Players to Watch: Week 8 Ohio State-Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights of Rutgers pay their first visit to Ohio State on the Buckeyes homecoming weekend this Saturday. Entering Saturday’s game the Knights have an impressive 5-1 record after upsetting The Team Up North two weekends ago 26-24. The Scarlet Knights will look to improve to 2-1 in the first season in the Big Ten, but will face a stiff test from a Buckeye team that is looking to make a push for a spot in the AP top ten, and eventually work its way back in to the playoff picture. Lets take a look at a few players to watch in this Saturday’s match-up.


Kemoko Turay, Defensive End

Turay is a very unique player. He just started playing football his senior year of high school, was a relatively unheralded recruit coming out. Despite those two factors, in his redshirt freshman season he leads the Big Ten in sacks with 5 1/2. Turay also leads the nation in kicks blocked with 3.

Turay says that he models his game after his favorite player Jason Pierre-Paul. A very appropriate comparison since both are incredible athletes. If Turay had started playing football any earlier in his career, there is little doubt he would have received looks from larger programs. He stands at 6-5, 240 pounds, and although he is used situationally, he is still a handful to deal with.

Turay’s inexperience playing has led to coaches only using him in pass rushing situations, and also on kick block units. However, when Turay is on the field, very few players can match his athleticism.


Gary Nova, Quarterback

Nova has become the superstar on the Rutgers offense after his Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week game versus the Team up North, where Nova threw for four touchdowns. However, Nova is much more talented than just one game. The senior quarterback has put up solid performances in his last three outings and will look to improve upon his performances even more this Saturday.

Nova is a pure pocket passer with a pretty big arm. He has some mobility to get out of the pocket and make throws, but operates best from inside the pocket. Nova and his receivers will look to exploit Ohio States coverage with dink and dunk passes over the middle, and then take several shots deep downfield. Nova excels on the deep balls, and also fitting balls in to very tight windows, so the Buckeye defensive backs will have to be disciplined and aware because Nova’s throws will be on them quickly.

The knock on Nova is his poor decision making. He did have a five interception performance against Penn State and for a senior to perform like that generally means he is stuck in his ways. He will definitely try and force throws, especially if Rutgers find themselves down early. If he does, the Buckeyes should have a couple of opportunities at turnovers and turning Saturday’s match-up in to a blowout.

Ohio State

J.T. Barrett

Barrett could be in for a tough match-up Saturday. The Rutgers defensive line leads the Big Ten in sacks and Ohio State coaches have taken notice. The Knights like to rotate their lineman on third and long situations when they have a specialist package for pass rushing. They do not blitz heavily, except on third down. It will be important for Barrett to keep his offense on schedule, avoiding Rutgers specialist package as well as their creative blitz schemes.

If Barrett does manage the game well, like he has in the past three games, he could be in for another big day. The Rutgers defensive strength is in their front four. If the Buckeyes can neutralize that with a balanced attack then expect Barrett to see less blitzes and have more time to pick apart the Rutgers secondary Saturday.

Joey Bosa

This game is another where Bosa could cause absolute havoc. Even though he will be the focal point of the Rutgers offensive line, the Rutgers offense sets up perfectly for Bosa to have a good day regardless.

The Scarlet Knights do not have much of a run game, but they will try stubbornly to establish it. If they can not, and find themselves down early, then Nova will be asked to carry the team. That is where this Ohio State defensive line, especially Bosa, thrive. Pure drop back passer’s tend to have nightmare days versus the sophomore All-American. If Rutgers can’t manage to keep this defensive line from pinning its ears back then expect to see Bosa have another multi tackle for lass game, as well as maybe a sack or two.

However, it is worth mentioning, that since Bosa is the focal point of the Rutger’s offensive line he will likely see a couple of double teams thrown his way early. That should open up lanes for the likes of Michael Bennett, Adolphus Washington, and others to contribute. I expect Bosa’s impact to be felt later in the game, than right away.


  1. When I was looking at the stat comparison between these two teams, I was surprised how many sacks Rutgers has had thus far. I didn’t know the story behind it, but that is a cool story about Kemoko Turay.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: