2018 Game Preview: Ohio State vs. Rutgers
Ohio State Preview: One of the first things Urban Meyer said to Ryan Day on his first day back at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center was “So you only had to punt once.” I think this sums up how well the Ohio State offense was rolling this past weekend against the overmatched Oregon State Beavers, who kept the game a little closer than anticipated with a few big plays in the second half, but ultimately, the game was put away in the 4th quarter, and Ohio State was able to get its younger players some experience.
Dwayne Haskins not only set a few records in his first start for the Scarlet and Gray, he racked up a few national awards as well, being named Big Ten Offensive player of the week as well as Manning Player of the Week with his 313 passing yards and 5 touchdowns. If there were any questions about who should be the starting quarterback, it was silenced last Saturday afternoon, and you were able to see what bar Haskins had set for Joe Burrow, who won his first game as the starting quarterback for LSU against Miami, had to beat to be the starter.
The Buckeyes are now setting their sights on this Big Ten East showdown against Rutgers, who come in with a 1-0 record after defeating Texas State at home. Ohio State should hopefully continue to work with the same gameplan they used against Oregon State against a outmatched Scarlet Knights team, who are 3-15 in Big Ten play since Chris Ash took over the program in 2016.
During this weeks press conferences, Ryan Day did bring up that Urban is now avaialable to help game plan for this game as well as TCU. Smart money would be that the team is using two weeks to prepare for the game against TCU next week, but that does not mean they are overlooking Rugters this week, who will have upset on the mind. Schiano addressed the issues from last game and that the defense would need to limit the big plays and sharpen their tackling angles. He had mentioned that players might have overcompensated when they missed their assignment and tried to do too much, which lead to the 2 long runs from Oregon State at the start of the 3rd quarter. Hopeful news is that Jordan Fuller, who missed last game due to a hamstring issue, will be back to help anchor the young secondary, and limit any big play potential. Tuf Borland should also continue to help the fresh linebacker group, after playing 10 snaps last week as he is getting back from his achilles injury from spring practices.
One of the positives was that Haskins was able to spread the wealth with his receivers, and set them up with his precision passing. Austin Mack had mentioned this week that it was enjoyable having Haskins under center, and that he has been able to help get the ball when the receiver needs to be. A great example of this was with the 75 yard touchdown from Terry McLaurin, who was able to catch the pass in stride and use his breakaway speed to get past the defenders. Expect Rutgers to bring tighter man coverage in this game, as Chris Ash utilizes the more bullish approach in his pass defense philosophy.
Rutgers Preview: Rutgers is coming into this game after beating Texas State at home, which was the first time Rutgers has won a season opening game under Chris Ash. The team has been making strides in the right direction, from going 0-9 in conference play in 2016 to 3-6 last year. Chris Ash knows that his team is in for a fight, and mentioned in this weeks Big Ten telephone conference that he sees this game as a measuring stick for his team, and seeing how they will compete against a stronger and faster opponent.
Historically, Rutgers is the oldest football team, but has not had the same on the field success as some of the blue bloods of the sport, like Alabama, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Ohio State. In the past four meetings, Ohio State has outscored the Scarlet Knights 219 – 24, and posted two straight shutouts. Rutgers is hoping with a more experienced offensive line, and a stronger running back duo, that they will be able to drive the ball against one of the top defensive lines in the country. Should their tandem of Raheem Blackshear and Jonathan Hillman have the same success this week as they did last week, this could be a much closer challenge for the home team.
Freshman quarterback Artur Stikowski is still learning the college level game, and passed for a respectable 205 yards with a 20/29 attempt-completion ratio. He should have some confidence going into this game, as Chris Ash expects him to continue to carry the mantle and help steer this team into a winning record.
Buckeye Spotlight: Easy answer would be to go with Haskins in this one, but I am going to go with Mike Weber, who posted a career best game last week against Oregon state after rushing for 186 yards and 3 touchdowns. Statistically, Ohio State has the top performers for passing yards rushing yards, and Receiving yards with Haskins, Weber, and McLarin respectively. I want to see what Weber can do this week against a slightly better defense and see if this wasnt a one time thing. Dobbins should hopefully turn around his game too, and Day mentioned that he will monitor both backs carries, but it is hard to shy away from Weber after the game he had. Lets not also forget that Mike Weber was close to leaving the program. I think Buckeye Nation is glad he stayed.
Scarlet Knight Spotlight: For the second week in a row, we are going to go with the opposing teams quarterback. Chris Ash must have a lot of confidence in true freshman Artur Stikowsk, and he will challenge the young Ohio State secondary. Oregon State was able to make big plays by forcing pass interference calls against the Ohio State secondary, and I am sure Ash will have his team keyed in on that.
Water Cooler Stat of the Game: 899. Ohio State is one win away from reaching 900 total wins, and would be the second team in college football to do so. The wins from 2010 were vacated, and if counted, Ohio State would have 911 wins, but they have not been reinstated…yet.
Prediction: I think Rutgers is going to pose a bit more of a challenge than Oregon State, and will have a better showing than the previous years, but I think Ohio State is still the best team on the field, and will make quick work once more by halftime. Haskins should put up big numbers again as the team uses this as one last warm up before the top 15 showdown against the TCU Horn Forgs in AT&T Stadium. Rutgers will try to attack the young back seven for Ohio State and could get some momentum, but it will be too little too late for this overmatched team.
Ohio State 63 – Rutgers 14