There is no denying that the Rutgers fan base is holding it’s collective breath ahead of this game. Ohio State has beaten Rutgers by an average of 48 points the past three seasons. With an offense struggling to score points and a defense entering the game without their best player, as Blessuan Austin is out for the season with a torn ACL, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned. Moral victories are never the goal, but if Rutgers can close the gap on margin of defeat in this contest, it could actually breed some optimism from this game. Here is what our contributors think will happen in Saturday night’s matchup between the Buckeyes and Scarlet Knights.
Dave White: Rutgers is coming home and is probably fired up for this match-up. Saturday night, under the lights against a powerhouse. People will be watching. I expect Rutgers to want to compete. I expect them to try and score on their first possession and then hang in there against the Buckeyes for as long as possible with ball control. The problem is OSU has so much talent and can score so quickly that if Rutgers can't move the ball, they're going to be in trouble. This one isn't going to be pretty, I don't think. Hopefully, Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano decide to take it easy on Chris Ash and Rutgers, but even taking it easy might be a problem. Ohio State 49 Rutgers 10
David Anderson: In these night games against top tier opponents the last three seasons, Rutgers defense came out pumped. The last two seasons, Rutgers held OSU to a combined 13 points in first quarters. So expect Urban Meyer to have a better plan to start this game than the past two match-ups. When looking at potential upset alerts, the underdog has a chance if their strength is the powerhouse’s weakness. Unfortunately for RU, the Buckeyes defensive kryptonite is their corners, not an area RU is expected to exploit based on Scarlet Knight wide receivers lack of productivity thus far. Rutgers defense is vastly improved, but will run out of gas yet again as the Knight offense continues to stall in the middle quarters. Don’t be discouraged by the score of this game itself. Ohio State 45 Rutgers 10
TJ Jurkiewicz: Last week, Rutgers performed admirably on the road against a struggling Nebraska team until the team lost a lot of their momentum in the late second half. The loss of starting CB Blessaun Austin is a huge blow to the improved defensive unit and it has me greatly concerned for this game with Ohio State. The Buckeyes are on a mission to run the table and be in the discussion for the College Football Playoff at years end so they’re going to be looking for style points in Piscataway on Saturday night. Ohio State has beaten Rutgers 58-0 and 49-7 in the past two seasons and it probably won’t be much different this year even though Rutgers has improved a good deal. The Scarlet Knights have scored 14, 13, and 17 points versus FBS opponents this season and I can’t see the story being any different on Saturday night. Ohio State 45 Rutgers 10
Cara Sanfilippo: I don’t even want to make this prediction. It has been a rough week following the Scarlet Knight’s loss to Nebraska. I agree with the Davids’ in that Rutgers will want to put out a good showing, and that Meyer and Schiano have ties to Rutgers that will make this less of a blowout. However, there is no educated part of my mind that thinks this will be a close game. That is more due to the poor offensive production against competitive teams in last 4 games than the defense being able to keep us in the game at least through the half. Can we put Gio Rescigno back in at QB with Lewis playing a supporting role? I don’t see where Bolin has proven he can compete, and we need a more productive option at this position. As David A. mentions in terms of the score, this is a game where I just want to see an improvement from last year. Ohio State 42 Rutgers 13
Bob Cancro: As I sit at my computer, Aaron standing next to me pointing a gun at my head, I continue to ask “why”. Why don’t we win more? Why isn’t Nick Saban our coach? Why am I only 5’6”? Never mind. Weapons galore and likely a good traveling crowd will be coming in from Columbus. But Rutgers still has talented kids, just not enough of them. And therein lies the biggest issue for the Knights. You can’t lose a Blessaun Austin or a Janarion Grant and not feel it. For OSU and others, such losses are a blip; next man up. Rutgers will still play hard, still fight hard. I agree that Rutgers needs to make a statement early; if nothing else, it needs to score and force a couple of three and outs. Kill will keep it close to the vest, although I do wish he’d open up a bit more. And get Lewis in! Please, Jerry, play the kid so that next year he knows what to expect at the ‘Shoe. Ohio State 42 Rutgers 13
Jim Hoffman: Every job has its perks, as well as its pitfalls. One of the worst pitfalls in this job is having to make a prediction for Ohio State v Rutgers each year. This is their fourth meeting, and I don’t expect it to be better this year, either. So far, Rutgers has been out-scored 163-24, and this year will make that lopsided result tally worse. That’s the bad news. Now to the good news: I expect the margin to be smaller, and I expect Rutgers to be able to hold the Buckeyes to fewer points than they have since their entry into the conference. Baby steps perhaps, but important ones. Offensively, I expect more points than they have managed in the past two years, but not by a lot. Ohio State is too big, too strong, and a defense that is about as good as it gets. The best news is I don’t have to do this again for another year! Ohio State 38 Rutgers 10
RutgersNation: Making predictions when your team is 30 point underdogs is tough, but its part of the job and somebody has to do it. Do I think the Scarlet Knights will win? No, but I think they will keep it closer than last years 58-0 drubbing. Yes the Buckeyes have a very high octane offense including quarterback J.T. Barrett, running back J.K. Dobbins, wide receiver Parris Campbell, et. al., but the Rutgers defense has shown it is much improved. Currently the Scarlet Knights are ranked 6th in the conference in total defense, allowing 298.3 yards per game. This is improved from last year's dead last finish in which we allowed 450.7 yards per game. Even Urban Meyer has taken notice calling Rutgers the most improved defense in the country. Offensively I expect to see more of the same, that is a run heavy offense in an effort to control the tempo of the game. I am hopeful that Jerry Kill calls a more aggressive game leading to a few scores, but ultimately the Knights will have a difficult time keeping this close. Ohio State 45 Rutgers 13.
