New York City while securing access to satellite office space in Washington, D.C. In May, the conference unveiled plans to take part in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual early-season men’s basketball series with the Big East named in honor of Dave Gavitt, and announced that the 2017 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament will be held at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. Also in May, BTN confirmed that the network had reached deals with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision for broad distribution to their subscribers in the New York/New Jersey television markets. In June, BTN confirmed that a similar agreement was reached with Comcast for broad distribution in Maryland and New Jersey.
The Opening Act
Rutgers is 73-62-9 all-time in season openers, including a 9-5 record since 2000. The Scarlet Knights are opening the year on the road for the third straight year.
The trip to Seattle is the third-longest trip in the continental United States for a game in school history according to Google Maps. All three games were on the list were season-opening games for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers did play at Hawaii in 1974 and against Pitt in Dublin, Ireland in 1989.
Game Miles from Piscataway
9/4/99 at California 2,888
8/29/13 at Fresno State 2,885
8/28/14 at Washington St. (in Seattle) 2,848
Opening Day Notes
Rutgers has scored 50 or more points in a season-opener five times, including a 68-6 victory over Colgate on Sept. 4, 1993. The school record for most points in the first game of the season was 79 after the Scarlet Knights defeated U.S. Merchant Marine 79-6 on Sept. 24, 1949. The last time Rutgers scored more than 50 points in the opening game of the season was last year at Fresno State (51). Rutgers has posted 35 shutouts all-time in season-openers.
Earliest Start Date in School History
Rutgers opens the season on August 28, the earliest date to begin a year in school history. The Scarlet Knights have played eight times in the month of August to begin a season, going 5-3.
Among the five victories in August to open a season for the Scarlet Knights was the first game played in the Big East Conference in 1991 - a 20-13 triumph over Boston College.
August Season Openers
8/29/13 Fresno State 52, Rutgers 51 (OT)
8/30/07 Rutgers 38, Buffalo 3
8/30/03 Rutgers 24, Buffalo 10
8/31/02 Villanova 37, Rutgers 19
8/30/01 Rutgers 31. Buffalo 15
8/30/97 Virginia Tech 59, Rutgers 19
8/31/96 Rutgers 38, Villanova 28
8/31/91 Rutgers 20, Boston College 13
Home games in bold
Memorable Season Openers
Here is a look back at some of the most memorable season openers for the Scarlet Knights:
Fresno St. 52, Rutgers 51 (8/29/2013 at FSU)
In one of ESPNU’s Top 25 college football games of the entire season, Fresno State stopped Rutgers’ attempt at a two-point conversion in overtime to defeat the Scarlet Knights 52-51. The 103 combined points scored were the most in a season opener in RU history. The two teams combined for 1,094 yards of total offense and 55 first downs.
Rutgers 24, Tulane 12 (9/1/2012 at Tulane)
Cornerback Brandon Jones returned an interception 14 yards for a touchdown to help Rutgers surge past Tulane 24-12 to notch the first win of head coach Kyle Flood’s career “On the Banks” in the Superdome. The Scarlet Knights put the pesky Green Wave away with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Gary Nova to Brandon Coleman in the fourth quarter.
Rutgers 38, Buffalo 3 (8/30/2007 at RU)
Rutgers cruised to an easy 38-3 victory over Buffalo as junior WR Tiquan Underwood set a school record with 248 yards receiving. The New Jersey native hauled in 10 receptions on the night, including a pair of touchdowns in the 35-point victory.
Rutgers 21, N. Carolina 16 (9/2/2006 at UNC)
Rutgers’ historic 2006 season began with an All-America performance by Ray Rice as the sophomore running back rushed for 201 yards to lead the Scarlet Knights to a 21-16 victory on the road in Chapel Hill. The victory propelled Rutgers to a 9-0 start in 2006 en route to an overall record of 11-2 and a 12th place finish in the final national rankings.
Rutgers 19, Michigan St. 14 (9/4/2004 at RU)
In front of an ABC television audience and a sell-out crowd at Rutgers Stadium, Rutgers stopped Michigan State 19-14 to open the 2004 season. PK Jeremy Ito connected on four field goals and DE Ryan Neill returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown in the win.
