The Buckeyes are back into league play after starting the year at Indiana for a rare opening week conference game. Urban Meyer's team will only see Big Ten foes the rest of the way for the regular season as his 3-1 Buckeyes look to do something that they have only done twice in Meyer's five full seasons in Columbus, get to the Big Ten Championship game in Indy.
The road to the conference championship game goes through Piscataway (N.J.) for a brief moment as Ohio State is on the road to face Rutgers, a team that is coached by a familiar face in Chris Ash. It has not been an easy road for Ash however as the Scarlet Knights have not gained much, if any, traction in the Big Ten since joining the league in terms of football and things are not getting any easier.
How do we see this game playing out on Saturday night? We make our picks for the upcoming game as the Buckeyes and Scarlet Knights meet under the lights in front of a Big Ten Network national audience.
Kevin Noon - Publisher
The Buckeyes are making steps towards fixing some of the glaring issues that plagued the team against Oklahoma in a top-5 tilt that left the Buckeyes searching for answers. This is probably not a good week to be the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. But in terms of football fortunes, that could be said for about 49 or 50 weeks of the year.
Rutgers at full strength will do just fine against the Morgan State's and Eastern Washington's of the world but last week proved that there is still a major divide between Rutgers and the rest of the league as they let a beleaguered Nebraska team off the mat.
The 2017 Ohio State offense is not where the 2016 offense was in terms of scoring points and the 2017 Ohio State defense is not where the 2016 defense was in terms of shutting people down. The game was 58-0 last year and that may be a little bit of a stretch this year, with a team that is still trying to find itself and in Rutgers' building. But it will still feel like the same kind of rout as the Buckeyes methodically pick apart a Scarlet Knights team that is just not ready for prime time. Ohio State 49 Rutgers 10
Marc Givler - Recruiting Analyst
While the opponents haven't been particularly strong the past couple of weeks, Ohio State seems to be finding an identity on offense and it will be interesting to see if that carries over to Saturday night's tilt against Rutgers, I think it will. The Buckeyes are in no position to get complacent at this point with the early season loss making every game a must win proposition. The week off should help Mike Weber and I expect us to get our first real glimpse at the 1-2 punch of Dobbins and Weber and for the passing game to continue to evolve within Kevin Wilson's philosophy. Ohio State 45 Rutgers 17
Ross Fulton - Team Analyst
Chris Ash's Rutgers' team presents Ohio State with a surprisingly solid defense (currently 23rd in S & P+). Ash's scheme will provide a good test for the direction of the Buckeye offense, as Ash will likely use a heavy amount of odd fronts, combined with edge slot defenders cheating towards the box. Watch for Kevin Wilson and Ohio State to continue to combine outside zone runs to J.K Dobbins with run-pass options. The Buckeyes may also seek to exploit soft corner coverage.
Unlike their defensive counterparts, the Rutgers offense has struggled. It will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator continues to mix cover 4 with cover 1. The Rutgers defense may be able to slow Ohio State some early, but eventually the Buckeyes will be able to pull away as Ohio State flips the field. Ohio State 42 Rutgers 13
Kirk Barton - Staff Writer/Former Captain
The Greg Schiano Bowl is going to be an interesting step up in competition for the Bucks. Rutgers has clearly inferior talent across the board, but is much better than UNLV and has the added advantage of having Chris Ash at the helm. After a rough first year on offense, they switched to Jerry Kill at OC and his more power-based scheme. Even still, they went from being a dumpster fire on offense to just being a burnt dumpster. Still, doesn’t look good or smell good.
Offensively, last week was a step in the right direction. The game played out perfectly in that the 1’s were productive and the 2’s could get some game experience when the bullets were flying. JT Barrett has to continue to grow his confidence levels and keep the arrow pointing up en route to Penn State. JK Dobbins and Mike Weber will likely have a 70/30 split in work, which is beneficial for the long-term stretch run. The key to beating Penn State will be the continued development of the throwing game, and Parris Campbell needs to keep ascending into our go-to playmaker.
Defensively, We must continue to see development from our back seven. Noted bowl practice star Tuf Borland has earned significant playing time by really producing in Chris Worley’s absence and is really getting love from Coach Meyer during his press conferences. The tea leaves say that means he may be the new starter at Mike linebacker. The weakest part to Rutgers’ team is their offensive line, which is great news for our defensive line. I look for Nick Bosa and Tyquan Lewis to stuff the stat sheet versus a non-mobile quarterback in less of a hurry-up offense. Ohio State 49 Rutgers 14
Colin Gay - Staff Writer
There is no doubt about it. Rutgers is an improved football team.
Despite winning only one game this season, a 65-0 win over Morgan State, the Scarlet Knights have played good teams close. In the season opener against No. 8 Washington, the Scarlet Knights only allowed the Huskies to record 30 points and 368 yards, both season lows up to this point of the season.
Even last week, in the first Big Ten game of the season against Nebraska, Rutgers lost only by 10, recording two interceptions in the contest, including one returned for a touchdown.
It's the Scarlet Knight rush defense that Ohio State will have to look out for Saturday night. Rutgers has allowed only one touchdown on the ground all season, allowing opposing backs to rush for only 3.3 yards per rush.
However, last week may be a sign of things to come, as the Scarlet Knights gave up a season-high 197 rushing yards to the Cornhuskers, giving up the first score on the ground.
