The Scarlet Knights have done just about as best as they could have in the first half of the season. They won their first Big Ten game against a conference blue-blood, swept the non-conference slate, and were one play away from an undefeated record. 5-1 is nothing to sneeze at, and they need just one more win to get to a bowl in the inaugural B1G season. The media have taken notice, with most outlets pegging Rutgers sixth or seventh in the conference.
Of course, there's still skepticism. Skepticism because the Knights have yet to play the toughest part of the 2014 schedule. This week, they start that stretch in Columbus, Ohio to take on the red-hot Buckeyes. J.T. Barrett has taken a firm grasp on the starting position for Urban Meyer, and fans are even questioning whether Braxton Miller would be the incumbent when he returns from injury. If you want to test yourself against a premier team, there's no better option than against Ohio State in the Horseshoe.
Ohio State Buckeyes (4-1, 1-0 B1G) Last week: Bye; Two weeks ago: Won v. Maryland, 52-24
2013 Record: 12-2 (8-0 B1G)
Head Coach: Urban Meyer (132-26, 28-3 Ohio State)
Location: Columbus, OH
Series: First meeting
Saturday, October 18 - 3:30 PM
Channel: ABC (regional coverage) or ESPN2
Forecast: Overcast, 56 degrees at gametime, 0% chance of precipitation
Knowing your enemy: Ohio State Buckeyes - Looking back on what we expected from Ohio State in the preseason.
Big Ten Travel Guide: Columbus, OH - Traveling to Ohio for the game? We reached out to Matt Brown of Land-Grant Holy Land to find out what to expect for visitors rooting for Rutgers.
OSU opens as 19.5-point favorites - The Vegas oddsmakers don't seem to be sold on Rutgers making this one close.
A look at J.T. Barrett v. Maryland - The young quarterback has definitely taken big strides since the loss to Virginia Tech, and this incredible break down from LGHL gives a good summary of how he's improved.
An unwelcome bye week - The Buckeyes are coming off a bye week just like Rutgers, but Eleven Warriors writes that the bye is coming at an inopportune time considering how hot Ohio State was playing lately.
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That opening spread means that no one has any confidence in Rutgers going into the Horseshoe. The Scarlet Knights have often played well when the cards were stacked against them, but the Buckeyes could be just too much. Loads of talent and a multi-national championship head coach have enabled Ohio State to lose only three times in short tenure in Columbus.
At the very least, you want RU to be competitive. Blowout losses were too frequent last year, and Kyle Flood would do well to prevent something like that against one of the most elite programs in the entire nation. Keeping the game competitive is key, and it could give further proof that Flood is building something with a strong foundation in Piscataway.