Skip to main content

Rutgers vs. Ohio State Prediction: Buckeyes Look to Stay Perfect Against Scarlet Knights

Big Ten's No. 1 offense should be on display once again.

Rutgers has been a member of the Big Ten since 2014 and has never beaten Ohio State (0-8). As a matter of fact, the closest the Scarlet Knights have been to the Buckeyes was in 2020, when Ohio State won 49-27.

Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano seems to recognize the daunting task looming ahead of his team on Saturday as the Knights prepare to enter Ohio Stadium for Ohio State's homecoming game. 

"You need to hang in there," Schiano said earlier this week. "You need to play tough, and you keep looking up and there’s still a chance and then you keep going and it gets tighter and tighter, and that’s what you go in when you’re a market underdog and that’s where we are right now."

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 5

Similarly, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has been complimentary of his counterpart and his team. The Buckeyes may be heavy favorites, but Day spoke highly of Schiano.

"He's an excellent motivator, creates great relationships with his players," Day said. "Really can drive his whole program at a high level. I think he's an excellent leader."

Rutgers at No. 3 Ohio State

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 1 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: Big Ten Network
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Ohio State -40.5
Tickets: As low as $52 on SITickets.com

When Rutgers Has the Ball

The Scarlet Knights are hoping that quarterback Noah Vedral will return to pilot the offense. Vedral has been missing due to an upper-body injury, leaving Evan Simon in charge of the offense.

Rutgers has been balanced, with an average of 182 passing and 186 rushing yards per game, but certainly not prolific. The Knights rank second to last in the Big Ten in total offense and are 11th in scoring offense (28.5 ppg).

The running game has been a committee approach with Kyle Monangai (157 yds., 2 TDs on 42 carries) leading the way. But six different players have already registered double-digit carries this season.

Probably the most dangerous playmaker for Rutgers is wide receiver Aron Cruickshank. Not only does he lead the team in the three main receiving categories  18 rec., 156 yds., 2 TDs  but Cruickshank also is a dangerous return specialist. Look for Schiano and offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson to get the ball into Cruickshank's hands whenever possible.

The Ohio State defense has been resurgent under new coordinator Jim Knowles. The Buckeyes are holding opponents to only 16 points per game and are giving up less than five yards (4.8) per play. The focus will probably be on stopping the run since the Knights haven't been able to generate much production from their passing game.

When Ohio State Has the Ball

Quarterback C.J. Stroud is coming off a tremendous game in the 52-21 rout of Wisconsin. He completed 17 of 27 passes for 281 yards, five touchdowns, and an interception as the Buckeyes jumped all over the Badgers early and never looked back.

Stroud has not been negatively impacted by the absence of star wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, as Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, and Julian Fleming have all made strong contributions in the early going.

The ground game remains potent as well with TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams forming a devastating 1-2 punch. Both went for more than 100 rushing yards against Wisconsin. It's bad enough that this offense can connect on a big play at any given moment, now it also has the ability to wear down defenses thanks to the talents of Henderson and Williams combined with a formidable and physical front line.

Rutgers will need to pull out all stops and come up with a Herculean effort on defense and even that may not be enough to slow down the Buckeyes' high-powered offense. One of the key pieces to the Scarlet Knights' D is safety Christian Izien, whose contributions to his team go beyond what shows up in the box score.

Final Analysis

There's a reason why Rutgers has never beaten Ohio State. Schiano is slowly rebuilding the Scarlet Knights to make them more competitive in the Big Ten but the gap between them and the Buckeyes remains extremely large.

Prediction: Ohio State 56, Rutgers 7

Podcast: Week 5 Preview, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also is podcasting for Land-Grant Holy Land. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.

*Price as of publication.