It was a surreal 2020 season for Rutgers football, dealing with the Big Ten’s late start and the coronavirus pandemic. But any time you can finish with a better record than Michigan and Michigan State, it’s a success.
Head coach Greg Schiano, in his second stint at the Piscataway-based school, immediately re-strengthened his foundation from his first go-around between 2001-2011. During his 10-year span, he led the Scarlet Knights to five straight bowl appearances between 2005-09, posting a 4-1 bowl record.
Last year, Rutgers (3-6) finished fifth in the Big Ten East Division with all three wins coming on the road (at Michigan State, at Purdue and at Maryland). Five of their last six games were decided by 16 points or less and four of those games, including three losses during that span of seven points or less. One of those was a thrilling 48-42 three-overtime loss at home to Michigan on Nov. 21.
“There is definitely a bright future ahead for Rutgers football. Without a spring practice and a true training camp, Schiano and his staff instilled a brand-new culture and those who stayed bought in completely,” said Chris Nalwasky, beat writer for TheKnightReport.net. “Rutgers broke a 21-game losing streak against Big Ten foes and had three wins in nine games in the conference-only season, and it almost had a few more.
”It had one-score losses in three other games. Because of the free year essentially, Rutgers got back a number of vital pieces to the puzzle, and the team should only be better in 2021.”
From the college football betting perspective nationally, many sportsbooks across the nation have not released their odds for the 2021 Big Ten season as of yet (we will keep you posted here when they do), but DraftKings has released National Championship Future odds, where Rutgers has been listed at +50000 to win it all.
As of now in the Garden State, you can’t wager at any of the Top NJ online sportsbooks on any collegiate sporting event held in the state, nor on any New Jersey college team or game. But that could change in 2021. State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D) introduced a bill in 2020 that would allow wagering on in-state college events and then he expanded it a few weeks later to include wagering on in-state college programs including football and college basketball betting.
New Jersey, host to many collegiate and tournament events, is home to eight NCAA Division I men’s and women’s college programs (Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, NJIT, Princeton, Rider, Rutgers, Saint Peter’s, Seton Hall), with Monmouth, Rutgers and Princeton fielding football teams.
Last November, the bill passed unanimously in the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, but it will still need approval before the full Senate and General Assembly, which likely will come at some point this year. It seems almost assured to pass with widespread support.
The bill would then place a constitutional amendment question on the state’s 2021 ballot.
New Jersey’s December sports betting handle finished just shy of $1 billion, but the state continued to set records.
The Garden State topped $900 million for the second straight month in total sports betting handle, hitting $996.3 million for December, a national record for handle.The total handle at New Jersey sportsbooks for 2020 was just over $6 billion ($6.017 billion), a 30.4% increase over 2019 ($4.6 billion). Of the total handle in 2020, $5.53 billion was wagered online — about 92%. Sports wagering revenue for 2020 was $398.5 million.
Rutgers opens its season at home vs. Temple on Sept. 4, followed by a road trip to Syracuse on Sept. 11.
“To be honest, I'm not even sure if the schedule right now will stick. Rutgers had three schedules last fall, and COVID-19 could change things again, but currently Rutgers has three out-of-conference games to start the year against Temple, Syracuse, and Delaware,” Nalwasky said. “Rutgers could very well start 3-0 and gain momentum heading into a road game against Michigan.
“Other key games include home games against Maryland after its bye week, an away game at Illinois, and a road contest against Penn State.”
Looking for its first bowl appearance in seven years, do the Scarlet Knights have what it takes to get there in 2021, Schiano’s second season since returning?
“I haven't completed my official way-too-early season prediction, but I'd say five wins including 2-7 in the Big Ten. There are winnable games that could go either way, though, and a year in the same system both offensively and defensively is huge,” Nalwasky said. “Rutgers can no doubt get to a bowl game, which is crazy considering where it was two years ago and it hasn't been to a bowl game since 2014.
”I don't think Rutgers will get to more than six wins if it gets that many. It needs to stay healthy and to develop its depth to have a shot. I'm not big at percentages, but I'll go 45% on them to make a bowl game this year.”