Before 2014, Ohio State had never faced Rutgers in the Buckeyes’ 124-year history.
Since then, the Buckeyes have faced the Scarlet Knights four times, winning all four games by a combined score of 219-21.
Still even with the recent history, both teams come into the game 1-0 and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said Ohio State will come in expecting a fight.
“It’s our job to beat them, and our job — my job is to make sure that the defense plays the way they’re capable of playing against them,” Schiano said. “And they’re better. You look at the offense, we’re game planning as we speak.”
Schiano, who was the head coach at Rutgers for 10 seasons, said even with heightened emotions, this is just another game on the schedule for him as an Ohio State coach.
“As far as it applies to game week, there is no factor,” Schiano said. “Is it sentimental? Sure it is.”
Rutgers comes into the matchup off a dominant 35-7 victory over Texas State in Week 1. The Scarlet Knights held Texas State to 169 total yards while forcing three turnovers in the victory.
Rutgers freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski completed 20-of-30 pass attempts for 205 yards and a touchdown in the Rutgers victory, while throwing three interceptions in his first collegiate start.
Ohio State redshirt junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones said the defensive line’s mindset doesn’t change with a freshman under center.
“Our eyes light up regardless if he’s a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, I mean, he’s a quarterback, and we want the quarterback,” Jones said. “We’re going to get after him.”
Rutgers deployed three running backs — freshman Isaih Pacheco, sophomore Raheem Blackshear and redshirt senior Jonathan Hillman — heavily into the offense, with all three backs breaking 60 yards while averaging at least four yards per carry.
In the Oregon State matchup, the Buckeye defense dominated the run game in the first half, allowing minus-4 yards, but then allowed two rushing touchdowns of more than 75 yards.
Schiano said the defense cannot let up big plays like that later in the season.
“82 percent of the offense came on seven plays, 82 percent of their production. We can’t allow that,” Schiano said Monday. “Have to go back a long time to remember two long runs like that, not only here but anywhere. It’s unacceptable.”
Rutgers forced Texas State’s two quarterbacks to finish a combined 10-of-25 passing for 100 yards and an interception.
Now, the Scarlet Knights must match up against redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins, who broke the record for passing yards in a game and touchdowns by an Ohio State quarterback in a first collegiate start.
Though the Scarlet Knights found a way to disrupt the passing game against Texas State, they will need to pressure Haskins significantly more up against a much stronger offensive line.
Offensively, Rutgers needs to dominate the run game with Pacheco, Blackshear and Hillman, finding ways past an Ohio State defense that appeared vulnerable to big runs against the Beavers.
But Ohio State has too many weapons on the offensive side to make any of this matter. The Buckeyes have sophomore J.K. Dobbins and redshirt junior Mike Weber in the run game to alleviate pressure off Haskins even if the Scarlet Knights’ secondary is giving him problems.
Everything would have to go perfectly for Rutgers to pull off a massive upset on the Buckeyes, and Ohio State’s defense would have to look even weaker than it did against Oregon State.
This won’t happen, as, like Jones said, the Week 1 game was the game to make mistakes, and the Buckeyes won’t make those same ones in Week 2.
“The first game is always like a feel-out game, how is your team going to be, you can always develop from the first game,” Jones said.
Ohio State will develop from the first game and, even with an improved Rutgers roster, should take control of the matchup early.
Wyatt Crosher: 52-14 Ohio State
Colin Gay: 56-17 Ohio State
Edward Sutelan: 66-24 Ohio State