Rutgers 31, Buffalo 15 (8/30/2001 at UB)
The first game of the Greg Schiano era finished in the win column for the Scarlet Knights. RB Dennis Thomas rushed for 177 yards on 30 carries and QB Ryan Cubit threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns in his first game as a Scarlet Knight to help secure the victory.
Rutgers 20, Boston College 13 (8/31/1991 at RU)
Rutgers and Boston College played the inaugural BIG EAST conference game as the Scarlet Knights defeated the Eagles 20-13 at Rutgers Stadium. RB Bill Bailey scored the first touchdown in league history just 1:17 into the game while QB Tom Tarver threw for 275 yards and a touchdown.
Rutgers 17, #15/14 Michigan St. 13 (9/10/1988 at MSU)
The 1988 season began with a bang as Rutgers upset Michigan State 17-13 in East Lansing. QB Scott Erney completed 25-of-36 passes for 239 yards and LB Doug Kokoskie recovered a MSU fumble at the RU 10-yard line with 5:32 remaining to seal the upset over the defending Rose Bowl champions.
Rutgers 28, #3 Florida 28 (9/14/1985 at UF)
Backup QB Joe Gagliardi came off the bench to rally Rutgers and complete a two-point conversion pass to Curtis Stephens with 35 seconds remaining as the Scarlet Knights, trailing by 21 points at one point, tied third-ranked Florida, 28-28 in Gainesville.
#11/7 Penn St. 15, Rutgers 12 (9/8/1984 at PSU)
In his first game as head coach at Rutgers, Dick Anderson returned to State College to face Penn State, where he spent 11 years as an assistant coach under Joe Paterno. Anderson’s Scarlet Knights were tied at 10 at halftime versus the nationally-ranked Nittany Lions, but a second-half safety and field goal proved too much as the Scarlet Knights lost 15-12.
Rutgers 16, Princeton 13 (9/30/1961 at PU)
An 83-yard pass play from Bill Speranza to Lee Curley, and a two-point run by Dave Brody with 3:27 to play gave Rutgers a 16-7 edge en route to a 16-13 victory over Princeton, Rutgers’ fourth straight win over the Tigers. The win was the first as the Scarlet Knights finished the 1961 season 9-0 - the first undefeated season in school history.
Rutgers 6, Princeton 4 (11/6/1869 at RU)
The first college football game was played at College Field in New Brunswick as Rutgers came away with a 6-4 victory.
This Week’s Opponent: Washington State
Washington State made its first bowl appearance since 2003 last year in the New Mexico Bowl. The Cougars ended the 2013 campaign 6-7 overall and 4-5 in the Pac-12 north.
Head coach Mike Leach has installed his vaunted “Air Raid” offense for the Cougars and the results have been impressive. Washington State led the nation last season in pass attempts (756) and completions (470) while ranking fourth nationally with 4,784 passing yards.
Senior QB Connor Halliday returns for his final season with the Cougs after a prolific 2013 campaign. Halliday threw for 4,597 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2013 - ranking third nationally in yards and tied for seventh in touchdowns.
On defense, Washington State struggled as a unit in 2013. The Cougars yielded 458 yards of offense per game to rank 103rd nationally. WSU gave up an average of 32.5 points per game in 2013.
Overall, WSU returns 15 starters and 36 lettermen from last year.
Now in his 13th season as a head coach, Leach is 93-59 overall and 9-16 over his first three seasons in Pullman with the Cougars.
Since 2009, Rutgers has led all schools nationally with 35 blocked kicks/punts. During that time span, RU has scored 15 touchdowns via special teams. The Scarlet Knights have blocked at least four kicks every year since 2007.
NCAA Team Blocked Kick Leaders Since 2009
1. Rutgers 35
2. Fresno State 26
3. USC 24
News and Notes ...
• Thursday is the first time Rutgers has had three consecutive season openers on the road since playing six straight away to start the season from 1984-89.
• This is the third time in school history Rutgers has not had a repeat opponent from the previous year on the schedule (1886, 1916).
• Rutgers is 17-3 in the last three seasons when attempting at least 35 rushes in a game.
