Ohio State will again be big favorites over Rutgers
The Buckeyes and Scarlet Knights have met a total of four times. Each of those four meetings have been since Rutgers joined the Big Ten in 2014. The closest game was that season, when Ohio State defeated Rutgers by a count of 56-17. The last two years have been shutouts in favor of Meyer’s team, with Ohio State scoring 58 and 56 apiece.
Needless to say, this series has not been kind to the school from Piscataway. Still, the Knights had an encouraging year in 2017 by going 3-6 in conference—an improvement from zero the year before. Chris Ash (former defensive coordinator at Ohio State) is in his third year as head coach. The Knights will have their ninth offensive coordinator in as many years with John McNulty. McNulty was also the offensive coordinator for Rutgers from 2004-2008.
Offense looks to make leap forward in 2018
Rutgers’ offense under Jerry Kill last season struggled, averaging just 18.0 points and 263 yards per game. This year should be a significant improvement with offensive coordinator John McNulty.
True freshman quarterback, Artur Sitkowski, will be the likely starter to begin the season. Sitkowski will be thrown into a good situation with plenty of experience on this Rutgers offense. Running back Jon Hilliman is a senior transfer from Boston College. Hilliman had 20 starts the last two years for the Eagles, running for 1,180 yards.
Protecting Sitkowski will be one of the stronger offensive lines in the last few years in Piscataway. Starting 23 games over the last two seasons, this line will be led by senior tackle Tariq Cole. Kamaal Seymour started all 12 games last season, and center Jonah Jackson started in six games before being injured. Micah Clark and Mike Lonsdorf all return game experience to this offensive line.
The receiving core returns its top 2017 target in Jerome Washington. Washington caught one touchdown on 282 yards at tight end.
Knights defense should continue progress
After a steep decline once entering the Big Ten, Rutgers’ defense had an uptick in production in 2017. Points per game went from 37.5 to 28.3, and yards went from 451 to 299. Eight starters return for this year.
Top two tacklers Trevor Morris and Deonte Roberts come back to the Rutgers defense in 2018. The defensive line returns experience and depth, and linebacker very well could be the strength of this defense.
ESPN’s FPI gives Ohio State a 96.4% chance of beating Ash’s Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers has not had a winning season since going 8-5 in 2014. Getting to a bowl this year is not out of reach, but it will be difficult. Rutgers’ November schedule is absolutely brutal. At Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State and at Michigan State.
This year’s edition of Ohio State vs. Rutgers will not end too different than years past. An improved offense and defense for the Scarlet Knights should make this a closer contest than the last two years, but not by much.
Ohio State 52, Rutgers 17