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Rutgers Football Game #10 Preview v no. 2 Ohio State

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National title favorites come to the banks this weekend, possibly opposite their former defensive coordinator.

Rutgers v Ohio State
Last year at the Horseshoe, RU failed to reach the endzone.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

How To Watch, Stream & Listen

#2 Ohio State (9-0; 6-0) At Rutgers (2-7; 0-6)

Where: SHI Stadium, Piscataway, NJ

Kick-off: Saturday, November 16 at 3:30 p.m. EST

Weather: 38 degrees, mostly sunny with a 1% chance of rain, 9 mph winds

TV: BTN with Brandon Gaudin (play-by-play), James Laurinaitis (analyst) and Elise Menaker (reporter)

Stream: FOX Sports App

Radio: Rutgers IMG Sports Network with Chris Carlin, Eric LeGrand, Ray Lucas, and Anthony Fucilli - Rutgers IMG Sports Network: WCTC 1450-AM, WOR 710-AM, WENJ 97.3-FM, WNJE 920-AM, Sirius 111, XM 196. (WRSU 88.7-FM)

Current Spread: Ohio State -52

Against The Spread: Rutgers 2-7; Ohio State 8-1

Series History: Ohio State leads 5-0, with all five meeting happening since Rutgers joined the Big Ten.

SB Nation Ohio State site: Land-Grant Holy Land

Ohio State Statistical Leaders

Passing: Justin Fields - 144 for 211 pass attempts, 68.2%, 1859 yards, 27 TD, 1 INT; Chris Chugunov - 20 for 27 pass attempts, 74.1%, 214 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT;

Rushing: J.K. Dobbins - 1200 yards on 166 attempts, 7.2 ypc, 11 TD; Master Teague - 699 yards on 104 attempts, 6.7 ypc, 4 TD; Marcus Crowley - 237 yards on 25 attempts, 9.5 ypc, 1 TD;

Receiving: K.J. Hill - 34 catches for 361 yards, 10.6 ypc, 5 TD; Chris Olave - 32 catches for 445 yards, 13.9 ypc, 9 TD; Binjimen Victor - 22 catches for 391 yards, 17.8 ypc, 4 TD; Garrett Wilson - 18 catches for 216 yards, 12.0 ypc, 4 TD;

Defense: Malik Harrison - 46 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries; Jordan Fuller - 43 tackles, 0 TFL, 0 sacks, 2 INT, 1 pass defended; Pete Werner - 35 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 2 fumble recoveries

Kicking: Blake Haubeil - 59 for 59 PAT’s, 8 for 10 FG attempts, Long of 55 yards

Ohio State Statistical Comparison Versus Rutgers

S&P+ Advanced Stats Profiles: Ohio State | Rutgers

What To Watch For

Pacheco watch

At the risk of annoying the few loyal Rutgers Football fans still left with the audio on the page load, I could not help but feel the way John Rambo did when asked if he had any suggestions to get out of a sticky situation with the Soviets in Rambo III. There really is no good plan for this game.

Even with their best offensive player back on the field, Rutgers will not beat Ohio State. The Pacheco watch returns after he sat out the Illinois game and perhaps that will move the sticks a few more times in this contest and add to a Isaih’s reasonable rushing yardage total (541 yards) in 2019, all things considered. Avery Young and Kay’Ron Adams have shown some talent, but also their limitations against the Illini. They don’t have the vision or the patience that Pacheco has developed in his almost two years at the running back position.

The offensive line for Rutgers faces the best front they will all year. The Knights’ hog-mollies failed their best previous test against Michigan, but with the new scheme installed since, maybe can use one of Ohio State’s two “weaknesses” the past two years (overpursuit) against them. Against Liberty and Illinois it wasn’t just the physical driving defenders back at times, but solid assignments to block the correct defenders. We need to see more of that or tackles in the Knights’ backfield will pile up quickly.

McLane Carter. Art Sitkowski. John McNulty. Nunzio Campanile / Johnny Langan watch

Interim Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Nunzio Campanile faces an opponent loaded with five and at worst, four star talent, so he’ll take any luck he can get. The Rutgers offense he put in prior to week five of the 2019 is very basic and relies heavily on confusion on the part of the defense. Unfortunately, Ohio State boasts an abundance of athleticism to overcome assignment mistakes and punish backs. So really, quarterback Johnny Langan needs his pre-snap reads to be right, receivers to avoid being jammed, balls to be thrown to perfectly timed and run routes, then receivers to secure the catch. Rutgers did this against Liberty for the first time in ages. Every offensive line in the country has their hands full with the Buckeyes, so when RU does pass, it will be an adventure. This could easily be another sub-50 yard through the air performance.

In general, I was driven insane by Chris Ash week in and week out talking about how Rutgers lost a game because they made more mistakes than an opponent. The problem was, the Scarlet Knights would make mistakes and commit turnovers even while playing it “safe”. To win games against evenly matched and even some opponents who are less talented than you, playing aggressive is a must. It’s not just that vanilla loses games, it’s the mentality that goes along with that line of thinking.

