The Ohio State Buckeyes are ranked number 1 in the College Football Playoff poll, the first time since 2019, and their 4th week ranked at the coveted top spot. Ask the team though what they think about their first place ranking, and they all will respond with the same sentiment, that the first ranking isnt the one that matters, its the last one.
The storyline for Ohio State this week will be about how healthy they can remain, and getting a win on their penultimate road game of the season against a Rutgers team that has 6 wins already this season, and bowl eligible.
For Rutgers, a win this week would be a monumental win, and one of their top wins in school history. In their 9 meetings so far, Rutgers is 0-9, but this might be one of their better teams in recent history, while Ohio State has some flaws that Greg Schiano will looking to expose.
This game will kick off at 12pm on CBS, and will be the second game this season on CBS for the Buckeyes.
Know the Opponent:
Head Coach: Greg Schiano (15th season overall)
2023 Record: 6-2
Location: Piscataway, NJ
Conference: Big Ten
Ohio State Preview
Ohio State should win this game, and go into it as 18.5 point favorites, which I think Vegas is still adjusting to this years version of the Ohio State offense. The key though will be injures, and is their a plan incase Kyle McCord needs to be pulled at any point, with one of the last memories we have of the quarterback is of him limping off the field favoring his right ankle after last week’s win. Backup quarterback Devin Brown injured an ankle in the previous week’s win over Penn State, and Ryan Day said he was going to start practicing again this week.
While Ohio State remains a top team, it’s offense has not been as dynamic as recent years. The defense remains among the best in the nation.
“I think it’s a mindset, you know, you’re not allowed to have a bad day at Ohio State,” Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said. “Any of us, that’s just the way it goes. So I say all the time, on your bad days you have to be average at the very least, if not better than that. On your average days, you got to be really good. On your good days, you got to be great.”
Kyle McCord has passed for 2163 yards through 8 games this season, and has passed 14 touchdowns to 3 interceptions. Hopefully he is not limited in what he can do for the team.
TreVeyon Henderson played his first game since Notre Dame, and was a welcome sight for the Scarlet and Gray. He now has 457 yards rushing with 6 touchdowns on 68 carries. He will likely get more involved in the passing game, especially as a check down for McCord, and he has 7 catches for 90 yards. With Miyan William out for the year, Chip Trayanum and Dallan Hayden should be the rotational running backs for the rest of the year. Chip has 66 carries for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns on the season. Hayden has 11 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown, all from the Purdue game.
Marvin Harrison Jr is on a track to compete for the Heisman, and I hope Day and Hartline worked this week on how to get him the ball. He leads the team with 48 catches and 889 yards, with 8 touchdowns. He might have to average 120 yards and 1+ touchdowns the next 4 games to keep him in contention, but he has been the offense in a year the offense as been under par. Cade Stover should hopefully get more touches than last week, as he is second on the team with 27 catches and 429 yards with 3 touchdowns. Egbuka was held back last week despite Day saying he is ready, and it is better to have your best players healthy for this last stretch of the season.
Greg Schiano has his team 6-2, with their losses coming to Michigan and Wisconsin, who Ohio State defeated last week. They have a chance though to make history, and try to upset the number 1 ranked team in the country.
“I look at it as an amazing opportunity,” Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt said. “The number one team in the country is coming into our stadium this weekend in front of our fans. The opportunity to compete and be out there with my guys and just go out there and play the game we love.”
The reason for Rutgers’ hope is coach Greg Schiano finally has a full recruiting class in the fourth year of his second tour. His defense is outstanding. His ball-control offense has limited its mistakes and Wimsatt has exceeded expectations. Special teams also is making big plays.
The offense is led by Gavin Wimsatt who is a true run threat, and the Scarlet Knights offense will be similar to the scheme Indiana set up in week 1. He has passed for 1134 yards with 7 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. On the ground, he is second on the team in rushing with 73 carries for 362 yards and 7 touchdowns.
The lead running back is Kyle Monangai, who has 144 carries for 744 yards and 7 touchdowns, averaging 5.2 yards a carry. Behind him is Ja’shon Benjamin, who has 43 carries for 174 yards.
Marvin Harrison Jr. Who else? Him and TreVeyon Henderson might be the focal points for the offense this week who are just trying to get healthy, get a win, and move to 9-0.
Scarlet Knight Spotlight
Gavin Wimsatt. For Rutgers to have any chance in this game, Wimsatt with have to play keep away from the Ohio State offense, especially with his top receiver out for the year.
Water Cooler Stat of the Game
9-0. The Buckeyes are 9 and 0 against Rutgers, and have never started a series 10 and 0. Additionally, a win for Ryan Day this week will move him to 36-0 against unranked opponents.
The number 1 Buckeyes will put their ranking to the rest against Greg Schiano, who has always had a something up his sleeve with trick plays on special teams, and an offensive play or two that forces the defense to stay honest. They have been one of the better defenses in the country, and are bowl eligible, but Ohio State has Marvin Harrison Jr, who is on a war path to earn finalist recognition for the Heisman and Biletnikoff. The only worry for Ohio State will be the health of Kyle McCord, who is playing through an ankle injury, and looked rough the last quarter against Wisconsin. I see this game being close for the first quarter, but if Ohio State can get Emeka Egbuka back, and TreVeyon Henderson plays with the same effort as he did last week, the Buckeyes should be able to control the game, and limit Rutgers who is without their top receiver.
Ohio State 38 – Rutgers 7
Photo Credit – Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK