Game 8: Football vs. Northwestern
RUTGERS (1-6, 0-4) vs. NORTHWESTERN (3-3, 3-1) October 20, 2018 • 12:01 p.m. ET • Big Ten Network HighPoint.com Stadium • Piscataway, N.J. PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers football is set to host its 85th annual Homecoming game on Saturday against Northwestern at HighPoint.com Stadium. The first Big Ten contest between the programs is scheduled to start at noon. Big Ten Network has the broadcast with Brandon Gaudin (play-by-play), Glen Mason (analyst) and Elise Menaker (reporter) 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 201, Sirius 134). In addition, Matt Howe, Sam Marsdale and Tevin Johnson have the WRSU 88.7-FM student broadcast. SCOUTING RUTGERS The Scarlet Knights are 53-30-1 in Homecoming games, a tradition that dates back every season to 1933 except 1943. RU won the game last season with a 14-12 victory over Purdue, with Gus Edwards ripping a 74-yard rushing touchdown, Giovanni Rescigno connecting with Raheem Blackshear for a 35-yard score and the defense knocking away a two-point conversion to seal the victory late in the fourth quarter. The 12 points allowed are the least surrendered in a Big Ten contest since joining the league in 2014. Northwestern will mark the 38th different Homecoming opponent. The weekend will also mark the induction of five individuals into the Rutgers Hall of Fame: Doug Alongi (baseball), John Howland (men's lacrosse), Carli Lloyd (women's soccer), Ed Scharer (wrestling) and Catherine Whetstone-Battoni (women's swimming). Rutgers is coming off a 34-7 loss at Maryland. Freshman Isaih Pacheco topped the century mark with 107 rushing yards on 22 carries and his first collegiate touchdown. He added 52 yards on kickoff returns to finish with a team-high 159 all-purpose yards in the game. Blackshear paces RU with 655 all-purpose on the season, also leading the offense with 26 receptions. Freshman Artur Sitkowski has started all seven games at quarterback, totaling 758 passing yards on 88 completions. Fifth-year senior Giovanni Rescigno has 20 games of experience at the position and saw action at Maryland. Graduate student Jonathan Hilliman joins Blackshear and Pacheco in the backfield with 291 rushing yards and five touchdowns, which ranks fifth in the Big Ten. He owns 31 career rushing scores. In the passing game, sophomore Bo Melton is averaging 11.4 yards per reception on 25 career catches and is tied with senior Jerome Washington at 202 receiving yards this year. Freshman Eddie Lewis has at least one reception in each game this year. Senior Trevor Morris reached double-digit tackles for the 13th time at Maryland and is first in the Big Ten with 62 stops. He is 24 tackles away from joining the Rutgers top-10 list. On the defensive line, redshirt freshman Mike Tverdov recorded his team-leading third sack last week, also forcing and recovering a fumble on the play. Junior Damon Hayes has two interceptions and fifth-year senior Saquan Hampton has knocked away five passes in the secondary. Sophomore Justin Davidovicz is 5-for-5 on field goals. He previously connected from 52 yards versus Indiana and is one of three Big Ten kickers perfect on the year with at least five attempts. Sophomore Adam Korsak has boomed five punts at least 50 yards with an average of 42.4. In addition, the kickoff unit leads the Big Ten with a net average of 42.1 yards and ranks fifth nationally with only 15.17 yards allowed per return. SCOUTING NORTHWESTERN The Wildcats staged a late comeback to beat Nebraska, 34-31, in overtime last week in Evanston. The team has also beaten Purdue and Michigan State to currently sit tied for first on the loss side in the Big Ten West. Clayton Thorson went 41-for-64 for 455 passing yards against the Cornhuskers and is up to nine passing touchdowns on the year. Flynn Nagel paces the receivers with 622 yards, while the team averages 69.8 rushing yards per game. Blake Gallagher is over 10 tackles per game at 61 and Joe Gaziano has posted 3.5 sacks. Northwestern is the fewest penalized team in the country with only 2.83 against per game. Pat Fitzgerald is in his 13th season as head coach. THE SERIES Rutgers will take on Northwestern in a Big Ten game for the first time to complete the circuit. The Scarlet Knights have faced every other team in the league since joining in 2014. Northwestern will be the 12th different Big Ten program to visit Piscataway for a conference game. Minnesota, who is set to take its initial visit in 2019, is the only other team to have never made the trip. Rutgers owns three all-time wins against Northwestern in as many meetings (1919, 1989, 1991). The first contest, which was played in Newark in 1919, ended as a 28-0 RU win to close the 5-3 season under coach George Foster Sanford, who later earned induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Rutgers traveled to Evanston in 1989 and came away with a 38-27 victory in the 1,000th game in program history. Scott Erney went 13-of-28 for 308 yards passing, while Randy Jackson recorded 90 and 83-yard receptions for touchdowns. The Scarlet Knights out-gained the Wildcats, 515-430, in a matchup that was nationally televised. The most recent encounter took place at Rutgers Stadium in 1991, as Antoine Moore rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns and Gary Melton, father of Bo Melton, raced 96 yards for a kickoff return touchdown to go with 63 receiving yards. Shawn Williams sealed the 22-18 win with a sack on fourth down after Northwestern had driven to the eight. UP NEXT Rutgers will take it bye next weekend before returning to action on Nov. 3 at No. 23 Wisconsin. 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