Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Ohio State enters into their second conference game of the season still undefeated as they play host the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, a series that has been so one sided the Buckeyes have never lost to Rutgers, and the Scarlet Knights have never come within three touchdowns of the Scarlet and Gray. Ohio State has put up over 50 points in all but two of the eight meetings between the Scarlet squads. Don't expect this to change as the Buckeyes boast the best offense in the nation, averaging the second most points per game of any team and are second in yards per game after their beatdown of Wisconsin last Saturday. Ohio State comes into their Week 5 meeting against (3-1) Rutgers as a 40.5 point favorite.
As an offense, OSU have been very pass oriented behind quarterback C.J. Stroud, who has become the runaway favorite for the Heisman Trophy thanks to his 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns. The offense ranks 12th in the nation in passing yards per game. After Rutgers allowed 13 points to Iowa's offense a week ago, expect big numbers again from the Buckeyes.
They have been led by wide receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka through the first four games. Both have done well in their first full season of starting for the Scarlet and Gray, amassing 829 yards and 10 touchdowns as a unit, more than half of their teams receiving yards and touchdowns this season.
Despite this pursuit of air superiority, the Buckeye ground game has been vital to their success. They currently rank inside the Top 20 in rushing yards per game. Miyan Williams has been the standout back so far for the Buckeyes, averaging over seven yards per carry and has totaled over 300 yards and three touchdowns. TreVeyon Henderson has received more carries and has more yards, but his yards per carry is slightly less, although still impressive at 6.5 yards per carry. Henderson also has over 300 yards and three touchdowns. As much as Ohio State will garnish national attention for their ability to throw the ball, these two spectacular running backs are still very much a part of the legendary Buckeyes offense this season.
If you had looked back a season ago and told yourself that by the start of next season the Buckeyes would have one of the top defenses in the nation, you would have told yourself you were crazy and a liar, but now here we are and through four games of the 2022 season, Ohio State has looked absolutely untouchable defensively. They just got done shutting down one of the top running backs in Braelon Allen from Wisconsin last week, who was held under 60 yards in three quarters of play. He was able to grab 100 yards in the fourth quarter as the Buckeyes slacked off with a huge lead. Through three quarters, Ohio State only gave up a singular touchdown to the Badgers and held Graham Mertz to 50% passing, less than 100 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and an awful quarterback rating of 15.
Tommy Eichenberg, who finished last season with 64 tackles and zero sacks in 13 games, has been a breakout star in Jim Knowles defensive system and now in just four games on the season has 33 tackles and two sacks. Putting him on pace for 99 tackles and six sacks by the end of the regular season. This would be the most by a Buckeye since Raekwon McMillan in the 2016 season.
Rutgers offense comes into this meeting averaging just 367 yards per game. Putting them just barely inside of the Top 100 in the nation in yards per game. Their 28 points per game also has them ranked about middle of the nation so far this season. However, those numbers were heavily padded by a cupcake game against winless FCS bottom-feeder Wagner in a game that ended 66-7 in favor of the Scarlet Knights.
Outside of that game, Rutgers has averaged 16 points per game, which would put them as the 10th worst scoring team in the FBS. Rutgers has no passing identity and will be forced to rely on the run game to get most of the work done this week and considering what Ohio State just did to run-heavy Wisconsin, it's not good looking for Rutgers.
Rutgers has weapons all over the field, and if they had anything close to decent quarterback play, they might be able to do something, but that hasn't been the case. As a team, Rutgers has five passing touchdowns and four interceptions, just 726 passing yards and a completion percentage under 60%. The Scarlet Knights have three solid running backs Ohio State will look to neutralize in Kyle Monangai, Al-Shadee Salaam and Samuel Brown V. As a group, they have six touchdowns, 433 yards and average 4.6 yards per carry. This offense gives Buckeye fans nothing to lose sleep over in the buildup to Saturday's game, as the new Knowles' system should have Rutgers shutdown as soon as the ball gets kicked off the tee to start the game.
Rutgers' last visit to Columbus was a 49-27 victory for the Buckeyes. Rutgers will be lucky to see the plus side of 20 on offense this week against the better Scarlet squad. Ohio State led by Heisman favorite C.J. Stroud and his revamped defense will roll to victory this Saturday and finish off their five-game home stand with a crushing victory over the Scarlet Knights.
Score Prediction: OSU wins 66-12
How to Tune In:
TV: 3:30 p.m. Big Ten Network & the FOX Sports App
- Brandon Gaudin (play-by-play), Joshua Perry (analyst), Rick Pizzo (sideline)
Radio: 97.1 (The Fan) FM/1460 AM
- Paul Keels (play-by-play), Jim Lachey (analysis), Matt Andrews (sideline)
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