This game though I am fine if Rutgers tells Johnny Langan to check down, tuck it and run, and run the ball into the line on 3rd and 10. Against an opponent like OSU, putting the ball on the ground even when surrendering opportunities for first downs is quite natural. So avoiding negative plays and punting might be an accomplishment for the Scarlet offense. That being said if someone is open like Isaiah Washington, Langan needs to throw the ball to him.

The coaching staff seems hesitant to give Cole Snyder his first career action (other than one play) against Ohio State, but hey you never know. In 1981, Doug Flutie got his first real action against #2 Penn State and he turned out fine.

Chris Ash, Head Coach. Andy Buh, D.C. Greg Schiano, Head Coach

The savior Greg Schiano isn’t in charge (yet) against some of his former players. He coached in Columbus as recently as last year. That wouldn’t really matter as Ohio State boasts top three personnel in the country alongside Alabama and Clemson. We know it will be difficult for Rutgers to score points, we need to examine the opposite extreme on the opposing sideline. Ohio State has failed to crack 40 points only twice; once against then #25 Michigan State (34-10 win) and versus #13 Wisconsin (38-7 win).

Justin Fields is a Heisman contender who has thrown for 27 TDs and run for 10 more. J.K. Dobbins is one of the best running backs in the country, outperforming the stars OSU opponents trotted out at the same position in their head to head matchups like Jonathan Taylor. The receivers don’t have more catches because they gain so many yards after, get such big leads, and have no need to pour it on opponents. The offensive line is top notch.

So Andy Buh’s goal is to start small. Pick one thing Rutgers can try to get the better of in this contest. Maybe it’s eliminate runs to the left side. Maybe it’s avoid short completions. Maybe it’s avoid deep balls. Maybe it’s attack a single offensive lineman on the OSU sideline to make his life miserable. Whatever that is, game plan as if this is a practice and Rutgers is working on just a small part of their defensive scheme. I doubt the score of this game will have any bearing on any of the defensive coaches’ careers and in 20 years, they probably will barely remember it. Play loose, play with energy, play with enthusiasm, and play with a short memory.

Mandatory Ranked Opponent Q: Is this game one QB injury away from RU having a chance?

No.

“But Dave, Chase Young isn’t playing.”

Please stop.

Special Teams

The Rutgers special teamers have generally outperformed their competition in 2019, but not by the large margin we hoped for prior to the campaign. The story in this game is if special teams was independent of offense and defense, would Rutgers play Ohio State relatively even? Keep in mind that since OSU is travelling, they have less players dressed for this game so we won’t see their third string kickoff team or fourth string field goal block unit.

At this point the Rutgers special teams other than going nuclear against Michigan State and hoping for an upset, should be focused on 2020. What can Adam Korsak do to put himself in All-America consideration next year? What can Justin Davidovicz do to be more reliable? Who can step up as a reliable and potentially dangerous return man?

For Rutgers to sneak a few wins next year, the special teams really need to dominate their opportunities against roughly evenly talented opponents. Ohio State has elite athletes, can Rutgers still be effective on ST?

Final Thoughts

The Rutgers season will not be defined by this game unless it’s literally 100-0 on the scoreboard. Several podcasts this week asked the question I have thought about since Rutgers joined the Big Ten; will RU beat OSU in my lifetime? My answer was 2025 at the earliest and now is probably more like 2030. That said, Purdue of all teams upset the Buckeyes in 2018, a team that started 2-6 this season. The short of it is that we will assume losses to Ohio State until much further notice.

The goal of this game against the number two team in the nation is to take ANYTHING positive from it. For example, even if a Rutgers starter makes one wide open catch against an Ohio State third teamer, we will take it. He will have that story to tell the rest of his life that he caught a ball with one hand in a blizzard against eventual National Champion Ohio State in double coverage with a bug haven’t flown in his eye.

Right now Rutgers is just not a good football team. They have stabilized in general as a program it seems temporarily, but were totally sunk on the field by just six big plays at Illinois two weeks ago. The future fate on the banks of everyone on this coaching staff is questionable overall, but I don’t expect them to mail it in even in a relatively meaningless game. Even if they give it their all, this one will be ugly, with or without the big plays.

At the end of the day we are just waiting for Greg Schiano to come full circle, right?

Just for fun, answer our sly poll if you so choose:

Poll

Which VHS tape on your shelf ended the Cold War?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Rocky IV
    (30 votes)
  • 8%
    Rambo III
    (5 votes)
  • 10%
    RU FB loses to WVU by 1 (close enough!) as Berlin Wall falls
    (6 votes)
  • 29%
    RU men’s hoops defeats PSU in A-10 final (1989)
    (17 votes)
58 votes total Vote Now