Rutgers will travel to Columbus to take on No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday afternoon. The Scarlet Knights will be huge underdogs against one of the top teams in the nation. Below, take a look at what our staff believes will happen during the action.
Greg Patuto: In a way, Rutgers’ fans can take this game as a second bye week. Rather than worrying about the outcome, the Scarlet Knights need to show some physicality and toughness against a superior team. This can come on the defensive side of the ball against the talent at wide receiver or if Rutgers’ receivers can get open against a thin secondary.
It is hard to bet a game that is a 40-point spread because Ohio State might take its foot off the gas. At the same time, this is the team that scored 77 against Toledo. If anything, take the over as Ohio State will approach it on its own. Ohio State 55, Rutgers 10.
John Catapano: The betting line this morning is RU +39.5 points. No, I wouldn’t dare bet on this or any other college football game with a 10-foot pole from Middle Tennessee State but the spread sounds about right. For Rutgers to keep the score respectable, they need to do the obvious: Not turn the ball over (see Iowa), commit to running the ball, and if Evan Simon is the starter, do not drop him back to pass 50+ times. Keep him healthy. I’m not worried about the defense. They will give up points but the effort will be there on that side of the ball. The offensive line really needs to show progress and I expect to see a heavy does of Samuel Brown V, as he continues to move piles. Get out of Columbus healthy and gear up for another winnable game against Nebby on Black Friday. OSU 56 RU 17.
David Anderson: Avid readers of the site know I don’t care about the margin once it’s 30+ points. What I want to see from the defense is which cornerbacks and safeties can cover any of Ohio State’s receivers. After last year’s track meet didn’t inspire much confidence, have the DBs closed the gap at all especially now that OSU sent two wide receivers and a tight end to the NFL in the first three rounds of the draft? In the front seven, even if it hurts the final score, rotate as many guys as possible to avoid getting banged up for a short week.
On offense, the microscope is on Willie Tyler and Curtis Dunlap especially, plus J.D. DiRenzo to some extent. They need to show that they can protect the quarterback, especially when Rutgers is not in obvious passing situations. It’s one thing to get beat when the defense is pinning their ears back in third and long while quite another when they are playing run first and still able to get to the QB. Can Evan Simon show some improvement and can the receivers run some better routes? The wideouts gave him nowhere to throw the ball several times a week ago, even against zone coverage. Ohio State’s only potential weakness that could derail their college football playoff hopes is inconsistency at the cornerback spot. With more struggles, Rutgers may need to start moving away from its smaller, quicker receivers and just start playing basketball with Sean Ryan, Isaiah Washington, the tight ends, and maybe a few taller guys we haven’t seen yet. Hoping for a miracle, but this one will get ugly primarily due to the teams being on opposite ends of the spectrum for offensive explosiveness. John is where I think the final score neighborhood will be. Ryan Day needs style points with the CFP committee, but he shouldn’t be in a hurry to embarrass Rutgers. OSU 58, RU 13.
Jack Schocket: Would I love to predict an RU upset in Colombus? Yes. But let’s face reality, Rutgers has little to no chance to win this game. While I don’t think it’s going to be an Ash-esque blowout, Ohio State should handle Rutgers easily. What’s more important is staying healthy and a little progress on the offensive side of the ball. Can Rutgers complete more passes, turn the ball over less, and run with any efficiency? This remains to be seen, but that’s more important than how lopsided this game is in Colombus. The offensive line needs to improve significantly in pass protection if Rutgers wants any chance to not get killed. The defense is going to be obviously outmatched, but any ability to hang with Ohio States' offense and force a few stops will be huge for their confidence. Rutgers needs to put up a little fight and not get completely embarrassed by OSU. I’ve got Ohio State by more than a few dozen. OSU 51 RU 14