Rutgers vs. Ohio State Preview

Date & Time: Saturday, October 18, 3:30 p.m. EST

Where: Ohio Stadium

TV: ABC regionally and ESPN2 outside the region. Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman and Todd McShay will be the announcers

Series Record: First ever meeting 0-0

Initial Thoughts

During the preseason if you would have told me the game between Rutgers and Ohio State this Saturday would feature two teams that are 5-1 and 4-1 respectively, I would have laughed at you. No way did I see the Buckeyes coming into this game with a loss, they have Braxton Miller and Urban Meyer as head coach who hadn’t lost a regular season game at OSU. Rutgers scheduled looked tough, starting off on the road at Washington State facing the Air raid assault, having to play Penn State and Michigan. Then there’s this thing that happens that makes every expert wrong and college football exciting, its called playing the game (minus the injury part of it all). I am not going to rehash anything from the Buckeyes season so far because your an OSU fan and you already know whats been going on right, right.

Lets discuss Rutgers

How many of you that first week stayed up late to see the Scarlet Knights play Washington State? Probably not a lot of you but I did and I came a way a little impressed. Yes they won the game but that wasn’t what impressed me. They played with grit, they played with attitude, they hit hard (Big Ten Hard Hitting). Rutgers should really be undefeated coming into Columbus Saturday but QB Gary Nova had a bad day against Penn State throwing 5 INT’s. Those 5 INT’s really weren’t all of Nova’s fault but still they had a shot at winning the game and I believe that a costly interception at the end lost it for them as like what happened for Ohio State against Virginia Tech. This isn’t the same Rutgers team that is the laughing stock of college football but honestly it isn’t a team that is right now that is ready to be competing for a National Championship. They are improved and have a ways to go but the Buckeyes seriously cannot take this game lightly or they will lose their first Big Ten game since 2011.

When Ohio State is on Offense

Scarletshirt freshman QB J.T. Barrett will have more of an open play book this week, as it continues to keep opening up for him every week. Barrett who leads the Big Ten in total offense has weapons galore (just to many to list and honestly you should already know them!!). The young QB has 14 touchdowns and 1 interception in the last 3 games, he will be facing a Scarlet Knight defense that is 96th in the nation in passing yards. Rutgers allows 261.7 yards per game by air which means Barrett and his receivers should be able to make plays. The running back group lead by Ezekiel Elliott will be licking their chops going against a rushing defense that is allowing 135 yards per game on the ground plus Curtis Samuel should be in the mix coming back from his injury.

When Rutgers is on Offense

The loss of RB Paul James for the season is a blow to Rutgers offense but the bye week should help them try to improve and help try to fix that issue. They only had like 74 yards rushing against Michigan. QB Gary Nova who is the first ever player of the week in three different conferences comes off the Michigan game looking like a Heisman type QB throwing for over 400 yards. Nova did however have 5 INT’s against Penn State which means his cage can be rattled. Nova has some nice targets in John Tsimis, Andrew Turzilli, Janarion Grant, Leonte Carroo, and TE Tyler Kroft. The Scarlet Knights run a Pro Style offense so it will be interesting to see how the Buckeyes defense handles it.

When Ohio State is on Defense

The Buckeyes defensive hasn’t been great this season. But they have been showing signs of improvement. Ohio State only has 12 sacks so far which is next to last in the Big Ten and 32 tackles for loss and that is tied for worst in the B1G. They need to do a better job at getting to Nova and disrupting him. The secondary as we know have had their issues but you did see progress from the Cincinnati game to the Maryland game. After giving up 3 big plays they only gave up one big play to Maryland. The young Buckeye defense did have 4 INT’s against the Terps so lets hope for more of that Saturday. I’m sure during the bye week Urban, Fickell, and Ash helped teach the players more so we will see more of an improvement this week. Keep everything in front of you and keep them out of the endzone and Rutgers goes home with a loss.

When Rutgers is on Defense

DT Darius Hamilton and DE Kemoko Turay and company will be bring the heat and creating havoc for Barrett and the Buckeyes offensive line. Rutgers is third in the nation and leads the Big Ten in sacks (24). Ohio State gives up a little over 2 sacks a game. Rutgers secondary is suspect but it was able to keep Washington State’s Air Raid from out scoring them and they were able to hold off Navy when it seemed the Midshipmen went to an all out air assault and were mounting a comeback only to fall short. I’m sure that the Scarlet Knights will be licking their chops hoping they will be able to get to Barrett with ease like Virginia Tech did so their secondary isn’t exposed.

Bottom Line:

This is a game the Buckeye need to again come out fast come out strong. The Scarlet Knights need to be overwhelmed by not just playing in the largest stadium they have ever set foot in, but they need to be basically kicked in the teeth and set on their seat to show them this is Ohio State football. They beat Michigan and maybe they have some swag from it and little bite of a puffed out chest thinking they really belong to hang with the big boys of the B1G. If the Buckeyes let Rutgers hang around its only going to help build up their confidence and that won’t be good for the Scarlet and Gray.