For the first time since 2015, Rutgers heads into the second week of the season with a win. The Scarlet Knights have an uphill battle ahead of them as they travel to Columbus to take on No. 4 Ohio State on Saturday at 3:40 p.m.
Rutgers did not need to be perfect to defeat Texas State at home last week, and the Scarlet Knights were not flawless on their way to a 35-7 victory against the Bobcats. True freshman Artur Sitkowski showed some nerves, throwing three interceptions, one which resulted in Texas State’s only score of the game.
Ohio State showed off why they are ranked fourth-best in the country by dropping 77 points on Oregon State en route to a 77-31 victory. The suspension of Urban Meyer did nothing to slow down the Buckeyes, and with Meyer coaching in practice this week, Ohio State should be better this week than they were last week.
Last week’s 77 points tied the record for most points scored in a season opener, which the Buckeyes set in 2016. Later in that season, Ohio State shutout the Scarlet Knights, winning by 58. The Buckeyes currently lead the series 4-0.
In his debut last week, Sitkowski completed 20 of his 30 attempts, threw for 205 yards and a touchdown. Raheem Blackshear kicked off his sophomore season where his freshman year ended, rushing 62 yards on 12 attempts with both a rushing and a receiving touchdown on Saturday. Blackshear also saw time with special teams, filling the Janarion Grant hole.
Redshirt sophomore Elorm Lumor blocked a field goal in the first quarter, the first blocked kick of his career. Lumor also recorded a sack and four tackles as a defensive end. Star senior cornerback Blessaun Austin recorded three tackles and a sack before leaving the game after playing only 18 minutes. Austin will be inactive in Columbus and is being listed as “week to week.”
The loss of Austin will be felt by the Scarlet Knights. Austin is considered to be Rutgers’ best prospect in the 2019 draft and made his presence known early on in the season opener. Avery Young held his own after Austin left with injury, and will need to do so again on Saturday to keep the Scarlet Knights in the game.
While Sitkowski made a solid case as to why he is the quarterback of the future, this weekend is his first real test as a Scarlet Knight. This will be Sitkowski’s first road trip and he has to match up against one of the country’s top teams in one of the most hostile atmospheres. If Sitkowski gives the Buckeyes any gifts, the game will quickly turn ugly for Rutgers.
The biggest area of weakness for the Scarlet Knights last weekend was special teams. There were many silly mistakes that simply can not happen this week against Ohio State.
Rutgers will need to be perfect in Columbus to keep this game even remotely close. If the Scarlet Knights can keep the Buckeyes under 50 points, it might as well be a win for Rutgers in the Horseshoe.
Prediction: Ohio State 52, Rutgers 10
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