If your plan is to learn anything about Rutgers, this is not the time to do so. The glorified scrimmage is a chance for freshmen to ease into the season, kinks to get ironed out and the offense to gain some confidence. Rutgers played a MEAC team each of the last four seasons, and won all four by a combined 194-14 score.
Prediction: Rutgers 47, Norfolk State 0
Sept. 11 at Florida International          FIU Stadium          8 p.m.          SNY
Rutgers recruits Florida hard, and this is the first of two chances the families of its Sunshine State players will get a chance to see the Scarlet Knights in person. It should also be a happy reunion for Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano against former assistant Mario Cristobal. Coming off a 3-9 finish, the Panthers are expected to reside in the lower level of the Sun Belt.
Prediction: Rutgers 23, FIU 10
Sept. 25 vs. North Carolina          Rutgers Stadium          TBD          TBD
An interesting ACC-Big East matchup which could set the tenor for both teams for the rest of the season. Rutgers offensive line is a big unknown, and the Tar Heels bring one of the top defensive lines to Piscataway. But will the Tar Heels be distracted, or depleted, by the NCAA investigation? September games don't get much bigger for Rutgers these days.
Prediction: North Carolina 21, Rutgers 17
Oct. 2 vs. Tulane          Rutgers Stadium          TBD          TBD
The Green Wave are an upgrade in homecoming opponents, but have been a downtrodden program for many years. Fourth-year coach Bob Toledo is 9-27 at the New Orleans school, whose last appearance resulted in a 52-24 loss in 1998 during the woeful Terry Shea era. Rutgers has too much size, speed, coaching and talent for this not to send the alums home happy.
Prediction: Rutgers 34, Tulane 13
Oct. 8 vs. Connecticut          Rutgers Stadium           7:30 p.m.          ESPN
UConn is a trendy regional and national pick to contend for the Big East title, and the Huskies play a physical, grueling brand under coach Randy Edsall.The games are always close, including last season's 28-24 Rutgers win on the last-minute touchdown catch by Tim Brown. It's a Friday game, so the nation will be watching.
Prediction: Rutgers 23, UConn 20
Oct. 16 vs. Army          New Meadowlands Stadium          TBD          TBD
Rutgers is getting an additional $1.2 million to move its home game up the Turnpike. A $2.7 million guarantee goes beyond the $1.5 million the Scarlet Knights net for an on-campus game. Preparing for the triple-option is never fun and always brings the possibility of leg injuries along the defensive line, but at the end of the day the Black Knights don't have nearly enough talent to make this interesting for longer than a quarter.
Prediction: Rutgers 30, Army 10
Oct. 23 at Pittsburgh          Heinz Field          TBD          TBD
The Panthers were tabbed by the media to win the Big East title, gaining 22 of 24 first-place vots, but coach Dave Wannstedt always seems to lose a game or two that sends folks running for the head & shoulders shampoo (head scratcher). Dion Lewis is as complete a running back in the league, and will be a great matchup for the Rutgers defense. This should also be the Scarlet Knights' first true road test, and on a young offense, that could be a problem.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 28, Rutgers 20
Nov. 3. at South Florida          Raymond James Stadium          7 p.m.          ESPN2
A strange Wednesday night matchup sends the Scarlet Knights back to the Sunshine State to face a team they've had tremendous success against. However, Jim Levitt and his undisciplined style of coaching are gone, and former UConn and East Carolina coach Skip Holtz is in charge. Quarterback B.J. Daniels is big, fast and strong-armed, but Rutgers always seems to do well against the Bulls' mobile, accuracy-challenged pigskin slingers.
Prediction: Rutgers 27, South Florida 23
Nov. 13 vs. Syracuse          Rutgers Stadium          TBD          TBD
Rutgers fans circled this one about three quarters of the way through last season's 31-13 debacle in the Dome. The Orange are clearly better coached by Doug Marrone than when his predecessor, Greg Robinson, was in charge, but the physical talent remains an issue. All those blitz packages that confused Rutgers' offensive line were scouted during the offseason, so they won't work. Rutgers rise to prominence is related to Syracuse's decline.
Prediction: Rutgers 31, Syracuse 20
Nov. 20 at Cincinnati          Nippert Stadium          TBD          TBD
Can Butch Jones pick up where Brian Kelly left off? By now, that answer will be known. The Bearcats won the last four meetings, including the 47-15 blitz in the 2009 season opener. Rutgers has the defensive speed to keep pace with the potentially high-powered offense, but whether the Scarlet Knights will have developed a running game will be a key by this point. This is the third game in a four-game span Rutgers will be on the road.
Prediction: Cincinnati 24, Rutgers 20
Nov. 26 vs. Louisville          Rutgers Stadium          TBD          ESPN/ESPN2/ABC
What was once one of the league's most anticipated matchups has the chance to be a footnote of a game the day after Thanksgiving for the second straight year. The last time the Cardinals rolled into Piscataway, Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel threw seven touchdowns. A year ago, Mohamed Sanu imposed his will on Louisville in a 34-14 Rutgers win. The Cardinals talent is low, and their win total will match that.
Prediction: Rutgers 27, Louisville 13
Dec. 4 at West Virginia          Milan Puskar Stadium          TBD          ESPN/ESPN2/ABC
Might as well get the questions going now. Is the year the Scarlet Knights finally beat West Virginia? And do it in the place of the embarrassing 80-7 loss and painful triple-overtime Orange Bowl-costing defeat? The Mountaineers have speed at the skill positions and quarterback Geno Smith figures to be the next in line of standout dual-threat quarterbacks.
Prediction: West Virginia 23, Rutgers 17
Season total: 8-4 overall, 4-3 Big East