“At some point in an individual battle, the other guy says, ‘I don’t want to go anymore, I’ve had enough.’ The same thing with a team. At some point that team says, ‘No, wait a minute. That’s too much for us to handle.’ That’s called tapping out. We will never see this here. That’s a culture. That’s a mindset.” — Urban Meyer, 2012
Heading into his seventh season as Ohio State’s head coach, Urban Meyer has successfully implemented the desired culture and mindset in every aspect of the Ohio State football program. Competition throughout every position group reigns supreme, and the bluest of blue-chip recruits are on the way in the form of reinforcements.
Throughout the spring and summer, I want to review the upcoming 2018 Ohio State football opponents, using the theme of competition as the baseline. While Ohio State has had more challenging schedules in the past, there are several games on the schedule that could potentially trip the Buckeyes up and end their goal of repeating as B1G champions.
These articles will examine the 2018 opponents, from least concerning to most concerning, based on various factors that I will list in the respective articles. As always, I encourage interaction, either through the comments section below, or directly @ChipMinnich. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I look forward to writing them.
11. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-8 in 2017)
Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash is slowly and surely rebuilding the Rutgers Scarlet Knights into a competitive unit. Arriving in 2016, Rutgers went 2-10 under Ash, with Drew Mehringer as offensive coordinator. After 2016, Mehringer left Rutgers to join Tom Herman’s staff in Texas, so Ash went out and hired former Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill for the 2017 season. After going 4-8 in 2017, Kill resigned as offensive coordinator, so in comes new offensive coordinator John McNulty for 2018, and hopefully beyond.
McNulty is actually coming back for his second tour of duty on the Rutgers staff, having been an assistant for former Rutgers head coach/current Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, from 2004-2008. Look for Rutgers to try and get back to what made the Scarlet Knights formidable during the glory years of the Schiano era, and that would suggest a focus on running the ball.
As stated above, Ash made progress in his second year, with the Scarlet Knights winning four games. The most inexplicable loss came in week two to Eastern Michigan, (16-13 on 09/09/2017), and that oh-so-close-to-5-7 turned into a 4-8 record overall. Probably the best win of the season came against Purdue in week 7 (14-12 on 10/21/2017), as the Boilermakers were their lone win over a bowl team in 2017.
Why did I rank Rutgers as a game of low concern?
Quite simply, the talent differential between Rutgers and Ohio State is still quite substantial. Ohio State defeated Rutgers 58-0 in 2016, then handled them again in 2017 56-0. Math has never been my strong suit, but an average score of 57-0 in favor of Ohio State does not seem to be all that close. While Ash is improving the team, Ohio State has too much firepower for the Scarlet Knights to try and keep pace with the Buckeyes, especially in week two of the season.