Another 78-0 Loss Coming? Rutgers Enters Its Michigan-Penn State-Michigan State Gauntlet

Nov 05, 2018 11:00 AM EST
  • Rutgers begins a three-game stretch against Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State on Saturday.
  • The Scarlet Knights are 3-13-1 against the spread against those three teams and Ohio State since joining the Big Ten.
  • They've been outscored 43-8 on average, failing to cover the spread by nearly two touchdowns per game.

Rutgers is bad. That’s certain. But the beauty of point spreads is that they make even the worst teams competitive. They make Rutgers bet-able — just not in this stretch of upcoming games.

Welcome back to hell, Rutgers.

Since joining the Big Ten in 2014, Rutgers has gotten obliterated by the East’s best teams, which the Scarlet Knights play every year — Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State.

Rutgers is a horrific 3-13-1 against the spread vs. those teams, according to our Bet Labs data, and has been outscored 43-8 on average.

The average spread in those games has been Rutgers +21, and if you take out 2014, before Michigan and Penn State returned to form, it’s +24. (Rutgers was even favored against Michigan in 2014; it won 26-24 but didn’t cover as a 2.5-point favorite. Why don’t we make fun of Michigan more for that?)

So what’s this got to do with 2018? Glad you asked. Rutgers begins a season-ending stretch on Saturday against Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. The Scarlet Knights already lost to Ohio State, 52-3, in September.

In many of these games, the defense somewhat held up its end of the bargain to cover these huge numbers. But the offense did not. In 2016, Rutgers got outscored 222-0 in these four games. Zero points! In four games!

The yards tell a similar story. Rutgers has been held under 220 yards in each of the past nine meetings, and has only held its opponent under 440 once (a rain-soaked, sloppy game against Penn State in 2016).

The most infamous effort was losing 78-0 to Michigan in 2016 and gaining fewer than one yard per play. The Wolverines team Rutgers will play on Saturday feels similar to that one.

This season, Rutgers is 1-8 but an adequate 4-5 against the spread. The Scarlet Knights have covered their past two games against Wisconsin and Northwestern.

But even when Rutgers has been fine ATS against the rest of its schedule, it’s been terrible against the Big Ten East’s best.

Is any of this predictive? Will Rutgers cover in any of its final three games?

I don’t know. But this is the worst team Rutgers has had over the past five years, per S&P+. The Scarlet Knights rank 126th of 130 FBS teams, and have never finished below 114th.

Penn State and Michigan State aren’t anything special this season, and Michigan is almost a 40-point favorite on Saturday, so there’s a chance at ATS redemption.

But do you want to put your hard-earned cash behind the Scarlet Knights in their annual ride through hell?

Credit:

Rick Ostenski-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Taco Charlton

Follow Steve Petrella on Twitter
@steve_petrella

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