PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers football got a much-needed 24-17 win over Indiana on Saturday afternoon. The win snapped a 21-game losing streak at home to Big Ten competition.
What stood out from the performance for Rutgers is that the Scarlet Knights did not give up despite going down 14-0 at the midpoint in the first quarter. But Rutgers found a way, battling back and riding a strong performance from freshman running back Samuel Brown to get the win.
Rutgers is now 4-3, with a bit of energy now after the bye week rejuvenating the program.
Check out five things that stood out from Rutgers football in their first Big Ten win of the season.
The Nunzio Offense
In the first game under interim offensive coordinator Nunzio Campanile, it looks like Rutgers abandoned the spread offense in favor of a pro-style offense. It certainly wasn’t sparkling or crisp, but at least the unit did a few things well. They didn’t abandon the run and Campanile kept feeding freshman running back Samuel Brown.
The play of Brown – 28 carries for 101 yards with a rushing touchdown – was huge in Rutgers controlling the clock.
It felt a bit dink-and-dunk at times but there was no quarterback carousel throwing off the rhythm of the offense (or the affected quarterbacks). Overall, a good first effort from Campanile in this role.
Samuel Brown is legit
The freshman running back has the chance to be the best backfield player for Rutgers since the era of Ray Rice. Physical and strong, Brown showcased a physical running style and the ability to power through tackles.
With Indiana stacking the box at times, Brown found it difficult to get to the secondd-level. But that didn’t start the freshman star from repeatedly carrying multiple Indiana players on his box for an extra yard.
A poor start
Before Rutgers football fans even got settled in their seats, the Scarlet Knights were down 7-0 with a 93-yard kickoff return from Jaylin Lucas putting Indiana up 7-0. Then on their next possession, the visitors marched down the field, going 91 yards on 11 plays as Hoosiers quarterback Connor Bazelak ran seven yards for the touchdown.
But, Rutgers bounced back big time and got themselves back into the game. They were down 14-7 at halftime and there was just a sense that the momentum was shifting in favor of the Scarlet Knights.
Snapping the Big Ten home losing streak
PISCATAWAY, NJ – OCTOBER 22: Christian Izien #0 and Desmond Igbinosun #4 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights celebrate after defeating the Indiana Hoosiers 24-17 in a college football game at SHI Stadium on October 22, 2022 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rutgers last won a Big Ten home game in the Johnson administration…Andrew Johnson that is.
OK, all kidding aside, it is meaningful for this program and the fan base to get back to winning games in the Big Ten at home. The Scarlet Knights needed this to keep their bowl hopes alive. It also helps erase the memory of this team losing to Nebraska 14-13 at home two weeks ago…in a game where they were up 13-0 at halftime.
Greg Schiano saw the importance of the win in his post-game press conference:
“I think it was what we went through two Friday nights ago. I mean, that was as hard a loss as I can remember. I’ve been in some big games and lost some big games and won some big games, but that really hurt. And it hurt the kids. It hurt the coaches.
“Then to be able to start out the way it did and be able to overcome that, you know, I think there’s guys downstairs that are starting to see what that means. Again, that’s all part of growing as a program.
“I told them after the game last week, we need to get better. It’s not complicated. We’re not good enough yet to win. I’ve got to coach better. You have to play better. We got better. It was, fortunately, good enough to win this week. Will it be good enough to win next week? We’re going to find out. I know we have to get better this week.
That’s really our goal. When you are building something, you just keep getting incrementally better, and we’ll keep doing that.”
Run Rutgers Run
Oct 22, 2022; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights running back Samuel Brown V (27) carries the ball asIndiana Hoosiers linebacker Bradley Jennings Jr. (5) pursues during the first half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
The Scarlet Knights had 192 rushing yards on 50 attempts, holding possession for 38:53 of the game.
It wasn’t a gimmicky offense, far from it. But it moved the ball well and effectively while eating up a lot of clock. Complimentary football, according to Schiano.
“I can’t lie. I do like to see when you can run the ball because in our league — now, today was a beautiful day, right? But we know the back half of your season in the Big Ten you’re going to have to be able to run the football,” Schiano said.
“There’s days that you can go out there, and it’s just prohibitive to throw it with the wind and the elements. So I am pleased. We’re far from where we need to be, but we’re much better than we were, so that’s kind of the journey.”