Rutgers football vs. Texas State: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score
Scarlett Knights host Bobcats in season opener
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers will attempt to move on from a rocky preseason when it takes on visiting Texas State on Saturday in the season opener for both teams. Less than two weeks before the start of the year, the Scarlet Knights saw eight players - all from the defensive side of the ball - charged for their alleged involvement in a credit-card fraud scheme.
TV: Noon ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Rutgers -16.5
"Any time you have members of your family make poor decisions and get into trouble, it's discouraging, it's frustrating and it hurts," third-year head coach Chris Ash recently told reporters.
Several of the players were projected to be backups on the defensive side of the ball, while junior safety K.J. Gray - who was included in the charges but had already been dismissed from the team - was a likely starter for a team that ranked 13th in the Big Ten in total defense in conference play last year. Saturday's tilt is a warmup for a much more challenging affair for the Scarlet Knights, who next visit No. 3 Ohio State - a 56-0 winner at Rutgers in 2017.
The Bobcats of the Sun Belt Conference are 7-29 over the past three seasons but were one of the nation's youngest teams in 2017 and have generated some notable recruiting classes under third-year head coach Everett Withers.
ABOUT TEXAS STATE (2017: 2-10)
Withers inherited a stripped-down program that has been built back up and finally has the feel of a complete product, sporting 76 scholarship players two years after fielding just 62.
"Anytime you have more depth at a position, it creates more competition so players are competing at a higher level," Withers recently told reporters. "It makes your football team better and if that happens at each of the positions, it gives you a chance to go compete against your opponents."
Willie Jones III is the only quarterback on the roster with any experience and figures to get most of the snaps, while junior Anthony Taylor (team-high 436 rushing yards last year) is expected to lead the way on the ground.
ABOUT RUTGERS (2017: 4-8)
True freshman Artur Sitkowski won the starting quarterback job over two others - including incumbent Gio Rescigno - and will be the first first-year player to start under center for the program since 2001.
"We feel really good about what we're going to do at the quarterback position," Ash told the media. "We feel really confident about [Sitkowski]."
The most notable recruit of the Ash era, the 6-6 Sitkowski hopes to elevate a passing offense that ranked 124th nationally with just 115.6 yards per game in 2017.
1. Sitkowski threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns in the annual spring game in April.
2. Scarlet Knights RB Raheem Blackshear averaged 6.1 yards per carry and 19 yards per reception as a freshman last season.
3. This marks the first meeting between the two programs.
PREDICTION: Rutgers 35, Texas State 18
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