Game 4: Football vs. Buffalo
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – After playing consecutive games on the road, Rutgers football returns to HighPoint.com Stadium to host Buffalo Saturday at noon. The Scarlet Knights are set to open a three-game homestand and start a stretch of six of the next eight at home. It will be the first meeting against the Bulls since 2007 and the seventh overall. Big Ten Network has the television broadcast with Joe Beninati (play-by-play) and James Laurinaitis (analyst) on the call. With BTN carrying multiple games in the time slot, click here for the out-of-market channel finder. Chris Carlin (play-by-play), Ray Lucas (analyst), Eric LeGrand (analyst) and Anthony Fucilli (sideline) are set to deliver the action on the Rutgers IMG Sports Network (WCTC 1450-AM, WOR 710-AM, WENJ 97.3-FM, WNJE 920-AM, XM 201, Sirius 111). In addition, Matt Howe, Stephen Nelson and Brad LoPrinzi have the WRSU 88.7-FM student broadcast.
SCOUTING RUTGERS The Scarlet Knights seek a return to the win column after falling to No. 4 Ohio State and Kansas on the road, being the only team in the Big Ten to have played two true away games through the first three weeks. Most recently against the Jayhawks, RU blocked two field goals, with senior Deonte Robertsreturning one for a touchdown, and graduate student Jonathan Hilliman punched in a two-yard rushing score. It was Rutgers' first trip to a Big 12 stadium since visiting Texas in 1997. Two more players made their debut for the team last week to make it 24 newcomers in action so far this season. Twenty-one among the group recorded their first collegiate action, including 10 true freshmen. There are 27 combined freshmen and sophomores on the latest depth chart (16 offense, 11 defense). Offensively, sophomore Raheem Blackshear topped the century mark on the ground for the second time by notching 102 rushing yards at Kansas. He is averaging 5.5 yards per carry as a Scarlet Knight. In addition, Blackshear paces the offense with 12 receptions this season and has led the team in all-purpose yards in each of the three games with 371 overall. Hilliman has three rushing touchdowns to bring his career total to 29, ranked seventh among active FBS players. Freshman Artur Sitkowski has started each of the first three games at quarterback with 33 completions for 290 yards. Fifth-year senior Giovanni Rescigno has thrown for 1,510 yards and seven touchdowns in 18 career appearances. Senior Trevor Morris added six more stops to up his team-leading total to 26 on the season. He joins sophomore Elorm Lumor and senior Isaiah Wharton as the three Rutgers defenders to be in on at least one tackle-for-loss in each of the three games. The unit has 21 overall, 10 ahead of the 2017 pace. Roberts highlighted special teams at Kansas by blocking a field goal, recovering the loose ball and running 64 yards for a touchdown. It was the fourth blocked field goal RU returned for a score since 2002. Later on in the first quarter, senior Jon Bateky swatted another field goal attempt to make it 52 blocked kicks over the last 10 years, 10 more than any other team in the nation. The Scarlet Knights are tied for the FBS lead with three blocks so far this year and have at least two each year since 2002. Rutgers previously defeated Texas State, 35-7, in its season opener at HighPoint.com Stadium. It was the largest margin of victory for the Scarlet Knights against an FBS opponent since 2009. A balanced offensive attack picked up 218 rushing yards and 205 passing yards to top 200 both ways for the first time since 2015, while the defense did not permit a score and held the Bobcats to 1-of-13 on third down. SCOUTING BUFFALO The Bulls improved to 3-0 for the first time since 1983 by defeating Eastern Michigan, 35-28, in their MAC opener at home last Saturday. Quarterback Tyree Jackson finished 21-of-26 passing for 325 yards, finding K.J. Osborn, who had 188 receiving yards, for three touchdowns. Jackson owns a 65.3 completion percentage on the season for 12 scores, tied for second in the nation. Kevin Marks leads the ground game with 219 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while Osborn and Anthony Johnson each have 16 receptions and have combined for 507 yards and seven touchdowns. Defensively, Khalil Hodge paces the team with 32 tackles and Chuck Harris has 3.5 sacks. Buffalo previously defeated Temple and Delaware State. The program is led by fourth-year head coach Lance Leipold. THE SERIES Rutgers is 5-1 against Buffalo since the series started in 2000, going 3-1 at home and 2-0 on the road. The last matchup in 2007 was a 38-3 victory for then-No. 16 Rutgers in Piscataway. With John McNulty as offensive coordinator, Ray Rice rushed for 184 yards and three touchdowns, while Tiquan Underwood caught 10 passes for a school-record 248 receiving yards and two scores. Mike Teel finished 16-of-23 passing for 328 yards. The defense allowed just 70 rushing yards. Brian Leonard ran for 121 yards in the 2005 17-3 road win. The first 100-yard rushing game versus Buffalo was Dennis Thomas' 177-yard performance in the 31-15 victory in 2001. The 2001 game was also the last time Rutgers started a true freshman quarterback in the season opener before Sitkowski this year. Aaron Martin totaled 131 receiving yards that day and Shawn Seabrooks had a 73-yard interception return for touchdown, the fifth-longest in school history. Freshman wide receiver Paul Woods and special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Vince Okruch are both from Buffalo, N.Y. UP NEXT Rutgers returns to Big Ten play by welcoming Indiana to HighPoint.com Stadium for a noon game on Sept. 29. Big Ten Network has the broadcast. Fans can purchase access to the pregame RU Brewfest as well as a ticket to the game for $50.