The Scarlet Knight ground game, led by Gus Edwards, has been decent as well. Averaging 4.4 yards per rush, Rutgers has nine of their 13 total touchdowns scored on the ground.
These are just examples that Rutgers is not a team to be messed with. Ohio State should not have any trouble with the Scarlet Knights Saturday night, but, going into a night game on the road in New Jersey, anything can happen.
Despite all of that, with the No. 1 offense in the Big Ten, this game should not be an issue for the Buckeyes. Ohio State 45 Rutgers 14
Nick McWilliams - Staff Writer
Rutgers week, more frequently than not, is a write-off part of the season for Buckeyes fans. But, Ohio State frequently treats it as way more than a tune-up game for the rest of the Big Ten.
Sure, the Scarlet Knights' leading rusher has just seven less carries than Ohio State's J.K. Dobbins, but has been outgained by 261 yards, while their leading receiver (Jerome Washington) has less than half the receiving yards of Buckeyes' leader Parris Campbell. But offense is not where Rutgers has been succeeding this season.
The Scarlet Knights are allowing just 18.2 points per game to opponents, and frustrated the likes one of last year's Heisman frontrunners, Jake Browning. J.T. Barrett has had success against two lackluster secondaries, but Rutgers will be a test for him.
Even after losing three starters on the defensive front, Rutgers has still managed to find success in stopping the run. Coming in with 17 tackles for loss on defense, the Scarlet Knights have only managed three sacks so far this season.
On paper, the matchup is intriguing. Although lacking offensive firepower, Rutgers defense has shown a capability to stick with stiff competition, and even contend. But, taking a deeper look into the numbers, and one will see that in the last few competitions, even when things are tight between Rutgers and Ohio State at halftime, the Buckeyes win big.
I expect Ohio State's defense to make quarterback Kyle Bolin uncomfortable, and the offense to systematically pick apart a defense that has surprised many in it's early-season performance. No matter how you slice it, it will take nothing short of a miracle for this upset to happen, even with some impressive numbers so far by Rutgers.
But I think it will be closer than anticipated.
Ohio State 37 Rutgers 17
NevadaBuck - Bringer of Nuggets
Some interesting subplots emerging in this week's game. The most notable being Greg Schiano's return to the scene of his greatest triumphs. Rutgers seems to be on a little uptick this year after years of wallowing in despair. Unfortunately, they are getting an Ohio State team that is starting to round into shape---and that should make for a long evening for the Scarlet Knights.
Offensively you are starting to see things click. QB's and WR's are getting on the same page--and you are even seeing the tight ends make an appearance. Mike Weber has finally been cleared to be "full go" this weekend and I expect that he will remind the OSU faithful what he brings to the offense. OSU will continue to work on the passing game--even in the red zone--as in a lot of ways games like this are controlled scrimmages to be able to see what works and what doesn't prior to the big showdowns coming up on the schedule.
Defensively Rutgers will struggle to move the ball against an OSU front four that should control both the passing and running game. Getting turnovers has been stressed this week in practice and in film study, so I would look for a few big plays on that side of the ball--as Rutgers QB can be baited into tossing it up.
This one may stay close for a quarter as the OSU machine gets started up--but I would expect the outcome to never be in doubt, and a lopsided score in the end.
I've got Ohio State 49 Rutgers 14
Doug DiLillo - Social Media
It is always the most fun you will have on the Big Ten schedule when you look across the field and see Rutgers. This year, however, Rutgers might not be the typical beat down everyone is accustomed to when facing the Scarlet Knights. Chris Ash seems to have them moving in a better direction, although that wasn’t very hard to do. Hopefully, this is another game where OSU continues to click in the passing game.
On offense, OSU will face a better opponent statistically. Rutgers is giving up only 18.3 points per game thus far and only 179.5 passing yards per game. This won’t be a tell-all for OSU’s pass offense, but it will certainly tell us more than the UNLV game did last week where OSU looked prolific through the air. This game might be controlled on the ground though. If Weber is FINALLY ready to go and with the emergence of JK Dobbins, this might be the week we see OSU’s two-headed monster on the ground. Won’t be surprised to see OSU continue to work on the passing game, as they should.
Defensively, OSU should have Rutger’s number. Not a good offense, ranking well outside the top 100 in college football and their strength would be considered the run game. OSU will have a good day defensively against Rutgers, who can’t pass. Also, expect more turnovers in this game against OSU, Kyle Bolin likes to find the other team for INTs more than his own for touchdowns. Ohio State 48 Rutgers 10
Fake Urban Meyer - @FakeUrban
Our second of five straight bye weeks takes place when my team travels to New Jersey to play Stupid Rutgers.
The Scarlet (ahem) Knights are better than last week's bye week opponent UNLV. They're not as good as next week's bye week opponent Maryland and they've already lost to our bye week opponent in two weeks, Nebraska. They've made strides on the defensive side of the ball, but offensively this team looks like a bunch of guys who told they could leave the lacrosse or field hockey team because they'd have a chance of starting on their football team.
You'll see another blowout this week along with another chance of seeing our second and third team players. I'll upset a lot of you fans when I put in Joe Burrow first, in relief of J.T. Barrett. Then you'll see that Haskins kid play.
This is another low-stress game for you, the fan. As a man of the people, this baby will be wrapped up five minutes to go in the second quarter. Ohio State 47 Stupid Rutgers 6