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Rutgers Betting Odds Preview

The Scarlet Knights have gone to a bowl three years in a row, winning 24 games over that span. But Rutgers takes a big step up in competition this year, moving from the American Athletic Conference to the Big Ten.

No more games against the likes of Connecticut, South Florida and Temple; instead, the Knights will now battle Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State on a regular basis. Are they ready to take on this tough duty? They do get most of last year's team back, including a senior quarterback, a nice pair of running backs and the whole offensive line, but if they're going to make some hay this season they'll have to do it early, because their first Big Ten slate is near-brutal.

Rutgers Odds to Win Big Ten: 200/1 at Bovada
Rutgers Odds to Win College Football Championship: 500/1 at Bovada
Rutgers Regular Season Win Total: 4 at Bovada

Rutgers opened last season with an overtime loss at a pretty good Fresno State, then won four in a row, with a come-from-behind victory over Arkansas and a win at SMU. The Knights then lost back-to-back games against Louisville and Houston, squeaked by Temple, but then lost three more in a row, a couple in non-competitive fashion. Rutgers became bowl-eligible with a win over South Florida in the regular-season finale, but lost to Notre Dame in the Pinstripe Bowl to finish 6-7 SU, 5-8 ATS.

The Knights are now 15-11 SU, 12-14 ATS in two seasons under head coach Kyle Flood.

This year Rutgers returns 16 starters, fourth-most in the conference and six more than last year. Nine starters return on offense, including senior QB Gary Nova, last year's top two rushers and the entire offensive line; and seven starters are back on defense, including six of last year's top seven tacklers.

With the step up in competition the Knights will play what Phil Steele ranks as the 19th-toughest schedule in the country this season. They kick things off with a cross-country trip to play Washington State in Seattle, later play at Ohio State, Nebraska and Michigan State, and host Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin. So the Nittany Lions replace SMU, the Wolverines replace Houston, the Buckeyes replace Temple, and down the line.

Rutgers just managed to become bowl-eligible last year; even with all the returning talent the Knights will have a problem finding six wins this season.

Big Ten Championship Odds at Bovada as of August 5

Ohio State 10/11
Michigan State 15/4
Wisconsin 9/2
Nebraska 11/2
Michigan 10/1
Iowa 12/1
Northwestern 40/1
Minnesota 66/1
Indiana 100/1
Maryland 100/1
Illinois 200/1
Rutgers 200/1
Purdue 300/1

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Heading into the final two games of the 2012 season Rutgers was 5-0 straight-up in Big East play and barreling its way towards a BCS bowl berth. Those plans were quickly derailed with back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Louisville that left it tied with the Cardinals as well as Cincinnati and Syracuse for a share of the conference title but on the outside looking in for a trip to the Sugar Bowl. A third-straight loss in the Russell Athletic Bowl to Virginia Tech left the Scarlet Knights 9-4 SU on the year.
Odds to Win AAC: 4/1 at Bovada
Regular Season Win Total: 7 at Bovada

Rutgers’ stay in the newly formed American Athletic Conference will be a short one after accepting an invitation to join the Big Ten starting in 2014. The Scarlet Knights would love to leave their mark as conference champions in their only season in the AAC and if everything falls into place they just might.

The first thing that Kyle Flood is going to have to do in his second season as head coach is get much better production from an offense that averaged just 21.5 points a game in 2012. It was equally as bad at passing and running the ball with less than 330 total yards a game. Gary Nova has the tools to be a decent quarterback at this level, but he has to improve his accuracy and do a better job taking care of the ball.

Fortunately the Scarlet Knights should once again be rock solid on defense with a number of starters back from last year’s squad that was ranked fourth in the nation in points allowed (14.2). Rutgers went 7-6 against the spread last season, but it was a great team to bet on the total line with nine of 12 games staying UNDER including the last five contests of the year.

AAC Championship Odds at Bovada as of August 8

Louisville 4/7
Cincinnati 4/1
Rutgers 4/1
UCF 15/2
SMU 25/1
Connecticut 33/1
South Florida 33/1
Houston 50/1
Memphis 66/1
Temple 75/1