• Rutgers finished third in the nation last season with a 77.8 conversion rate on fourth down (21-of-27).
• Rutgers is one of 21 teams in the power five conference (64 teams) to reach a bowl game in at least eight of the last nine seasons (Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Nebraska, Ohio State, Rutgers, Wisconsin, Oregon, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Missouri, South Carolina).
• Rutgers finished 14th in the nation last season with only 18.47 yards allowed per kickoff return.
• Rutgers finished fourth in the nation last season with only 100.8 rushing yards allowed per game.
• Rutgers is 13-2 when scoring 20 points or more under Kyle Flood and 12-2 when leading after three quarters over the last two seasons.
• Eight of the top 16 crowds in stadium history have happened since the start of the 2012 season. This season, Rutgers has sold a record amount of season tickets (Over 30,500).
• CenturyLink Field is sixth NFL stadium RU will play in since 2010: Raymond James Stadium (Bucs, USF), Heinz Field (Steelers, Pittsburgh), MetLife (Giants, Jets), Superdome (Saints and formerly Tulane) and Lincoln Financial Field (Eagles, Temple).
Big Play James
Junior running back Paul James is second in school history with 5.61 yards per rush (min. 100 attempts). He averaged 6.1 on first-down rushes with 12 first downs gained and four touchdowns last season en route to all-conference first team honors.
The South Jersey product finished 2013 with 881 yards rushing and nine touchdowns in eight starts.
James converted a first down on third-down plays seven out of nine attempts last season.
Junior wide receiver Leonte Carroo was third in school history with nine touchdown receptions in 2013. In just 10 games played, Carroo totaled 28 receptions for 478 yards (17.1 average) with nine touchdowns a season ago. In his career, 32 percent of Carroo’s receptions (9-of-28) have gone for a touchdown.
Of passes completed to Carroo, 75 percent (21-of-28) went for either a first down or touchdown last season.
Kroft Coming Up Big
Of passes completed to tight end Tyler Kroft, 72 percent (31-of-43) went for either a first down or touchdown last season. The Downingtown, Pa., product earned honorable mention All-America honors in 2013 after ending the season with 46 receptions for 632 yards and five touchdowns. He became the first RU tight end since 2006 to be named first team all-conference and he led the team in receptions and receiving yards.
Super Nova Notes ...
• Senior quarterback Gary Nova ranks 11th among active NCAA Division I quarterbacks with 51 career touchdown passes. (WSU’s Halliday ranks No. 6 with 58).
• Rutgers is 15-4 in Nova starts where he throws one or zero interceptions.
• Nova needs 202 yards to move into fourth in school history in passing yards.
• Nova needs 13 completions to move into fourth in school history in completions.
• Nova needs one touchdown to tie for second in school history and nine to become the all-time leader.
• Nova owns five games of 300 passing yards or more, third-most in school history.
• Nova went 7-for-9 passing on fourth down last season with seven first downs and three touchdowns.
The Kick is Good!
Junior kicker Kyle Federico is sixth in school history with a 62.1 field goal percentage (18-of-29). He made eight of his last 10 field goal attempts last season. Federico needs three successful field goals to move into the school’s top-10 list for made attempts.
Nation’s Leader Among Freshmen
Steve Longa led all freshmen nationally with 9.5 tackles per game in 2013. The New Jersey product had three games with 12-plus tackles in 2013. In all, Longa had 123 tackles on the year, first among all freshmen nationally. Longa ranked 27th nationally in tackles per game. It marked the fourth-straight season a Rutgers player has totaled over 100 tackles in a season and the most by a middle linebacker since Gary Brackett finished with 130 stops in 2002. Longa was the first Rutgers freshman to record 100 tackles in a season since defensive back Courtney Greene in 2005. Greene totaled a team-high 116 stops in 2005. 73 of Longa’s tackles last season were on rushing plays.
Two Straight Bowls for Flood
Kyle Flood became the first coach in 144 years of football at Rutgers to guide the Scarlet Knights to two consecutive bowls in his first two years as head coach. Flood and Greg Schiano are the only coaches in RU history to guide the Scarlet Knights to multiple bowl appearances. Flood has 15 victories in his first two seasons as head coach at Rutgers. The 15 wins rank him second in school history for wins by a head coach in his first two seasons. Flood’s nine victories in 2012 were the most by a first-year head coach in school history. He is the only coach in RU history to lead a team to a bowl and conference championship in their first season.
