Ohio State put forth its best effort of the season this past Saturday, albeit against a completely overmatched Akron team. Now the Buckeyes will face a Rutgers team that is much improved from recent versions and is fresh off giving Michigan a scare in the Big House. Will be the Buckeyes improvement continue or was last week just a mirage against a poor Akron squad?
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Ohio State must travel to a well-coached Greg Schiano Rutgers team. Defensively, Rutgers often uses a “stunt 4-3,” meaning that they tilt the nose guard at the center and shoot interio gaps, hoping to cause confusion to make up for a lack of size. Ohio State’s offensive line must work well in tandem and the Buckeyes should look to get the football outside with wide zone, quick toss, duo, and counter trey. The Buckeyes also need to take advantage of the openings that will be available downfield against Rutgers’ cover 1 and cover 2 looks with Chris Olave.
Offensively, Rutgers struggles to push the football downfield but heavily involves the quarterback in the power read and RPO game. The Ohio State defense has some momentum following the defensive scheme changes, but it will test how much the Buckeyes can keep Rutgers off balance and not get themselves caught in run-pass conflicts.
Ohio State 39 Rutgers 19
The Rutgers offense doesn’t really do anything special, so this will be a good test for the Ohio State defense to see if they’ve graduated to being able to hold Rutgers to where other defenses have held them. Temple held the Scarlet Knights to 365 yards, Michigan held them to 352, and Syracuse held them to 195. Surely, the Buckeyes can be in that same realm somewhere, right?
One possibility to watch is that Greg Schiano felt that Rutgers could win each of those games playing a conservative style of game. He likely doesn’t feel that way this week. Rutgers is going to need more points than normal, so they will have to be more aggressive. That will either work in the Knights’ favor or the Buckeyes.
Offensively for Ohio State, CJ Stroud should return and he’ll be back with something to prove to his doubters. Chris Olave has been quiet for too long, so it’s time to see him explode this week. I also don’t think Ryan Day can call TreVeyon Henderson’s number enough. Get the ball to your best players and then celebrate by kicking extra points.
The Buckeyes have too much talent and things are starting to fall into place. Just in time for Big Ten Football.
Ohio State 38 Rutgers 17
My claim to fame moving forward will be that I predicted before the 2021 season that Rutgers wouldn’t actually be so bad. Such a fearless take has been rewarded so far as the Scarlet Knights are coming in at 3-1 and gave Michigan all it could handle in the Big House last weekend.
While improved, there is still a large talent gap here and it will be interesting to see how Greg Schiano can get his team back up for Saturday afternoon’s tilt after such a pretty heart-breaking loss to Michigan where Schiano’s squad really seemed to leave it all on the field.
Ohio State’s defense has had major issues, but Rutgers’ offense might not be talented enough to fully exploit the Buckeyes and we know the Ohio State offense will put up points regardless of who is under center (and it looks like it will be Stroud). I think the Buckeyes find some success on the ground with TreVeyon Henderson continuing to get more and more comfortable and Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson each contribute a couple of big plays in the passing game. This will be closer than the fans would like as I think Rutgers will be able to regroup from last week’s disappointment in Ann Arbor and play hard, but Ohio State’s talent and depth will pull away in the second half.
Ohio State 38 Rutgers 20
376-75. That is the combined score of the seven games where Ohio State and Rutgers have played since the latter joined the Big Ten (and all-time). That is an average of about 54-11. Before scoring 48 points in the last two games, the Scarlet Knights had mustered just 27 total points in the first 5 contests, getting shutout in 2 and putting up just 3 points in another.
Gone are those days, though. Greg Schiano is back for his second stint with the program and via a culture change, strong recruiting, the transfer portal, and a strong coaching staff, the RU head man has his program competing week in and week out. Are the Knights ready to pull off the biggest win in school history, though?
That I am not sure of. But the good thing for Rutgers is that Ohio State is not the Ohio State we are used to seeing. The Buckeyes are breaking in a new quarterback, have all five linemen either new to the lineup or playing new positions, and have struggled on defense dating back to last year, forcing a mid-year change in defensive coordinator, scheme, and personnel in 2021. If there’s any time the dominant Big Ten power will be ripe for the picking, it’s now.
With all that said, while I think Rutgers is going to play their most competitive game against the Scarlet and Gray, I feel the “Jimmys and Joes will beat the Xs and Os”, as they say. I think RU plays Ohio State very tough for three quarters but gets worn down a bit in the final frame and the Buckeyes pull away in the end for a victory in SHI Stadium.
