The No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes come to SHI Stadium on Saturday with a 3-1 record and 1-0 mark in Big Ten play. Taking on Rutgers (3-1; 0-1) one week after they gave OSU’s rival up north has certainly gotten the attention of the visitors. There should be great energy at kickoff and the Scarlet Knights have another tremendous opportunity to make a statement across the college football world. Our contributors have made their predictions for Saturday’s game and let’s get to it.
Fred Gaudios: What a fun season this has been so far. You can be sure Ohio State is going to bring the thunder on Saturday, they’re not going to underestimate Rutgers. Here’s a few things I can reasonably assume about Rutgers, at this point in the season. (1) They aren’t going to punch a better team in the face early, but they’re going to hang around for the entire sixty minutes and make the game really uncomfortable for their opponents. (2) When Sean Gleeson and Noah Vedral get into a rhythm like they got into in the second half of the Michigan game, the Rutgers offense can really hum. (3) Red zone production is going to be a problem for Rutgers, due to offensive limitations I won’t waste a ton of time on. All of this is to say — OSU will bend but not break against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights will move the ball pretty well and score their share of points, but Ohio State won’t make the same offensive mistakes Michigan did. Rutgers fans are in for a bunch of Rocky I experiences this season. I think there will be a Rocky II moment before the end of the season, but I don’t think it’ll be against Ohio State. Ohio State 35 Rutgers 27
Dave White: Al Pacino’s role in the vastly overrated Any Given Sunday gives him prime time to go all out Pacino. Screaming, breathing hard, and essentially being the character in The Devil’s Advocate but, ya know, with football or something. However, everyone thinks that inch-by-inch speech is great and fiery and anything can happen on—sigh—Any Given Sunday. I always liked Pacino, even at his hackiest. He’s great in The Godfather films, of course, and he’s also excellent in Heat—where he’s crazy-go-nuts. He commands the screen with his icy stares and crumpled-up suits. That’s one of the things that is always wrong with me in the football film—why is he wearing a suit? No football coaches wear suits anymore. Did you know that bad weather and a threatened lawsuit caused the movie to have an eight-month production delay? Anyway, the runtime of the movie feels longer than a college football game on any given Saturday. Rutgers 38 Ohio State 34
Patrick Mella: It’s an interesting week for Rutgers as the conference’s top offense, Ohio State, comes to Piscataway. Rutgers has established itself as one of the Big Ten’s top defenses that once again will be put to the test. I could very much see this game mirroring that of last week. But unlike some of my fellow contributors this week, I believe they’re going to fall just short. Don’t get me wrong they will put up a fight. Rutgers is too good on defense to let this game get out of hand. But ultimately the depth of Ohio State and the combination of QB C.J. Stroud and RB TreVeyon Henderson will wear Rutgers down. Look another tight game into the 4th quarter with Rutgers losing a close game. If you’re inclined to lay some scratch this week, I’d take Rutgers with the points. They’re currently getting 14 points at home, with one of the best defenses in the conference. I’d be shocked if they did not cover that number. Ohio State 27 Rutgers 17
Art Stein: Hope springs eternal and while on paper, Rutgers does not have the firepower and talent that the Buckeyes have, Saturday’s game will not be played on paper. Emotion, coaching, and playing in front of the home crowd all serve to help even the playing field. Greg Schiano has made Saturday’s fun again and I am sure like many of you, Saturdays cannot come fast enough. While the prognosticators have Ohio State favored by two touchdowns, my gut feeling is that the Scarlet Knights are going to give Ohio State all they can handle. Ohio State 41 Rutgers 39
Andrew Cangiano: After the way Rutgers played in the second half against Michigan last Saturday it is tempting to believe the Scarlet Knights will be able to carry that momentum into SHI Stadium this week. However, we all know it doesn’t always work that way, especially playing against a team as talented as Ohio State. That having been said, I expect Rutgers to hang around in this game.
If Rutgers offensive line holds up against the Buckeyes front and opens some holes for Isaiah Pacheco this might be a contest. If Ohio State can stop the run and get pressure on quarterback Noah Vedral, it could be a long afternoon.
Then there is the 4th down factor. Most of the big risks taken by the Rutgers coaching staff on fourth down in Ann Arbor backfired. It will be interesting to see if Schiano and offensive coordinator Sean Gleason stay as aggressive this week or take a more conservative approach. (Perhaps it will depend on how well the defense plays.)
The line for this game is 14 points, which sounds about right. Ohio State is probably a few touchdowns better than Rutgers, but the gap has certainly closed. The Scarlet Knights will keep it close but in the end, but the Buckeyes pull it out. Ohio State 35 Rutgers 24
David Anderson: There’s a chance Rutgers can slay a giant, but it’s going to require a lot of things to go right. Ohio State has already lost a game and their quarterbacks have not looked great, but their receivers are so good they will break a few long ones for sure. Rutgers is probably a tad better than Minnesota right now and the Gophers played their hearts out but still lost by 14. Rutgers played well last week but they only scored ONE touchdown and Ohio State is always good for at least 35 points. The Rutgers coaching staff may be slightly better than the Buckeyes, but not enough to overcome the talent gap. Let’s see what the home-field advantage can provide, but as long as Ohio State doesn’t just curl up into a ball, they should cruise. Prove me wrong Rutgers! Ohio State 38 Rutgers 20
B Vincent P – Rutgers will be ready for OSU. The challenge with this game is... wait for it……this is still Ohio State. They are the class of the Big Ten until proven otherwise. Rutgers is playing its best ball in 9 years, winning 3 of the first 4 games and taking Michigan down to the final plays of the game. I expect Gleeson will throw everything and the kitchen sink at OSU by opening up the playbook to keep the Buckeyes off balance and to catch them off guard. RU will need a big game from its special teams to pin OSU back deep in their own end of the field and will need some solid return yards to jumpstart the RU offense. I will be pulling hard for the elusive big upset win that will deliver RU some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. The Scarlet Knights will win the tailgate and cover the spread. Ohio State 35 Rutgers 27
Greg Patuto: Is this the year? Could this be the time for Rutgers to shock the Big Ten and the country as a whole? Do not count on it just yet.
Yes, Rutgers looked the part last week in Ann Arbor against a hot Michigan team. They shut down the rushing attack but could still not get it done on the offensive side of the ball. The Buckeyes have struggled defensively so maybe Rutgers can get it going a bit. With that being said, the secondary for the Scarlet Knights will be tested by arguably the two best receivers in the nation — Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. If healthy, CJ Stroud is going to be back under center and Ohio State will be ready to air it out.
Unlike Michigan, the Buckeyes have an elite passing attack and that is how they will come at Rutgers. In the end, the Scarlet Knights will not be able to score to keep up with Ohio State. In regards to the spread, Rutgers is 4-0 ATS this season and getting two touchdowns. Risk-takers, take another hard look at this one but tread lightly. Ohio State 41, Rutgers 26
Cara Sanfilippo: I said early this week that Rutgers moved out of the bottom feeder section of the Big Ten this week and into the middle of the pack. A writer from Wolverines wire agreed that Rutgers would shock some teams this year. Will Ohio State be that team? I so want to say yes after how Rutgers played in the second half against Michigan last week. While Ohio State has seemed to be somewhat out of sort, by their elite standards, they are still OSU and have the cream of the crop talent. I will be part of the home crowd that I believe will be loud and energized and this team has something to prove. I think Rutgers will be close and they might put a little bit of fear into them, but I don't think they are there yet to close it out. However, I will be happy knowing that a few years ago, in the Ash Era, we went into games with Ohio State and other B1G elite, hoping we would score points and not be completely embarrassed. Now, some of us are predicting an upset. There are no moral victories but if the game is ever in question, I will take some joy from that. Ohio State 38, Rutgers 27
Justin Raffone: Going into last week Rutgers fans had some thoughts of upsets against Michigan that almost came to fruition. After playing a good game at Michigan, we are seeing calls for an upset again this week at home against Ohio State. I can’t see that happening quite yet as OSU is still the superior team across the board. A competitive, fun (that’s not something any of the past games against the Buckeyes have been) does seem to be in the cards, however. Each meeting gets a little more even on the playing field and this might be the best Rutgers plays in any game thus far. It won’t be enough still, though. Ohio State 41 Rutgers 33
Lawrence Krayn - I predicted at the beginning of the season that this would be a loss. Up to this point, I’m 4-0 in my preseason predictions. That was really fun until last week. As I sit at my desk and ponder the forthcoming Saturday festivities: The “B1G Tailgate show” setting up shop in Piscataway, my group’s massive tailgate and food, and a raucous atmosphere at SHI for our home Big Ten opener, I find myself torn between heart and head.
My preseason prediction was a Rutgers loss. Ohio State is still the best team in the Big Ten, and its talent level still exceeds Rutgers’ considerably. But I just can’t shake how poised and determined this team looked last Saturday. I just cannot get away from the energy I feel pulsing through the fanbase right now. I can’t help but think that that same energy is perceptible in the stadium Saturday at 3:30. Ohio State is the best, but they are not invincible. Any given Saturday. Anything is possible. Rutgers 31 Ohio State 27
Aaron Breitman: I said in this week’s podcast episode that I think this is the worst possible matchup for Rutgers to have directly after that awe inspiring second half performance against Michigan. Playing an opponent with similar talent and depth would have been a tremendous opportunity to keep the positive momentum from last week going. Instead they have to climb a taller, steeper hill. I absolutely expect Rutgers to give Ohio State a fight and that it will be the most competitive game between the two schools since the series began in 2014. The biggest difference between Michigan and Ohio State is that the Buckeyes have more playmakers and are more diverse in their play calling on the offensive side of the ball. The biggest question is whether the Rutgers offense can score enough to seriously threaten OSU? I think the Scarlet Knights defense proved last week they are a top half unit in the conference but how stout can they be against the top offense in the Big Ten? We will find out but my gut tells me they’ll impress in slowing them down. However, it won’t be enough to win the game. At the end of this game, if RU is relatively healthy and gained even more confidence, I will feel very optimistic about the three games that follow. Ohio State 28 Rutgers 13
How do you think this game will go on Saturday? Let us know your predictions in the comment section.