Things have not gone well for Rutgers against Ohio State since the Scarlet Knights have joined the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes have won the three meetings by an average score of 54-8. The trending has been even worse for Rutgers, however. In 2014, the Scarlet Knights scored 17 points. In 2015, it was seven points. Last season, they didn’t score at all. The scoring margins have gone up each time, from 39 to 42 to 58.
There is no telling how big the margin will be this week.
Well, that’s not actually true. One of us has to get pretty close this week. Right?
Rutgers has struggled offensively for the better part of the century, and that will continue this week despite national television coverage and an electric atmosphere wherever it is that Rutgers calls home. Rutgers quarterback Kyle Bolin reminds me a bit of Penn State quarterback Trace McSorely as he does a nice job of buying time outside of the pocket and offers the occasional “YOLO” ball. The determining factor, however, will be whether the Buckeye defenders can remain disciplined and not fall for the traditional screen game Rutgers employs to counter pressure. I expect the secondary to have a multiple-interception game, namely Denzel Ward and Jordan Fuller, as Rutgers will be forced to throw more than they would like to.
As far as the Buckeyes go, look for the offense to continue to expand the passing game and attack the corners of Rutgers, primarily #22 to gain yardage, either by air or by penalty. The running game will be there as well so I would look for Dobbins and Weber (if healthy) to gash the Rutgers defense with outside runs before wearing down the interior linemen late in the 3rd Quarter. Marcus Baugh finally finds the end zone, while the offense passes for 330 collective yards with an additional 220 on the ground. Ohio State withstands an emotional start by Rutgers (14-7 1Q) to pull away and win convincingly.
Ohio State 52, 1869 National Champs 20
There is no doubt that Ohio State will come away with a big win from this game. The Buckeyes have always scored at least 49 points in each meeting with the Scarlet Knights and I don’t see that being any different this year. This matchup is only the second time for the Buckeyes playing at HighPoint Solutions Stadium, but I think Ohio State plays well on the road and they have everything in their favor.
Both teams are going to be making some changes due to coaching familiarity. Rutgers is led by former Buckeye Co-Defensive Coordinator Chris Ash, and the current Buckeye Defensive Coordinator Greg Schiano spent 11 seasons as the head coach at Rutgers before coming to Ohio State. Rutgers’ defense has allowed less than 300 yards per game so far, but I think that will change after this game. I am predicting a lot of big plays from the Buckeyes, especially from Mike Weber. I think he will have a great game and receive a lot of playing time this week.
I think we will see a dominant performance from the Buckeyes on both sides of the ball and this will be an easy game.
Ohio State 59, Rutgers 21
I am sort of buying into the hype that Urban Meyer is selling regarding the Rutgers defense. They held Washington and Nebraska to 30 and 27 points, respectively. That’s not nothing. I wasn’t very impressed with Ohio State’s running game last week, so I’ll be interested to see if they can get it going this week. Of course, last week they were just trying to get J.T. Barrett as many throws as they could before the game got out of hand. This one won’t get so lopsided so quickly.
I don’t expect Rutgers to have any success on offense. Their best chance to score will be a Janarion Grant kickoff return, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Will the Buckeyes even let him return a kick? I don’t think it is going to be easy for the Ohio State offense, but it will be good to see Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins working off of each other in this one. Ultimately, I think Barrett has a nice game and the running game shows a good mix. The Buckeye defense should make life a nightmare for the Rutgers offense.
Ohio State 45, Rutgers 0
Ohio State at Rutgers strikes me as the type of game that the Buckeyes can use as another tune-up, but this tune-up is coming in the fifth game of the 2017 season, not the first. Kinks are still evident, with the secondary having issues with coverage and penalties, while the deep passing game still needs to be developed. Ohio State has too much talent and depth for Rutgers to keep pace into the second half, and I do not see Urban Meyer wanting to run up the score on former Buckeye assistant Chris Ash.
Ohio State 56, Rutgers 17
Look, I’m not not saying that Rutgers is horrid offensively, but I think Ohio State may be okay on Saturday in New Jersey. The Scarlet Stealing Knights do have a few decent pieces at running back in seniors Gus Edwards and Robert Martin. Edwards is a graduate transfer from the Miami Hurricanes and Martin has started most of the past three years for Rutgers. At quarterback, they have Louisville transfer Kyle Bolin who is averaging 160 passing yards per game. The wide receiver position is just as bleak, especially if Janarion Grant is out like he was last week.
Defensively, yes Urban we know Rutgers is improved. I mean they gave up 38 points per game last year so there is only one real direction to go (unless you’re the Cornhuskers). How improved? I really don’t know because they have only faced two respectable teams (Washington and Nebraska) and they scored 30 and 27, respectively, on the “most improved defense”.
Ohio State should be able to do whatever they want on Saturday. I do not think Rutgers can stop OSU offensively and I’m about 99% sure the Rutgers offense won’t be able to move the ball on the starting Silver Bullet squad. I’m not going to make any promises on the freshmen squad when they take the field. Last year OSU won 58-0 and since Urban has convinced me he never over-exaggerates compliments, I’m going to buy into Rutgers being the most improved team defensively.
Ohio State 52, Rutgers 6
Simply put, Rutgers is not a good football team. When I say “not a good football team”, I mean that the media would be berating Ohio State for scheduling them if not for the conference affiliation.
This will be another easy Ohio State win on the scoreboard. But much like with UNLV, the determination of this being a win for the Buckeyes will be their continued development on both sides of the the ball. Can the defense continue to gel? How much pressure does the DLine get? Can J.T. Barrett show the improvement in his touch wasn’t just a fluke against UNLV? And the moment I’ve been waiting for all year: Can we get Mike Weber to be a part of the offense like we’ve all been expecting? Let’s be real, a J.K./Weber 1-1A punch should give you excitement feelings in places.
The only saving grace for Rutgers is the coaching staff. Urban tends to call off the dogs earlier on in-conference former assistants than he does for others. Expect a lot of 2nd/3rd team again.
OSU 52, Rutgers 13
When Urban Meyer praised the improvement in Rutgers’ defense this week, it wasn’t entirely coach-speak. The Scarlet Knights have, indeed, dramatically improved this season on both sides of the ball. The 2016 edition was basically a bad MAC team. That’s not hyperbole, either. They finished behind 5-7 Akron, 4-8 Bowling Green, and 3-9 Kent State in S&P+, ranking 114th out of 128 teams.
This year’s edition would rank 63rd based on season results alone, which basically makes them a good MAC team (Toledo is 58th). It also places them ahead of teams like Northwestern, UCLA, Nebraska, Texas A&M, and… wait for it… Florida State.
Yes, it’s early. Yes, there are a bunch of extenuating circumstances with FSU. Yes, three of those teams view those results as so disgraceful that they’re considering firing their coaches.
That doesn’t change the fact that this is not “losing 78-0 at home” Rutgers any more. They won’t beat Ohio State, and they won’t keep it close. But for the first time in a few years, there is a pulse in Piscataway.
Ohio State 38, Rutgers 10