Most Wins in First Two Years at Rutgers
John F. Bateman (1960-61).................................. 17
Kyle Flood (2012-13).......................................... 15
Harvey J. Harman (1938-39).................................. 14
Stingy Against the Run
One staple of the Rutgers defense over the last decade has been its ability to stop the run. The Scarlet Knights finished fourth nationally in rushing defense, allowing 100.8 yards per game last season.
NCAA Rushing Defense Leaders
School Yards Per Game
1. Louisville..................................................... 80.7
2. Michigan State.............................................. 86.6
3. Stanford....................................................... 89.7
4. Rutgers...................................................... 100.8
5. Wisconsin................................................. 102.5
Pipeline to the NFL
Rutgers had seven players sign NFL contracts over the offseason. Currently, there are 32 former Scarlet Knights in the NFL.
Brandon Coleman WR 2011-13 New Orleans Saints
Jeremy Deering DB 2010-13 New England Patriots
Jamal Merrell LB 2010-13 Tennessee Titans
Jamil Merrell DL 2010-13 Chicago Bears
Quron Pratt WR 2009-13 Philadelphia Eagles
Marcus Thompson DL 2010-13 Miami Dolphins
Lew Toler DB 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers
Going Overtime in the Opener
The 2013 season opener at Fresno State took four hours and 26 minutes to complete in elapsed time. It was the first RU game to eclipse four hours since the double-overtime win at Syracuse (4:20) in 2011 and the longest in stat files going back to the 2000 season. The Scarlet Knights did not arrive home from the trip to Fresno until 10:45 a.m. ET the following morning. The triple overtime win at SMU lasted four hours and 34 minutes. The 3OT win marked the first overtime win since RU downed USF, 20-17, in the first overtime on Nov. 5, 2011. Rutgers competed in only one other three overtime game in its history at No. 15 West Virginia on Dec. 2, 2006 (41-39 loss). The Scarlet Knights are 5-6 all-time in overtime contests.
This and That ...
• Rutgers is the only school in the nation to post a shutout in each of the last eight seasons.
• Rutgers is 47-5 since 2000 when holding opponents to less than 300 yards of total offense.
• The Scarlet Knights are 36-9 since 2006 when rushing for 150 yards or more in a game.
• Since 2000, the Scarlet Knights are 48-18 when going over the 150-yard mark on the ground.
• Since 2000, Rutgers is 47-14 when holding the opponent below 100 yards rushing in a game.
• Since 2000, Rutgers is 23-3 when limiting the opponent to less than 50 yards rushing in a game.
• Nine true freshmen earned playing time in 2013, with cornerback Nadir Barnwell becoming the first to make a start versus Arkansas. A total of three true freshmen started at cornerback in 2013 for Rutgers (Barnwell, Anthony Cioffi, Delon Stephenson).
• Rutgers was the only school in the nation to have two true freshman cornerbacks start in the same game in 2013.
• Seventeen different players made their first career start in 2013, with three starting all 13 games (Longa, Lumpkin, Mera).
2014 Captains Named
Two-time captains aren’t particularly rare at Rutgers recently, but those achieving the distinction have had to prove they deserved the honor the second time around.
Quarterback Gary Nova did just that as a junior last year, having been replaced for the final three games after he started the previous 23 – a test of leadership, character and captaincy worthiness if there ever was one.
So it came as little surprise that the Scarlet Knights’ senior quarterback attained two-time captaincy, being named one of the official team leaders along with strong safety Lorenzo Waters, defensive lineman David Milewski, defensive tackle Darius Hamilton and fullback Michael Burton following a vote of the players.
Nova joined Mike Teel (2007-08), Eric Foster (2006-07), Tres Moses (2004-05), L.J. Smith (2001-02), Gary Brackett (2001-02), Shawn Seabrooks (2001-02) and Brian Sheridan (1995 and 1997) as the eighth two-time Rutgers captain in the past 20 years.