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2021 Rutgers Football Game Preview #5 vs. Ohio State

The Scarlet Knights will host the Buckeyes at SHI Stadium on Saturday.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

How To Watch, Stream & Listen

Ohio State at Rutgers

Where: SHI Stadium, Piscataway, NJ (Game Day Policies)

Kick-off: Saturday, October 2 at 3:30 PM ET

Weather: 77 degrees, mostly sunny with a 6% chance of rain, 5-10 mph winds

TV: BTN with Brandon Gaudin (play-by-play), James Laurinaitis (color), Rick Pizzo (sideline)

Stream: FOX Sports App

Radio: RWJBarnabas Health Rutgers Sports Network (WCTC 14-50-AM, WOR 710-AM, XM 196, Sirius 113) with Chris Carlin (play-by-play), Mike Teel and Eric LeGrand (analyst) and Anthony Fucilli (sideline); WRSU 88.7 FM - Dylan Allen & Jake Schmied

Current Spread: Ohio State -14

Series History: Ohio State leads 7-0, last season Ohio State defeated Rutgers 49-27

Ohio State SB Nation Site: Land-Grant Holy Land

Ohio State scouting report

Statistical Leaders

Rutgers

Passing: Noah Vedral - 76-for-112, 67.9%, 762 yards, 5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions

Rushing: Isaih Pacheco - 259 yards on 65 carries, 4.0 ypc, 3 touchdowns

Receiving: Bo Melton - 24 catches for 253 yards, 10.5 ypc, 2 touchdowns

Defense: Olakunle Fatukasi - 33 tackles and 3.5 sacks, Max Melton - 2 interception

Ohio State

Passing: CJ Stroud- 63-for-101, 62.4%, 963 yards, 8 touchdowns, 3 interceptions

Rushing: Treveyon Henderson - 439 yards on 46 carries, 9.5 ypc, 6 touchdown

Receiving: Garrett Wilson - 23 catches for 391 yards, 17.0 ypc, 3 touchdowns

Defense: Ronnie Hickman - 33 tackles, Haskell Garrett and Tyleik Williams - 3 sacks, Ronnie Hickman - 2 interceptions

What To Watch For

When Rutgers has the ball

Rutgers fell behind early against Michigan but controlled the second half. The Scarlet Knights outgained the Wolverines in overall yards, rushing yards, and won the time-of-possession battle by over five minutes. Can they continue this against Ohio State?

Isaih Pacheco was a huge reason why the Scarlet Knights were able to climb back into the game. The emergence of a rushing attack would take Rutgers to the next level. Pacheco finished with 20 carries for 107 yards. Big Ten games are still controlled in the trenches and it is a way to keep the opposing team’s offense off the field. This is important for Rutgers against an explosive offense like the Buckeyes.

There have not been a ton of points allowed by Big Ten teams. Ohio State has allowed 23.3 points per game this season but that is 12th in the conference. They were exposed a bit against Oregon, where CJ Verdell tore them up on the ground. Connection — this is where Pacheco will have to show up once again.

Noah Vedral is an x-factor each week and will be mentioned in conversation. He has not thrown an interception yet and the only turnover of the season came on a fumble on the final possession of the Michigan game. If the Scarlet Knights can pound the ball like they did last week, they can chew some minutes off the clock and hang around.

When Ohio State has the ball

Kyle McCord got the start for Ohio State last week against Akron but Ryan Day has said that CJ Stroud is the starter when healthy. It is looking like Stroud will be able to be under center against the Scarlet Knights on Saturday and there will be plenty of weapons to work with.

“I saw him a couple times, and he’s a good player,” Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said on a call with local reporters Thursday. “Obviously he won the starting job so Ryan thought he was the best of the guys. He’s surrounded by an extraordinary group of people, so whoever was going to play quarterback, it was going to be a challenge.”

Rutgers wants to slow this game down. They will not be able to score with Ohio State because of the weapons that they have. The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten with 43.3 points and 599 yards of total offense per contest this season. When Ohio State loses a game, it is like the sky is falling. This is still a team that can and should be viewed as the favorite to win the Big Ten.

Wilson and Chris Olave get plenty of attention but Treveyon Henderson has 439 yards on the ground this season and is averaging 9.5 yards per carry. Ohio State is still a big-play offense that can put up points in bunches. They struggled against Oregon but they have been able to get comfortable against Rutgers in year’s past.

A key matchup is on third down. Ohio State leads the Big Ten with a 53% conversion rate and the Rutgers defense is holding opponents to a league low 21.6% conversion rate.

Ohio State is not near the top of the rankings anymore. There has been talks questioning whether they are legitimate this season. That is not ideal for Rutgers as the Buckeyes might want to make a statement in this one.

Could Rutgers win this game?

The performance last week against Michigan will give some hope against Ohio State. It adds some intrigue going into this game but more often than not, talent and depth prevail. The gap is still large between these two teams. While it might be closing a bit, this is likely not the year that Rutgers gets over the hump.

Final thoughts

Like last week, Week 5 will be about if Rutgers can compete. As good as Michigan looked over the first three weeks, they are still not at the level of the Buckeyes. The Scarlet Knights will have a chance to see how they matchup against the class of the Big Ten — and they will be able to do it on their home field.