Rutgers football beats Virginia Tech and season is getting interesting
PISCATAWAY – Rutgers football A sense of déjà vu settled over SHI Stadium as the field descended into shadows early Saturday evening. Rutgers finds itself in a familiar position, standing at 3-0 for the third consecutive season after a convincing 35-16 triumph over Virginia Tech.
But what comes next?
This question encapsulates the essence of the 2023 campaign for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are now at a juncture where progress will be the yardstick against which they measure their success, having failed to capitalize on their quick starts in the past two seasons. The next few months will serve as the ultimate gauge of their growth.
Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano expressed his perspective, saying, “I don’t know the significance. We worked really hard to be 3-0. So we’re going to relax a little bit tonight and then it’s right back to work tomorrow. We know what’s coming. We know what’s coming the rest of the year. I mean, that’s the league we play in. That’s what we love about it.”
Who wouldn’t have gladly accepted a 4-1 record at the end of September, especially with seven games remaining to secure a bowl berth and potentially aim higher? The key to this scenario was winning the first three games, with the formidable Hokies standing as the biggest hurdle.
Mission accomplished. Even if Rutgers succumbs to the odds and loses to Michigan next week, they are virtually assured of victory against FCS opponent Wagner to close out the month.
Many questions still linger, but they will be answered in the coming weeks, making the Scarlet Knights’ journey all the more intriguing.
The game itself took an interesting turn in the second half. After Rutgers appeared poised for a dominant victory, holding a 21-3 halftime lead against their former Big East rivals, Virginia Tech mounted a comeback with two touchdowns, narrowing the gap to 21-16 early in the fourth quarter.
However, the local fans breathed a sigh of relief when Kyle Monangai broke free for a fourth-quarter touchdown run, and the defense came up big with a crucial stop on fourth down with 6:48 left, providing Rutgers the breathing room it needed. Monangai then sealed the game with a 12-yard TD run with 3:20 to play.
At this point, there isn’t much to distinguish this year’s team from the previous two. The defense performed admirably in this contest, having conceded just 30 points in three games.
“We didn’t play our best at times, but our guys figured it out. That’s part of it,” Schiano remarked.
The road to a bowl game for Rutgers won’t be a walk in the park, with a challenging slate that includes a trip to Wisconsin in October and matchups against Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State still on the horizon. However, contests against Indiana, Iowa, and Maryland will provide better opportunities for assessment, with a chance to reach or surpass the .500 mark.
The win over Virginia Tech adds a layer of intrigue to Rutgers’ season. The looming matchup against Michigan presents questions about how the defense will fare against the Wolverines’ offense, but there’s optimism based on their current performance.
Additionally, the development of quarterback Gavin Wimsatt is an intriguing narrative as the offense continues to progress. Coach Schiano seeks to cultivate a player capable of leading the program to greater heights.
Against Virginia Tech, Rutgers did what was necessary, capitalizing on a turnover early in the game and converting it into a touchdown on the very next play. They maintained control throughout the contest, never allowing the Hokies to fully recover.
“We needed that takeaway,” Schiano emphasized. “The two takeaways gave us an opportunity. The good thing, we got the ball down in the red zone, and we scored three touchdowns in the red zone. That’s not easy to do. We got to keep doing that.”
Next up on Rutgers’ schedule is a showdown with No. 2 Michigan. While the Scarlet Knights may face a formidable opponent, they have the opportunity to make a statement.
In conclusion, Rutgers finds itself at a pivotal juncture, standing at 3-0 once again. The foundation is set, and all that remains is for Coach Greg Schiano’s Scarlet Knights to demonstrate that they are building something substantial upon it.