Before I proceed with anything related to the upcoming game featuring Rutgers versus Ohio State, I want to express my sincere best wishes for any and all people impacted by Hurricane Ian. My podcast partner (@Mike36fan) whom you all know as The Grumpy Old Buckeye is a Florida resident, and I am guessing that many of you also know or have friends in the state of Florida.
Ohio State welcomes Rutgers in for homecoming weekend... despite the Buckeyes having not left the friendly confines of Ohio Stadium yet this season. Regardless that I am used to the concept of homecoming after you have been on the road, the Buckeyes will take on their B1G East Division foe to usher in the month of October.
Below are Three Things To Watch from Rutgers as Ohio State kicks off against the Scarlet Knights at 3:30 p.m. ET on The Big Ten Network. The lovely Mrs. Minnich and I are actually going to be in attendance in Ohio Stadium for the first time this season.
1) The Ohio State passing game vs. Rutgers’ secondary
I can already hear you complaining - “Minnich, are you really writing that you are concerned about Ohio State’s passing game versus Rutgers?!?” Just hold on, and I will explain.
As Chris Renne pointed out in his film preview article analysis of Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights tend to blitz frequently. For any and all of the Ohio State fans out there who are still somewhat salty about the Ohio State regression under Greg Schiano’s tenure as defensive coordinator, keep in mind that Schiano’s teams traditionally have been stronger on the defensive side of the ball.
Does Rutgers have enough to slow down Ohio State’s passing game? Doubtful, which is why I want to see how Schiano and Rutgers defensive coordinator Joe Harasymiak will try to defend against C.J. Stroud and his formidable wide receivers. Perhaps the Scarlet Knights will try to employ a strategy comparable to what worked well (up to a point) for Notre Dame and Arkansas State earlier this season, with the secondary playing deeper to prevent big plays by the Ohio State offense.
2) Rutgers’ running game vs. Ohio State’s run defense
As I wrote up above, Rutgers under Greg Schiano has been traditionally stronger on the defensive side of the ball, while offensively the Scarlet Knights have struggled to develop a consistently productive offense. On this week’s Silver Bullets Podcast, @GregPatuto joined Michael Citro and me to discuss Rutgers’ offensive strengths, one of which is a running back by committee approach.
Ohio State has been stingy against the run, only giving up an average of 111 yards per game on the ground. Look for the revitalized Ohio State defensive line and linebackers to clamp down on Rutgers’ running game, as the Scarlet Knights have struggled to develop an effective passing game, with injuries to their quarterbacks the first month of the 2022 season.
3) Which backups will have opportunities to shine in the second half?
The oddsmakers have Ohio State as 40-plus point favorites, and Ohio State has usually been able to name their score against Rutgers since the Scarlet Knights joined The B1G in 2014. All of that leads me into thinking that backups will get valuable playing time. Among the players I will be keeping an eye and ear out for is freshman RB Dallan Hayden, who shined versus Toledo. Look for Hayden and other backups to have ample opportunities for playing time, if the oddsmakers have this game accurately predicted.
Rutgers is no longer a pushover, but the Scarlet Knights just do not have nearly the depth and speed that the Buckeyes possess. This should be over by halftime, and I predict coach Ryan Day will be able to substitute liberally throughout the second half.
I have it Ohio State 56, Rutgers 7. Go Bucks!