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Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview and Prediction

Chris Ash

Chris Ash

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights return to Ohio Stadium, this time with a familiar face at the helm. Former Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chris Ash is in his first year as the head coach at Rutgers. Ash has Rutgers at 2-2 entering this game against Ohio State, coming off a close home loss to Iowa, 14-7.

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Ohio State begins Big Ten play well rested, coming off a bye week. While Ohio State is basking in a 3-0 start for the 2016 season, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is guarding against any signs of complacency within his young squad. With so many games remaining in the 2016 season, all within the B1G, Meyer cannot allow his team to take any opponent lightly.

Rutgers at Ohio State

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 1 at 12 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

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Spread: Ohio State -38

Three Things to Watch

1. Who Will Replace Janarion Grant For Rutgers?
Grant, the Scarlet Knights’ leading wide receiver and arguably their top playmaker, sustained a season-ending ankle injury in the Iowa loss. Prior to the injury, Grant had accounted for about 35 percent of the team’s all-purpose yards, serving as a receiving, running, and return threat. Will Rutgers try to replace Grant through a committee approach, or will someone be able to step up for the Scarlet Knights?  

2. Will Chris Ash Be Able To Effectively Scheme Against Ohio State?
As simple and straightforward as this sounds, Ohio State is in kind of a challenging spot, as Ash was so heavily involved in the development of the Buckeyes’ defensive scheme for the past two seasons. Even Urban Meyer alluded to the difficulty of facing someone who knows Ohio State's personnel so well. In his weekly press conference on Monday, he said, "...we changed most of our defensive signals prior to this and offensively we're being very cautious.” How well Ohio State will be able to disguise defensive fronts and coverages will be worth keeping an eye on.

3. Will Another Wide Receiver Emerge Opposite Noah Brown For Ohio State?
Brown had a game for the ages against Oklahoma, scoring four touchdowns in the 45-24 victory two weeks ago. While Brown has nine receptions to go with his five touchdowns, the other leading receivers are Curtis Samuel (16 rec.) and Dontre Wilson (eight). Both Samuel and Wilson play the H-Back position for Ohio State, a hybrid running back/wide receiver position. Look for players such as Terry McLaurin or Parris Campbell to be targeted frequently by Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett.

Final Analysis

Ohio State has been absolutely dominant against Rutgers the last two years, winning both games by at least 39 points. The odds makers feel very good about the Buckeyes' dominance, as the betting lines have Ohio State as the overwhelming favorite. Urban Meyer will try to keep this one from getting out of hand, but right now, Ohio State has far too much speed and talent for Chris Ash and his Scarlet Knights to keep pace. 

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— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.