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Today is the game that everyone in Buckeye Nation has been looking forward to, the date circled on every Ohio State fan’s calendar, the matchup that has been at the center of conversation since even before the clock at the Rose Bowl went to 00:00, today is RUTGERS DAY!
The No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0) will host the Scarlet Knights from the State University of New Jersey (3-1) at 3:30 p.m. ET in a game broadcast on the Big Ten Network. Given all of the palpable anticipation amongst OSU fans, earlier this week, we wanted to take the temperature of the Buckeye community about how they felt heading into this titanic struggle.
But, before we do that, we also wanted to see what the fan base felt was the biggest take away from last Saturday’s 52-21 win over the Wisconsin Badgers. So, let’s see what the Buckeye fans had to say.
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Question 1: What was your biggest takeaway from Ohio State’s win over Wisconsin?
This, to me, is the perfect encapsulation of the Ohio State fandom, nearly one-third of respondents saw a 31-point win over a perennial power and thought, “Dude, our corners suck,” while a group close behind thought, “Our quarterback is the best in the country.”
Of course, both things can be true at the same time, but I do think that it shows just how different the approaches of different members of the fan base can be; some will always focus on the negative, and some will always focus on the positive.
For me, I don’t think that Jyaire Brown and JK Johnson played all that badly against an admittedly underwhelming Wisconsin passing attack. Are those the guys that you want to be your starters heading into a College Football Playoff matchup? Probably not, but I did not come away from last weekend especially worried about the corners.
After all, who in the Big Ten are you really worried about beating the Buckeyes through the air? Maybe Penn State, I guess, but in the regular season, really it just comes down to Maryland and TTUN. And fortunately for the Buckeyes, those are the last two games on their schedule; so, they have as much time as possible to get guys healthy and coached up to take on what approaches being a dangerous passing attack.
I also didn’t think that Stroud’s performance a week ago was particularly mindblowing. It was great, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve seen him look sharper, so I didn’t come away with a new overwhelming appreciation for him. I already thought he was the best QB in the country by a considerable margin, so maybe that option just doesn’t count for me since I was already there.
Personally, I would have probably gone with the “What’s going on with the injuries?” option. Not because I think there’s some major issue or grand conspiracy lurking in the shadows of the Woody, but just out of genuine curiosity. Ryan Day has never been super comfortable sharing information about player injuries, and I can understand and accept that, but it has reached a new level of confusion in recent weeks.
Whether due to purposeful misinformation, covert subterfuge, or just plain disregard for the entire process, the availability report has become progressively less helpful as guys who are listed as active show up in street clothes, and players who have had nary a word mentioned about them being injured are being listed as unavailable.
Day has said that he would try to make these reports more accurate, by putting them together closer to game time, but I’m still just genuinely curious about what’s going on with the team’s injuries.
Question 2: If Rutgers makes Saturday’s game close, it will be primarily because:
At this point, we still don’t know if either of Rutgers’ top two quarterbacks will play against the Buckeyes this afternoon, but I do agree given these options. If dual-threat QB Gavin Wimsett does play and is able to show off his running ability, much like Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn did, that would be how the Scarlet Knights could keep it close, in my book.
I don’t think that really has any shot of happening, whether Wimsett plays or not, but in this hypothetical world where the game is close coming down the stretch, that would be my explanation.
Question 3: What will be the outcome of Saturday’s game against Rutgers?
The Buckeyes opened up as 41.5-point favorites, but the spread has dropped to 39.5 points as of publication time. Nonetheless, nearly one-third of respondents think that Ohio State will cover that original line, winning by at least six touchdowns. An even larger plurality picked the Buckeyes to win by at least 35 points, so clearly everyone believes this will be another beat down.
On the podcast this morning, I did pick OSU to win 52-13, so I guess that’s not a cover. I might be persuaded to go 55-13, just to get over the line, but I’ll stick with what I have on record, even though I would not be surprised if Ohio State shuts out Rutgers altogether.