Ohio State Might Find Rutgers Tougher This Year

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 23: Darren Palmer of the UNLV Rebels makes a diving tackle on Parris Campbell
COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 23: Darren Palmer of the UNLV Rebels makes a diving tackle on Parris Campbell /

Ohio State vs. Rutgers preview.

Ohio State returns to Big Ten play this week traveling to New Jersey to take on an improved Rutgers team Saturday night.

Here is a quick preview of the game:

Last week against UNLV, the Buckeyes’ offense got off to its best first-half start this season.

J.T. Barrett was on fire distributing the ball to his stable of receivers throwing for five touchdowns in less than two quarters of work.

In three games against Rutgers, Barrett has torched the Scarlet Knights passing for 732 yards and 10 touchdowns. He likes playing this team.

To make it a fourth stellar performance, he’ll have to do it against a stingier defense.

Rutgers defense ranks high in almost every important statistical category.  It currently ranks No. 37 in rushing yards allowed per game and No. 27 in scoring allowing 18.3 points-per-game.  That’s not surprising given head coach Chris Ash is a defensive guru.

Sometimes stats can be misleading, but Rutgers held Washington’s offense to just 23 points in week one so it is pretty clear Ash has this unit headed in the right direction.

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Expect Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson to test the edge of the field with quick passes to beat the Cover 4 scheme Ash loves to play.  Barrett knows the defense well so he should be able to exploit the soft spots.

J.K. Dobbins will break 100 yards again with a couple of big runs and then sit as Mike Weber returns from injury.  Wilson needs to get Weber some work so he’s ready to share the load as the season progresses.

One area where Rutgers is highly vulnerable is punt return coverage ranking No. 123 allowing 20 yards per return.  Might be time for K.J. Hill to take one back.

Defensively, the Silver Bullets should not have trouble containing Rutgers’ offense that struggles converting on third down.  It also does not protect the ball very well.  Kyle Bolin already has six interceptions.

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The keys to the game for the Buckeyes are starting fast, finishing drives with touchdowns and protecting the ball. If they do all of that, Buckeyes cruise to a comfortable win.