Rutgers right opponent at right time for Kansas

FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, file photo, Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Columbus, Ohio. Kansas will be trying for back-to-back wins for the first time since 2011 when the Jayhawks face Rutgers on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights will be trying for a bounce-back win after getting trounced by fourth-ranked Ohio State last week. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

The same sort of logic that made so many prognosticators overrate Texas coming into this season made a few of them paint way too optimistic a picture for Rutgers’ 2018 fortunes.

Second-year Texas coach Tom Herman received kudos for landing the nation’s third-ranked recruiting class. That’s nice, but what does that have to do with 2018? This isn’t basketball where a few McDonald’s All-Americans can carry the team to great heights. Rare is the true freshman (Pooka Williams) who can make a major impact, which brings us to Rutgers.

Pro-style quarterback Artur Sitkowski played his first three years of high school football at Old Bridge Academy in New Jersey and then transferred to IMG Academy in Florida for his senior season. He enrolled at Rutgers at the semester and participated in spring football. Sitkowski, now listed at 6-foot-5, 224 pounds, originally had committed to Miami (Fla.), but changed his mind and decided to play closer to home. Landing him was a big deal for Rutgers, which won three Big Ten games last season without strong quarterback play.

In time, Sitkowski very well could justify the excitement his recruitment generated, but that time isn’t likely to be any time soon. He has played three halves of college football. Sitkowski suffered a shoulder injury on a sack late in the first half of last week’s loss to Ohio State and didn’t play in the second half. Sitkowski completed 6 of 18 passes for 38 yards and threw an interception in a 52-3 road loss to the Buckeyes.

Obviously, Ohio State’s talent is so superior to that of either Rutgers or Kansas that drawing conclusions from those numbers doesn’t necessarily make for an accurate projection for how he’ll do for Saturday’s 11 a.m. kickoff at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

OK, but Kansas has better athletes on its experienced defense than does Texas State of the FCS, which Rutgers defeated, 35-7, in Week 1. Sitkowski completed 20 of 30 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown. Not bad, until considering he also threw three interceptions.

Third-year Rutgers coach Chris Ash said he expects Sitkowski will be available Saturday. Ash also could turn to redshirt junior Giovanni Rescigno has thrown seven touchdowns and seven interceptions during his career and has averaged 4.6 yards per attempt, completing 50.2 percent of his passes.

It’s a little premature to assume that because Rutgers landed a significant quarterback recruit it has a better offense than a year ago, when the Scarlet Knights finished 121st in scoring with an 18-point average (Kansas was 120th with 18.7).

Also, the Rutgers defense was weakened by multiple dismissals relating to eight players, some with remaining eligibility, others past players, being charged in a credit card fraud scam.

Kansas is favored vs. a Power Five opponent for the first time since 2009 for good reason. If KU doesn’t pick up its first two-game winning streak since the beginning of the 2011 season and snap a seven-game home losing streak, that won’t bode well for its chances of competing very often, even in a weakened Big 12.

Prediction: Kansas 24, Rutgers 13.


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