Was the game over by halftime? Yes. Did Rutgers put on a show for their fans? Big yes.
For the first time ever, the Rutgers faithful can feel good after a trip to Columbus. The Scarlet Knights suffered a 49-27 loss on Saturday night but they pulled out all the stops in this one.
Ohio State outscored Rutgers 28-0 in the second quarter and led 35-3 at halftime. Justin Fields continued his Heisman campaign by going 24-28 for 314 yards and five touchdowns. He is still without an interception this season.
In the second half, we saw a new Rutgers’ team. They outscored the Buckeyes 24-14 over the final 30 minutes and did it in creative ways.
With 8:08 left in the third quarter, Rutgers faced a first-and-goal from the Buckeye four-yard line. Noah Vedral took the snap, rolled to his right then threw a backwards pass to left tackle Raiqwon O’Neal. The big man took it four yards for a touchdown.
On their next possession, Johnny Langan hit Jovani Haskins for a six-yard touchdown. The Rutgers’ defense was able to force the Buckeyes to punt from their own end zone and this allowed the specials teams to get creative. Avery Young fielded the punt on the right side of the field and proceeded to throw it across to Bo Melton on the left. Melton would cross fields and take it 58 yards for a score.
Rutgers would add one final touchdown with 7:17 left on a Langan one-yard run.
Was Vedral overly impressive in this game? Not necessarily. He finished 21-32 for 165 yards. The defense struggled once again allowing 517 total yards and 203 on the ground. In an Ohio State game, that is to be expected.
The Scarlet Knights need to clean up the penalties. This continues to be an issue as they committed nine more penalties on Saturday night for a total of 80 yards. They finished with two turnovers, including one on the final drive of the game.
This is still an imperfect team but Rutgers has shown that they are going to fight in every game. Greg Schiano and Sean Gleeson put together a game plan in the second half to keep the Buckeyes on their toes.
The Scarlet Knights were able to cover a massive spread in this game and force Ohio State to keep their key players in until the end. This is a moral victory in itself.
Heading into a Week 4 matchup with Illinois in Piscataway, Rutgers has to be feeling pretty good abut their chances to win the game.