Patrick Mella: Rutgers fans let’s pump the breaks and put this game into perspective. If you’re watching this week expecting a win then you should probably find something else to do. But if you’re at all interested in the future of this program, you should give it a watch. I’ve officially resigned from the Bolin Fan Club. He’s been nothing short of a class act all the way but he simply is not a starting quarterback in the Big Ten. Realistically, he’s a guy who could come in as a backup, manage the game and that’s about it. And while I would not start Lewis, he does need to see significant time (at least a quarter or two) for this to be considered a productive outing. This isn’t throwing Lewis to the wolves, but rather giving him an opportunity to get his feet wet and not really caring about the final score.
Talk about getting kicked when you’re down. The Austin injury was the icing on the cake to what has been a very disappointing season so far. Austin was shaping up to be the next graduate of DB-U but injuries are part of the game and I’m hoping he will get a medical redshirt like Grant a year ago.
On a final note, the last time Rutgers has played a team on the talent level of Ohio State was week one against Washington where they actually played their best game of the season, in my opinion. But I won’t kid you this game is not going to end in Rutgers’ favor. OSU will take this game by a wide margin but that doesn’t mean progress can’t be made. Turning this program around is a marathon not a sprint. Ohio State 52 Rutgers 7
Mike Voza: Back over the summer I would a predicted a Buckeye blow out and probably would not even bother to watch. (I won’t see it live since I will be attending a wedding in Delaware) I am reserving the right to go on record and say I believe the Knight will be very competitive in this Big 10 (14 schools) clash that will be televised on the Big Ten Network. I can throw useless statistics at you to give the RU fan base hope but I am not a big believer in college game statistics because so many non-conference games are not competitive. Stats from conference games only are a much better barometer but college teams will change drastically during the season.
The main reason why I think Rutgers can be competitive and keep the game reasonably close is that I have been very impressed with the Scarlet Knight run defense. The second reason is that I am very unimpressed with Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett. I still think the Buckeyes will win the Big Ten and reach the College Playoff, but I don’t see Barrett leading his team to any playoff wins.
If the Rutgers offense can avoid turnovers and the defense can prevent big play TD’s or special team scores, this game will be a lot closer than any final score will indicate. I think Ohio State’s depth will eventually wear out a much thinner roster of the Knights but I see Rutgers giving them all they can handle for the first half.
I agree with the game line being floated by the City in the Desert, but I see the Red team from the East Coast not the Midwest cashing their tickets. Ohio State 34 Rutgers 10
David Brown: As I wrote in my opponent player to watch article, I really became instantly pessimistic. J.T. Barrett is probably the best QB in the B1G and the most experienced. He has thrown only one interception this season, which is incredible. As I said in the article, he's in the "seen it all" business when it comes to college football. He played in close games, blowouts, overtimes, rivalry games, and B1G championships. He's in his 5th year and knows the challenges of the B1G and win in different ways. Also, you can't discount OSU defense, who are ruthless between the tackles.
Rutgers will have a hard time in this game. Losing Blessaun Austin due to an ACL tear on defense was huge. Blessaun Austin was the spark plug on defense that changes the game with one play. Kiy Hester and Isaiah Wharton must step their game up and expect passes thrown a lot due to losing Austin.
I will be one hundred percent honest. I have a premonition that this game will get very, very ugly. Last year, Rutgers put up a goose egg against Ohio State. I won't expect a shut out but I will expect a blowout. Rutgers' offense is stagnant and doesn't possess enough firepower to go toe to toe against the Buckeyes. Maybe Rutgers can make me look foolish on Saturday and pull an upset but I don't see it happening. My other prediction will be QB Johnathan Lewis will play significant time and may play for the rest of the season. Ohio State 49 Rutgers 10
Aaron Breitman: This game is certainly one in which it’s a case of how bad will it be versus so you’re telling me there is a chance. However, I’m actually excited to see how the Rutgers defense performs against the most dynamic offense they’ll likely face this season. Yes, it could get ugly, but it also could be a confidence builder for the rest of the season. The past results against the Buckeyes have been painful, but I’m hopeful the defense will play the best it has this season in this game. I’d also like to publicly thank all of our contributors who made a prediction for this game, as it’s certainly not near the top of the reasons they enjoy writing for the site. The margin of defeat in this game is very important to this team’s development and perception in terms of progress being made. In terms of the result, I think the defense plays better than expected and this program takes that positive into the bye week to prepare for a winnable game at Illinois in two weeks. Ohio State 31 Rutgers 6
What do you think will happen in this game? Make your own predictions in the comment section!