Ohio State and Rutgers meet as Ryan Day and Greg Schiano are reunited. The two head coaches were both assistants at Ohio State under Urban Meyer, but are now facing off against each other in Big Ten Week 3.
Schiano is in his second stint as head coach at Rutgers. His first, from 2001-2011, came when Rutgers was in the Big East Conference. The Scarlett Knights were 68-67 under Schiano in his eleven years, and 5-1 in bowl games.
Schiano went on to coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but was fired after two seasons. Meyer hired him in 2016 to replace their defensive coordinator, Chris Ash, who was hired as the Rutgers head coach. But when Day was promoted to head coach in 2019, he decided not to keep Schiano.
Rutgers decided to bring Schiano back to replace Ash once again after Rutgers went 8-32 under Ash’s tenure.
Schiano won his first game back with Rutgers in their stunning 38-27 win over Michigan State.
This begs the question: is Rutgers good?
Only three week old, the Big Ten season already has its fair share of craziness. The Buckeyes hope one thing will remain the same: Ohio State will win decisively over Rutgers.
Ohio State vs. Rutgers Preview
Ohio State has played Rutgers only six times in their history. But the short series might be the most lopsided one in college football.
Over the last six years, the Buckeyes have won every single contest with an average spread of 46.5 points. The most points Rutgers has scored is 21, while the fewest they have given up is 49.
This will be Schiano’s first game against Ohio State in his career. He does not want a result like his predecessors had.
Rutgers Offense Against Ohio State’s Defense
Schiano has something that Rutgers hasn’t had since his first stint: a competent quarterback.
Noah Vedral is a transfer from Nebraska who started his career at UCF. The senior quarterback is a first-year starter, and already has more passing attempts this season than he did in two years at Nebraska.
Vedral is a decent quarterback with a good arm and athletic ability. But he has two problems this season he needs to overcome. First of all, he is inexperienced and even though he is a senior, he plays like a freshman.
All four of his interceptions have come when he failed to sense pressure or held onto the ball for too long and took a huge hit in the pocket. Ohio State needs to take advantage and put pressure in his face. Jonathon Cooper and Haskell Garrett have been the two best pass rushers for the Buckeyes so far, and they need to play like it against the Scarlett Knights.
Vedral’s second problem is that he has no supporting cast.
Isaih Pacheco is the team leader in both rushing attempts and receptions. He is Schiano’s and Vedral’s go-to-guy but only rushes for three yards a carry as a running back. He shouldn’t give Ohio State’s defense too much trouble.
The leader in receiving yards is Bo Melton with eight receptions, 98 yards, and two touchdowns. He’s their most dangerous receiving threat but is far from the best the Buckeyes have seen this year.
Other than Pacheco and Melton, there aren’t many playmakers on Rutgers’ offense. Vedral relies more on coverage busts than his receivers winning battles. The rushing game only averages 3.1 yards a carry. If Ohio State plays the way they should, Rutgers will struggle to score points.
A Solid Scarlet Knight Defense
The defense is what has kept Rutgers competitive this year. Specifically, the defensive line.
While the defensive line in general lacks strength, Schiano helps them with schemes. They can’t move the offensive line off the line of scrimmage, but they have sound gap discipline in the run game. Rutgers doesn’t produce many negative plays, but they produce plenty of short gains.
In the passing game, Schiano makes up for his defensive line’s weakness and moves players around at the snap. This means that Ohio State’s offensive line is going to have to communicate and keep their heads on swivels.
Outside of the front four, only one player sticks out. Tre Avery is a senior defensive back and is by far the best player in the back-seven.
Just like with Nebraska, the opponent will be better this week than what Ohio State is used to. However, also like Nebraska, the game still will not be close.