After easily covering the 19-point spread against Wisconsin in a 52-21 blowout, Ohio State is once again huge favorites as they head into their Week 5 contest against Rutgers in what will be the Buckeyes’ fifth-straight home game to begin the 2022 campaign. Sitting at 4-0, Ryan Day’s group is really beginning to hit their stride, putting together an impressive performance on both sides of the football in their dismantling of the Badgers. On the other side, Rutgers sits at 3-1 on the year. The Scarlet Knights navigated their non-conference schedule undefeated, picking up wins against Boston College, Wagner and Temple before dropping their B1G opener against Iowa this past week.
Ohio State’s offense looked exceptional from the get-go against Wisconsin, putting together a six-play, 88-yard opening touchdown drive to set the tone for the evening. C.J. Stroud was his usual self, throwing for 281 yards with five touchdowns while tossing his first interception of the season (compared to 16 total TD passes). The Buckeyes’ offense was incredibly balanced, with both TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams finishing the contest with over 100 rushing yards to compliment the air attack. Once again without Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the OSU offense got a big boost from Cade Stover, who caught four passes for 51 yards and a pair of scores in the victory.
The Buckeye defense was better than the final stats indicated. Outside of Braelon Allen’s 75-yard touchdown run — which came late in the game against mostly backups — the star running back totaled just 90 yards on 22 carries. Even with an incredibly thin secondary, with injuries to both Denzel Burke and Cam Brown, Jim Knowles’ unit held Graham Mertz to just 11-of-20 passing for 94 yards with one TD and one interception, hauled in by safety Tanner McCalister. Tommy Eichenberg continued his impressive start to the year, totaling a game-high 14 tackles, including two for loss.
For Rutgers, the offense just couldn’t get things going against a tough Iowa defense in a 27-10 loss to the Hawkeyes in Week 4. Quarterback Evan Simon threw for 300 yards, but only had the one TD pass to go along with two picks. The running game was especially lackluster, averaging just 2.5 yards per carry on 24 attempts totaling 61 yards. Wide receiver Aron Cruickshank, a former Wisconsin transfer, was one of the only bright spots for the Scarlet Knights’ offense, hauling in seven catches for 55 yards the team’s lone touchdown. The turnovers for Rutgers were especially painful, as Iowa returned both an interception and a fumble in the game for touchdowns.
Defensively, the Scarlet Knights have been solid this season. The unit has been led by defensive back Christian Izien, who has tallied a team-high 34 tackles with 2.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks through four games. Wesley Bailey has led the way along the defensive line, registering team-highs in both tackles for loss (5) and sacks (2.5). Deion Jennings has been strong from the linebacker spot, sitting just behind Izien with his 29 tackles. In the secondary, converted wide receiver Robert Longerbeam has hauled in a pair of interceptions this season, while also forcing a fumble. As a group, the Rutgers defense is allowing just 17.2 points per game, albeit not against the stiffest of competition thus far.
Ohio State’s offense will be a huge step up for that Scarlet Knight defense to handle, with the Buckeyes sitting third in the nation averaging 48.8 points per game. Rutgers has never won a game in this matchup since joining the Big Ten, having lost all eight of the previous meetings between the two teams. In fact, the Scarlet Knights have never even really come close, with the smallest margin of victory in the all-time series being Ohio State’s 49-27 win in 2020. In Greg Schiano’s two contests as the headman at Rutgers, his team has been outscored 101-40 against the Buckeyes. Expect another lopsided final score in Columbus.
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