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Iowa’s first Big Ten football game of 2022 probably will not be a scoring bonanza.
The over/under from Caesars Sportsbook for the Iowa-Rutgers game is 35.5. Both teams rely heavily on their defenses and special teams to make plays.
While Iowa is undoubtedly the favorite against a team that has lost its last 18 Big Ten home games, the Scarlet Knights present some intriguing matchups.
Here are five Rutgers players to watch.
P Adam Korsak
Tory Taylor won’t be the only high-profile punter on the field at SHI Stadium Saturday.
Rutgers’ Adam Korsak, like Taylor, came from Melbourne, Australia, and has made a significant impact as a Big Ten punter.
Korsak was a finalist for the 2021 Ray Guy Award and semifinalist in 2019. He earned second-team All-America recognition from the Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America and Walter Camp Foundation.
In his first year playing college football, he had a 79-yard punt against Northwestern that pinned the Wildcats at their own 5-yard line.
His 2022 punting average — 42.1 yards — is the lowest of his career, but he has five punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and no touchbacks. Seven of his 12 punts have resulted in fair catches.
WR/PR Aron Cruickshank
Rutgers’ passing attack has seen its ups and downs in 2022, but Aaron Cruickshank has been a reliable option at wide receiver.
Cruickshank has the team lead with 11 receptions and 101 receiving yards in 2022. No other Scarlet Knight has more than five receptions or 56 yards.
He was third on the team in receptions and receiving yards and second in touchdown receptions despite missing a significant chunk of the season with an injury.
The Brooklyn, N.Y., native has the potential to be a factor in the rushing game and on special teams.
In Rutgers’ season opener against Boston College, the 5-foot-10 receiver took three handoffs. One of them turned into a 26-yard touchdown run.
Cruickshank, the 2020 Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year, has taken all of Rutgers’ punt returns and one kick return in 2022.
He has been on the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, which goes to the most versatile player in college football, in 2021 and 2022.
Cruickshank transferred to Rutgers from Wisconsin after the 2019 season. He appeared in every game of the 2018 and 2019 seasons, but his role in Madison, Wis., was predominantly on special teams.
DB Max Melton
When Iowa played Rutgers in 2019, the Hawkeyes essentially shut down wide receiver Bo Melton — he had just one catch for 17 yards a week after recording 127 yards in the season opener.
Now, Bo’s brother Max Melton will have his chance to try to shut down Iowa’s receivers.
Melton is one of four Rutgers players to have an interception so far this season.
Melton is coming off a 2021 season with 10 starts and a 2020 season with six starts. He led the Scarlet Knights in interceptions in 2021 with three.
National college football writer Phil Steele included the Mays Landing, N.J., native on his preseason all-Big Ten third team.
RB Al-Shadee Salaam
Al-Shadee Salaam has been experiencing quite the start to his first college football season with game action.
After not playing at all in 2021, the 5-10 running back has led the Scarlet Knights with 137 yards
“When he touches the ball, we all kind of hold our breath,” Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano said earlier this season. “He has a different gear than people we have had around here. Al-Shadee is legitimately fast, fast.”
Kyle Monangai also could have a prominent role at running back for the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers’ running game may be especially important against Iowa because of the injuries at quarterback. Two of its quarterbacks, Noah Vedral and Gavin Wimsatt, will be game-time decisions, per NJ Advance Media.
DB Robert Longerbeam
After mostly coming in off the bench in 2021, Robert Longerbeam has left quite the impact in 2022 as a starter in the Scarlet Knights’ secondary.
He has a team-best two interceptions through three games. His two tackles for loss are tied for second-best on the Rutgers roster.
Other defensive backs to watch include fellow sophomore Shaquan Loyal and team captain Avery Young.