Delaware vs. Rutgers Betting Odds, Pick, Prediction: Low-Scoring Battle Expected in FBS-FCS Matchup
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Monangai.
Delaware vs. Rutgers Odds
-115o / -105u
-115o / -105u
Rutgers has to be feeling good after a 2-0 start, but it better not overlook this week’s opponent despite its FCS status.
Delaware made it all the way to the final four in the spring FCS Playoffs and absolutely dominated on defense all year long. Up until the semifinal loss to South Dakota State, the Blue Hens were undefeated and beating their opponents by more than 17 points per game on average.
Although Rutgers has an undefeated record, the offense is still looking for any sort of identity, and it could run into some trouble against a very impressive Delaware defense.
Blue Hens Offense
There’s no doubt the defense was the strength of this team in the spring, and it will likely be looking for improvement on the other side of the ball going into this new season.
Five yards per play didn’t provide much to be excited about, and the offense’s struggles were ultimately the reason why Delaware was knocked out of the FCS Playoffs. In the semifinals, eventual FCS runner-up South Dakota State stifled Delaware’s offense, holding it to just 216 total yards on 68 plays while allowing just three points.
To open up the fall season, Delaware’s offense managed to hit some explosive plays against Maine en route to a 34-point performance.
However, quarterback Nolan Henderson completed just 48% of his passes, and the run game was swallowed up for the most part.
Those explosive plays won’t always be there, and better consistency is absolutely going to be needed if this offense wants to take any steps forward in the fall.
This offense was also below the FCS average in Havoc Allowed last spring, which could come into play against an FBS team with a significant talent mismatch.
Blue Hens Defense
In the spring FCS season, this Delaware defense performed extremely well, especially in the secondary. In Delaware’s 10 combined games in 2021 between the spring and fall, not one opponent has passed for 200 yards against the Blue Hens.
This was the only team in the FCS to allow less than five yards per pass attempt during the spring regular season, and it had the lowest completion percentage allowed to boot.
It had no problems making plays on the ball, either, racking up more interceptions than passing touchdowns allowed. The secondary’s elite play continued in Week 1 of the fall, as Delaware headed to Maine and earned an elite 88.9 PFF coverage grade against the Black Bears.
The Blue Hens have a cornerback duo that may make some FBS teams jealous in Kedrick Whitehead and Nijuel Hill. Whitehead allowed a grand total of 77 yards into his coverage during the spring, and Hill allowed just 108, per PFF. Both have generated NFL Draft buzz with their ridiculous coverage numbers and could each hear their names called when the 2022 draft comes around.
Although the run defense wasn’t quite as dominant, it still had some of the best run defense numbers in the FCS and held opponents to just 3.5 yards per carry on average.
Overall, this unit had an elite 4.3 yards per play allowed and allowed just 14.3 points per game on average.
Scarlet Knights Offense
Don’t be fooled by the 61 points in Week 1; this Scarlet Knight offense has major red flags going forward.
Quarterback Noah Vedral had an awful 37.7 PFF passing grade in the game, throwing for just 5.1 yards per attempt. To follow that up, the offense averaged 2.7 yards per play and managed just 17 points against Syracuse. Vedral’s playstyle has been incredibly conservative as well, as his 3.7 average depth of target is the lowest in the nation among all starters currently, per PFF.
However, the offensive line and its 43.6 pass-blocking grade may be forcing him to get rid of the ball quickly.
When the passing game has no threat of explosiveness, it affects the ground game as well.
Defending the run is easier when the defense is confident it won’t get beat deep, which was evidenced by Rutgers’ 50 rushing yards on 43 carries last Saturday.
Delaware may be an FCS team, but this defense is no joke, so don’t be surprised to see the Scarlet Knights struggle offensively here.
Scarlet Knights Defense
The defense has performed very well for Rutgers, but a two-game schedule that came against Temple and Syracuse can definitely make a defense look better than it really is.
It’s actually had extremely similar results in both games, as it allowed 261 yards on 4.1 yards per play to Temple, then 258 yards on 4.2 per play to Syracuse the next week.
Keep in mind that both of these offenses ranked outside the top 100 in Success Rate last season, so we can’t overreact too much from these early results.
Linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi has been all over the field early on, as he is currently the team leader in sacks, total tackles, and tackles for loss.
The Scarlet Knights’ pass rush was definitely one of the bigger strengths of the team last season, and it should be yet again this season. With Fatukasi being a Havoc machine early in the year, as well as returning the only two players on the team who generated more sacks than him in 2020, Rutgers is likely feeling good in the pass rush.
The schedule has been soft, but it’s not getting any tougher with this Delaware offense this week, so the Rutgers defense should continue its dominance on Saturday.
Delaware vs. Rutgers Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Delaware and Rutgers match up statistically:
Delaware Offense vs. Rutgers Defense
Rutgers Offense vs. Delaware Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Delaware vs. Rutgers Betting Pick
Both offenses could have a long day in this matchup. It doesn't sound right to say that a Big Ten team will struggle with an FCS defense, but I'm expecting this Delaware defense and its elite secondary to give this offense some trouble.
On the other side, getting any sort of consistency on offense is going to be tough for the Blue Hens in a lopsided matchup against this Rutgers defense.
Although the total is low, I'm not quite sure it's low enough. I don't run projections for FBS vs. FCS games, so this won't be a full-unit play for me, but I'm going to be on the under in this one on Saturday.
These FBS-FCS lines can take off really quickly after opening, so there is no guarantee that these prices will still be available by the time Saturday rolls around.
With that in mind, I would play this under down to 44.5.