Game 6: Football vs. Illinois
RUTGERS (1-4, 0-2) vs. ILLINOIS (2-2, 0-1) October 6, 2018 • 12:01 p.m. ET • Big Ten Network HighPoint.com Stadium • Piscataway, N.J. PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers football turns the calendar to October by hosting Illinois Saturday at noon at HighPoint.com Stadium. The Scarlet Knights beat the Fighting Illini, 35-24, last season in Champaign. Big Ten Network has the television broadcast with Lisa Byington (play-by-play) and Chuck Long (analyst) on the call. 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 195, Sirius 94). In addition, Justin Sontupe, Stephen Nelson and Allie Palmer have the WRSU 88.7-FM student broadcast. It will be the annual Blackout game as the Scarlet Knights will wear their all-black adidas uniforms. Fans are encouraged to attend the game in black Rutgers gear. Parents of Rutgers students will have access to a special ticket offer as part of Parent & Family Weekend, hosted by Rutgers' New Student Orientation and Family Programs. Parents and families can access special ticket pricing through their student's ticket portal. Students will need their RUID to log in. Questions can be directed to the ticket office by calling 866-445-GORU or by visiting RutgersGameday.com/parent-family. Rutgers will also welcome high school bands from throughout the state as part of Band Day. To get your band involved, please contact Nicole Collins(NCollins@scarletknights.com). SCOUTING RUTGERS The Scarlet Knights will wrap up a season-long three-game homestand by facing a Big Ten West opponent for the first time this season. RU went 2-1 in cross-divisional matchups in 2017. The team has won four of the last six Blackout games, including a victory over Maryland last year, the initial Big Ten win versus Michigan in 2014 and a comeback to top Arkansas in 2013. Most recently, Rutgers rallied in the fourth quarter to score 10 points and make it a one-score game, but Indiana held on for the 24-17 win. The Scarlet Knights held the Hoosiers scoreless in the final two quarters and have permitted just seven points in the second half over the last two weeks. Freshman Artur Sitkowski found redshirt freshman Shameen Jones for an 11-yard touchdown pass to open the game, capping a 10-play, 75-yard drive. However, Indiana posted 24 points to pull ahead at intermission. The Scarlet Knights took advantage of a fumble forced by sophomore Tyreek Maddox-Williams to get back into the game in the fourth quarter. The key play to setup a one-yard touchdown run by graduate student Jonathan Hilliman was a 39-yard pass from freshman Isaih Pacheco to senior Jerome Washington. Right after, junior Damon Hayes picked off a pass for a touchback and RU put together a 14-play drive that ended with a 52-yard field goal by sophomore Justin Davidovicz that established a stadium record. A fourth-down conversion by IU allowed the visitors to run out the clock. Sitkowski has started all five games as a rookie and ranks ninth among freshmen quarterbacks nationally with 483 passing yards. He completed passes to seven different receivers last week. Sophomore Raheem Blackshear led RU in all-purpose yards for the fifth time in as many games with 86 against the Hoosiers. He ranks eighth in the Big Ten with 111.8 all-purpose yards per game this year and is averaging 5.5 yards per attempt on 102 career carries, including a career-best 41-yard run at Illinois in 2017. Hilliman now has 30 career rushing touchdowns, with a team-best four this season, to tie for ninth-most among active FBS players. In the passing game, Blackshear paces the team with 19 catches, while Washington is up to 202 receiving yards on 11 receptions. The tight end has four catches of at least 25 yards and sits fourth in the Big Ten with 18.36 yards per reception. Freshman Eddie Lewis and sophomore Bo Melton join Blackshear and Washington with a catch in each of the five games. Seniors Deonte Roberts and Kevin Wilkins both registered 13 tackles last time out, with Hayes adding 10 to go with his fourth career interception. Senior Trevor Morris is first in the Big Ten with 45 total tackles this season, needing 41 more stops to join the Rutgers career top-10 list. Davidovicz's field goal from 52 yards out tied for the fourth-longest in school history and the longest since joining the Big Ten. As previously mentioned, it was also the furthest in stadium history, where football has been played since 1938. He has started his career 4-for-4 for the best opening since Ryan Sands began 6-for-6 in 2001. Freshman Nihym Anderson played on the kickoff team last week to make it 25 collegiate debuts for RU this season, including 12 true freshman. There are 28 combined freshmen and sophomores on the latest depth chart (16 offense, 12 defense). SCOUTING ILLINOIS The Fighting Illini were on a bye last week and are set for their first true road game of the season. The team fell to then-No. 10 Penn State, 63-24, on Sept. 21 after surrendering 42 unanswered points after taking the lead in the third quarter. Illinois previously fell to USF in Chicago and beat Western Illinois and Kent State at home. M.J. Rivers (422 passing yards, three touchdowns) and AJ Bush (142 rushing yards) have both started games behind center, while Reggie Corbin and Mike Epstein are both averaging 6.8 yards per carry in the running game. Ricky Smalling owns two receiving scores. Defensively, DelShawn Phillips has totaled a team-best 32 tackles with two interceptions and a fumble recovery, as Jake Hansen is at six stops in the backfield. The unit is tied for first in the Big Ten with seven passes intercepted. Lovie Smith is in his third season as head coach.