After completing a big win against Penn State on Halloween, Ohio State returns home for another night game against 1-1 Rutgers. Every year, the game against Rutgers has been treated as an easy win and blowout, even looked at as a non-conference game due to the talent difference. However, this Rutgers team is not the same as years past. Week 1, Rutgers gained their first Big Ten win since 2017, which is insane. Even bigger, their victory was against a regularly tough Michigan State team. At first, the thought was that Michigan State is just in a rebuilding year after hiring a new coach, but the Spartans changed that narrative after beating Michigan as 21-point underdogs last week. Rutgers is still in the bottom-tier of the Big Ten, but they have a bright future ahead of them. For now, this game projects to be an easy win for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State has played Rutgers six times in the past six years, winning all of them by an average of 46.5 points. Last year was the closest matchup as Ohio State won 56-21 but were winning 35-7 at halftime. Even better, the Buckeyes gave up an average of only eight points per game in those six matchups. As you can see, this has been a very lopsided matchup and will continue to be one on Saturday.
The biggest storyline from this game is the former defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes under Urban Meyer, Greg Schiano, being the head coach for Rutgers. Ryan Day was also on the coaching staff with Schiano, making it a matchup among former coworkers. He formerly coached the Scarlet Knights and now hopes to turn their program around again. This year he is attempting to do with a plethora of transfers. The biggest of note is former Ohio State safety Brendon White, who won Defensive Player of the Game for OSU in the Rose Bowl in 2019 against Washington.
Even in a possible blowout, watch for the Buckeyes to continue trying to establish the run with Master Teague and Trey Sermon. On the contrary, I expect them to keep QB Justin Fields safe and minimize his rushing. As far as defense, watch for the corners, who struggled last week, to have a better game and improve their play. The Buckeyes will be without starting kicker, Blake Haubeil and cornerback Cameron Brown (who will be missed the rest of the season). Lastly, if all goes to plan with a possible blowout, look out for who goes in for Fields at the end of the game: Jack Miller or CJ Stroud.
Ohio State will face-off against Rutgers at 7:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. The home team Buckeyes are favored by 38 points.
Final Score Prediction: 54-17