Rutgers finally hung with Ohio State. My thoughts:
Progress Has Been Made: For the first time, watching Rutgers play Ohio State wasn’t brutal. The Scarlet Knights truly made it a game with the Buckeyes, and arguably, outside of the red zone, they outplayed OSU as well. Rutgers had more yards, more first downs, and despite the final score being 35-16, the game was much closer than that. Yesterday showed humongous progress, and there’s a real possibility for Rutgers to finish 7-5 or 8-4 down the stretch.
Kyle Monangai 1st Team All-Big Ten: Rutgers’s star running back turned in another career day against the Buckeyes, rushing for 159 yards on 24 carries. It was his third straight 100-yard game and fifth such game of the year. He’s now over 900 yards on the ground this season and is all but likely going to be the first Scarlet Knight to run for 1000 yards since Jawan Jamison did so in 2012. He should be a first-team all-conference back this year and has been a revelation for this Rutgers offense. Can’t help but see a lot of Pacheco in him too.
Wimsatt Isn’t Quite There as a Passer: Gavin Wimsatt is one of the best rushing quarterbacks in the Big Ten, and he’s the biggest threat Rutgers had under center in a long time, but as a passer, he has a long way to go. Wimsatt went just 10 for 25 for 129 yards through the air against Ohio State, and that’s simply not going to get it done against good teams. He missed several easy throws and overthrew multiple wide-open receivers. While there’s no question the arm talent is there (see his throw to Ian Strong in the 4th quarter), for Rutgers’ offense to take the next step, his accuracy and consistency need to improve.
Defense Was Outstanding: Rutgers' defense was superb against the Buckeyes. They held Ohio State to just 7 points in the first half, and for most of the game, completely shut them down. Marvin Harrison Jr. had just 25 yards on 4 catches (although he had 2 TDs), and the Scarlet Knights run defense was very solid. Mohamed Toure is having an incredible bounce-back season and picked up a ton of slack with Tyreem Powell being out.
Red Zone Offense Issues: The biggest issue that hindered Rutgers yesterday was their red zone offense or lack thereof. The Scarlet Knights settled for 3 field goals of 20-22 yards in the first half because they couldn’t punch one in. A touchdown or two in those situations flips this entire game, and Rutgers would’ve had a much better chance at an upset. It’s been an issue all season, and for the Scarlet Knights to reach their potential, it needs to be a focal point in practice this week.
Is Rutgers a Top 4 B1G Team? I never thought I’d be asking myself this, but plenty of people have Rutgers as a top 4 or 5 Big Ten team in their weekly power rankings. They’re the only team that has played Michigan close at all this season and also the only school to take a halftime lead over Ohio State into the locker room. These final 3 games will be telling as to whether or not Rutgers is truly that good as they face Iowa and Penn State as well as Maryland to end the season. This question will be answered easily if the Scarlet Knights can finish 8-4.