The problem for Rutgers is not five Big Ten losses. The problem is how these losses happen.
Blowout after blowout and the losses only worsen as the season approaches its conclusion. Rutgers should be proud of its bowl eligibility with season expectations so low, but does that really matter as the losses pile up?
Instead of getting better as the season progresses, the Scarlet Knights look worse after each blowout. Rutgers was always going down but at least put up a fight.
“I don’t live in a world of frustration,” said head coach Kyle Flood. “I don’t ever allow that to enter who I am. For me, we’ll look at the film. We’ve got players who want to play better. They’re playing with tremendous effort. I’m really excited about that when it comes to this football team. This result today does not change how I feel about this football team.”
Flood may not live in a world of frustration, but it is approaching an all-time high in other parts of the program after another blowout loss. To center a post-game press conference on effort after trailing by 35 is a strange message to say the least.
“We coach the games to win,” Flood said on blowout losses. “We don’t coach the games to be close. Every week when we do the game plan, it’s to try to put the players in the best position to win 1-on-1s and try to use the matchups to be 1-0. We’ll do the same thing this week.”
Rutgers did not force a punt until drive No. 8. Those eight drives for Michigan State include missed tackles by nearly every starter and five straight touchdowns to close out the first half.
“It definitely does bother me,” said linebacker Quentin Gause. “We need to be better against the run, and we haven’t done that. It’s on my mind [that] this isn’t the Rutgers we want people to see.”
The top Big Ten teams barely took Rutgers (6-5, 2-5) seriously in blowouts this season. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer piled on with late fourth-down conversions in a homecoming blowout. Michigan State and Mark Dantonio ran a fake field goal to its place kicker with a 35-0 lead.
“It’s really disrespectful,” said receiver Leonte Carroo. “It gets you upset. When you see things like that it makes you want to go out there and say ‘wow, I wish I did more.’ We feel very disrespected at this point. But hey, that’s all on us. … If you really care about the situation and it really got you upset, you’ll really prove it to Maryland next week.”
Flood now has five blowout losses in three years. He has a winning overall record and three straight years of bowl games, but zero wins against top-25 teams in coach’s poll.