Rutgers Scarlet Knights
CONFERENCE RECORD: 0-1
NEXT OPPONENT: vs. Michigan Wolverines
TIME: 12 pm
LOCATION: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
BETTING LINE: Ohio State (-35)
Ohio State Buckeyes
CONFERENCE RECORD: 0-0
NEXT OPPONENT: vs. Indiana Hoosiers
RUTGERS PLAYER TO WATCH
Robert Martin, RB
Usually this spot is reserved for Janarion Grant, far and away the Scarlet Knights’ best player. However, he’s out for the season with a leg injury. This means the team must to rely on other players to carry them, and one of these players is Martin. He leads the Big Ten with 358 rushing yards overall and 119.3 rushing yards per game. In last week’s loss against Iowa, he rushed for 106 yards, and in a victory against New Mexico two weeks ago, he rushed for 169 yards and had an 80-yard touchdown run, both of which were career highs. To keep the game withinin reach, Rutgers’ offense must control the tempo of the game and that starts with their running back core. If Rutgers wants to have any shot of keeping the game close then Martin will have to produce, but even that might not be enough.
OHIO STATE PLAYER TO WATCH
Malik Hooker looks great the Buckeyes’ secondary, reeling in three interceptions through three games. Hooker has the tough assignment (along with fellow safety Damon Webb) of covering Rutgers’ receivers over the top on Saturday. It is no secret that the majority of the Scarlet Knights’ offense runs through Janarion Grant, but with him sidelined for the rest of the year, look for the Scarlet Knights to take even more chances downfield as they try to hang with the Buckeyes. Rutgers already comes into the game heavily unmatched but without Grant in the lineup, the Buckeyes will be nearly unstoppable. Look for Hooker to be aggressive and physical with the Rutgers’ recieving core, welcoming them to life without Grant. Expect Hooker to pull down at least one interception as the Buckeyes roll over the visitors
Rutgers Scarlet Knights Key Positions
Dorian Miller was named the offensive player of the game two weeks ago against New Mexico, and for good reason. The line did not allow a sack that game, and let Robert Martin achieve a career-high in rushing yards, including an 80-yard touchdown. However, the line allowed 4 sacks against Iowa last week. We’ll see what version of the offensive line shows up this week.
Robert Martin is the primary running back for the Scarlet Knights, and leads the Big Ten in rushing yards and yards per game. He might be the backbone of this offense now that Grant is done for the season. The Rutgers will have to lean on the running back core early to try and keep J.T. and company off of the field.
The linebacker position has constantly been one of the weakest for Rutgers this season. They graduated all of their starters from last year, and are now starting players with very little experience. Through four weeks, nobody has emerged as a playmaker for the Rutgers’ linebacking core but if they have any hope of stopping Ohio State’s run game, they must find a sure tackler quick.
As most people already know, Chris Ash was the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State before taking the Rutgers job. Now he faces his former employer for the first time in what is sure to be the exact opposite of a happy homecoming.
GAME PREVIEW ANALYSIS
Ohio States opens up homecoming weekend as a heavy 35-point favorite against the Scarlet Knights. The Buckeyes come off their bye week to face a 2-2 Rutgers team that has shown glimpses of competitiveness (Janarion Grant in particular). However, they have yet to put it all together on the field. Unfortunately for the Scarlet Knights, Janarion Grant will not be suiting up the rest of the season, leaving Rutgers with more questions than answers.
Ohio State comes into the game ranked as the number two team in the nation and has been electric on both sides of the ball. Opening up their Big 20 schedule with Rutgers should be more of a tune up game for the Buckeyes as the Scarlet Knights really do not have a playmaker to threaten Ohio State’s defense. Without a playmaker on the outside, the Buckeyes can stack the box and limit the Rutgers’ run game. If the Buckeyes jump to an early lead, as they should, Rutgers will have to be creative in their play calling to try and get some of their experienced receivers in space. Quarterback Chris Laviano does not have the weapons, nor the athleticism, to keep the Rutgers’ offense exciting without some creativity; the Rutgers’ offense will need a lot of luck to keep this one competitive.
On the opposite side of the ball, the Buckeyes have the opportunity to try out their full roster after halftime. Rutgers simply do not have the talent on their roster to compete with Urban Meyer’s fast tempo offense. J.T. Barrett, coming off of a bye week, will have no excuse but to play a near perfect half and get the Buckeyes’ offense rolling. Ohio State’s running backs should have the same mentality as they face the 88th best run defense in the FBS. Look for Meyer to not hold back and keep his offense rolling into a week six matchup against Indiana at home.
All signs point to a week five massacre in the horseshoe on Saturday. Optimism won’t help a depleted Rutgers’ roster and with Ohio State coming off of a bye week, well that won’t help either. This game may be ugly by halftime.
Rutgers – 14 Ohio State – 62
Ohio State Buckeyes Key Positions
The Buckeyes are coming off of their bye week well rested and well-prepared against an underwhelming Rutgers roster. The Scarlet Knights’ defense have allowed an average 181. 8 yards per game this year and should work in the favor of Curtis Samuel and Mike Weber nicely. The Buckeyes are already a heavy favorite so look for Meyer to put the ball on the ground and escape the week without any injuries as they move towards a tougher Big 10 schedule.
I have the best Offensive Line in the country!
— Mike Weber (@mikeweberjr) September 22, 2016
Rutgers are already missing their biggest playmaker in Janarion Grant, so passing the ball against a stout Ohio State secondary will already be a near impossible task. If Ohio State generates the pass rush that they have had in the last few weeks it will be a long day for quarterback Chris Laviano. The Buckeyes’ edge rushers should have a field day against the shaky pass blocking line of Rutgers. Look for the Buckeyes to rotate plenty of bodies, keeping them fresh, and putting emphasis on burying Chris Laviano under the Horseshoe turf on Saturday.
Coming off of a bye week the Buckeyes will look sharp and focused regardless, but since Urban Meyer took the reigns in 2012 Ohio State has treated every opponent the same. Meyer will not let up and run his offense until their is 100 points on the board, no matter what personnel is on the field.