Ohio State 41 Rutgers 26
Rutgers may be feeling good about itself after taking Michigan to the wire and may be coming into this game with Ohio State with all the belief in the world that the 8th time is the charm in this series, a series that Ohio State has not only had the upper hand in, it is a series that Ohio State has completely owned.
Sure, Ohio State also had a 9-0 mark all-time against Oregon, and we saw what happened there. We don’t want to talk about that one.
That Oregon team had some dudes on it, and even though two of the biggest dudes did not play in the game, if Oregon and Rutgers played 100 times, how many times would Rutgers win?
The Buckeyes will never admit it but style points matter and while many Ohio State fans feel that every week is perilously close to a loss, this is still a team that controls its own destiny on almost every front and having a chance to play Rutgers the week after Michigan played them will give them an opportunity to show a lot of people where these two programs stand.
I am still not quite sure how Rutgers scored 61 points on Temple, but that is Temple, and we are not talking about basketball, many moons ago.
Rutgers does not have nearly enough offense to hang with Ohio State, even if Ohio State’s defense misses the last train east and gives up the season average of 23-plus points in this one.
As I said in Tale of the Tape, Noah Vedral has been quite average against non-FCS teams and Saturday will be no different. Take the Buckeyes and give the points, Buckeyes big.
Ohio State 45 Rutgers 13
Since the series of unfortunate events which led to Rutgers joining the Big Ten, Ohio State has rolled up a 348-27 total score against the Scarlet Knights before RU managed to put up some garbage time points. But this year’s Ohio State team isn’t quite what a lot of those previous ones were – at least not yet. And this year’s Rutgers team has come a long, long way since the Chris Ash era.
This is likely to be a deeply frustrating and unsatisfying game for the Buckeyes and their fans. Rutgers will try to dominate time of possession, slowly moving the ball down the field and converting a seemingly endless series of 3rd-and-2s. If the defense can get off the field without giving up a bunch of 8-10 play drives, it will be a very promising sign that some of the issues from earlier in the season have been fixed.
Ohio State still has a massive talent advantage and should be able to hit some big plays. The Scarlet Knights likely don’t have the skill position guys to challenge OSU downfield in the passing game, but even in a loss, they can make the game one Buckeye fans will want to forget.
Ohio State 38 Rutgers 24
This is not your father Rutgers team. Meaning, there’s some talent on that roster, and they play with incredible effort. Coach Schiano has done a great job with the program, and they’re trending in the right direction.
This is a big game for Ohio State. Can they ride the momentum built from the big win against Akron? If so, then this will be a fun game for Buckeye fans. C.J. Stroud has gotten a little more rest, Henderson and the running backs are finding their groove. On defense, can the defensive line replicate the same effort that they did against Akron? And can the youth continue to rise up and play at a high level?
I think the answer is yes.
Ohio State 42 Rutgers 17
Before the season, I figured going to Rutgers was going to be more difficult than it has been since the Scarlet Knights joined The B1G in 2014, but I never anticipated that this game was going to be a true dogfight as the calendar turns from September to October. Greg Schiano has moved Rutgers from the category of “perpetual doormat” to “scrappy and irritating”.
One of the concerns I have held with Ohio State in 2021 is that of false confidence. Yes, Ohio State looked better defensively versus Akron, but the ease with which the Zips were able to initially move the ball has me concerned against a better coached, more talented opponent in Rutgers, on the road.
I will be scrutinizing how effective Ohio State is defending Rutgers QB Noah Vedral on RPOs. I don’t know how Ohio State plans to attack Vedral, but I can only hope that the defensive coaches are well-prepared for what seems to be a staple of the Rutgers offense.
I also hope Coach Day will stick with the Ohio State running game, as I believe that is going to be essential in the second half. It does not matter to me if C.J. Stroud or Kyle McCord are at quarterback, as long as Ohio State is running the ball and burning the clock.
It will be tighter than Ohio State fans will expect, and I am sure Twitter and the BuckeyeScoop message board will be going crazy until the fourth quarter, when Ohio State grinds this one out for their fourth victory of the 2021 season. I have it Ohio State 35, Rutgers 21.
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In case of a tie, there will be a tie-breaker each week. This week’s tie-breaker: How many sacks will the Ohio State defense record against Rutgers?