After beginning the season 3-0, Rutgers lost to Michigan last week. They fell behind 20-3 by halftime, but clawed their way back and had the ball with a chance to tie late in the game. The Scarlet Knights certainly are not the nearly inept bunch from a few seasons ago. They’re a legitimate threat to anyone they play.
Here are a few things I think the Ohio State football team needs to do to get a win Saturday.
Fast start for QB – Through their first four games, OSU quarterbacks have gotten off to slow starts. Regardless if it is C.J. Stroud or Kyle McCord, that can’t happen Saturday. Get off to a good start, hit your open receivers, move the offense, and avoid 3-and-out possessions. If they are sharp early, completing passes, and making Rutgers defend the entire field, it will open things up for TreVeyon Henderson and the run game.
Blow up the line of scrimmage – The Buckeye defensive tackles have gotten much more aggressive in the last two games. That needs to continue against a team that rushed for nearly 200 yards against Michigan. Get penetration and disrupt the Rutgers run game. Once that happens, the linebackers need to fill their assigned gap. Don’t let them chew up yards and the clock, and control the game this way. Force the Scarlet Knights to throw the ball much more than they want.
Take advantage of man-to-man coverage – I don’t doubt for a second Rutgers head coach (and former OSU defensive coordinator) Greg Schiano is going to try to put a lot of pressure on Ohio State’s young quarterback. I think he will blitz every chance he gets.
When this happens, Rutgers will be in single coverage. Pick up the blitz, give Stroud or McCord time, get the ball to one of those outstanding receivers, and make the Knights pay for thinking they can get away with man coverage. On any blitz, one of Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, or Jaxon Smith-Njibga will be open. Exploit this enough in the early part of the game and Schiano will back off.
The Scarlet Knight’s three wins are not that impressive. Temple, Syracuse, and Delaware are not going to scare anyone (I know Syracuse is 3-1, but take a look at who those wins are against). That being said, I do believe Rutgers has to be taken very seriously, especially after the way they battled Michigan.
I think the Buckeyes will get a win, but I don’t think Greg Schiano’s team will go away easily.