For the first time since 2018, Greg Schiano will be on the sidelines of Ohio Stadium. What is going to be different is this visit will mark the first time Schiano will be prowling the sidelines of the Ohio State Buckeyes' next opponent, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers brought back Schiano as their head coach in an effort to get back to the glory days that they previously experienced when he was the head coach from 2001 through 2011. Schiano has a Herculean task to rebuild a program that woefully declined over the past few seasons.
So far this season, Rutgers sits at 1-1, with a season-opening win at Michigan State (38-27) and a home loss last week to Indiana (37-21). The road ahead is steep for Schiano, but the competitiveness displayed by Rutgers in the first two games has been evident.
Standing in the way of Rutgers' improvement is the reigning Big Ten juggernaut, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Coming off an impressive 38-25 road win at Penn State, the Buckeyes are 2-0 and should be feeling comfortable going into this night game against Rutgers, right? Not if Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has anything to say about it.
Day is well-aware of Schiano's coaching abilities and believes that brighter days lie ahead for Rutgers. Complacency is something that Ryan Day is certainly trying to avoid.
Rutgers at No. 3 Ohio State
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: The Big Ten Network
Spread: Ohio State -37
When Rutgers Has the Ball
Offensively, it would be fair to say that the Scarlet Knights are a work in progress. Greg Schiano has been able to supplement the team with players from the transfer portal, but Rutgers does not have a dominant offensive player who can effectively move the chains consistently on the ground or through the air.
Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral is an example of these offensive challenges. Vedral, a transfer quarterback from Nebraska, is a dual-threat as a runner and passer but has struggled with accuracy issues. Turnovers have also been a problem for Vedral, as he threw three interceptions in the home loss to Indiana.
Rutgers has been using a committee approach to running the ball, with Isaih Pacheco the Scarlet Knights' leading rusher for the season with 85 yards and two touchdowns. Besides Pacheco and Vedral (40 rushing yards, TD), other contributors include Kay'Ron Adams (63 yards, TD) and Aaron Young (31). Rutgers is only averaging around 114 yards per game on the ground.
The results through the air are not much better. Vedral has completed about 62 percent of his passes, with Bo Melton leading the way thus far with eight catches for 98 yards (12.3 ypr) and two touchdowns. Melton may find Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade assigned to him, which could make for an interesting matchup.
When Ohio State Has the Ball
Justin Fields has been nearly flawless this season, with 48 completions on 55 attempts (87 percent completion rate) for six touchdowns and no interceptions. Fields' mastery of the Ohio State offense has been on display the first two games of the season, and nothing lends anyone to believe that another exemplary game is just around the corner.
Fields has been the beneficiary of outstanding targets such as Garrett Wilson (18 receptions, 240 yards, TD) and Chris Olave (13, 224, 2), while also benefitting from a strong running game, courtesy of Master Teague III and Trey Sermon (combined 255 rushing yards, 3 TDs). Further complicating Rutgers' defensive dilemma is the emergence of tight end Jeremy Ruckert, who already has two touchdowns on just five catches.
A familiar name for Ohio State fans on the Rutgers defensive side of the ball is former Buckeye Brendon White, who contributed 12 tackles in the loss to Indiana.
Ohio State has put up more than 50 points on Rutgers every time they have played since the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten in 2014, and the only time they did not was in 2015, when the Buckeyes won 49-7. Greg Schiano has improved the competitiveness of the Scarlet Knights and is supposedly recruiting well to shore up the talent base, but competing against Ohio State is another level that Rutgers is not nearly close to realizing at this stage. Ryan Day will have the luxury of resting starters after the first half, allowing his talented backups the opportunity to gain some valuable game experience on Saturday evening.
Prediction: Ohio State 56, Rutgers 7
Podcast: Week 10 Preview and Predictions