Offense Confidence Level – 6
Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord had his worst game as a Buckeye last week against Wisconsin, turning the football over three times. Despite the pair of interceptions and the misfortunate fumble on Ohio State’s opening drive, McCord still finished the game with 226 yards passing with a pair of touchdown tosses. There are plenty of college football teams out there that would beg for a performance like that, yet as Buckeye fans, we have become accustomed to 300-yard and four-touchdown types of games from their QBs.
No one expects McCord to be C.J. Stroud or Justin Fields. Let’s face it, he is more of a game manager than a game breaker. McCord won’t need to be anything more than a game manager if Ohio State can continue to run the football as they did against the Badgers.
Henderson ran for 6.8 yards per carry, which was the best the Buckeyes have done this season. If defensive coordinators are going to have to start game planning on how to stop Henderson from beating them, then that brings an entirely new aspect to this offense that at times this season has looked more like a Honda than a Maserati.
The Rutgers defense is ranked ninth in the nation in total defense only giving up 276.8 yards per game. Ohio State, on the other hand, is averaging 428.8 yards of offense per game this season. I do believe the Rutgers defense is good, but I don’t believe they are top 10 in the country kind of good. Ohio State ran into this kind of defensive statistic before in Penn State and finished that game with 365 yards, which is 130 more than the Penn State defense has given up on average this season.
The one way Rutgers can pull off the miracle upset is by stuffing Ohio State’s running attack, making them one-dimensional, and then forcing McCord to turn the ball over. It is critical that McCord plays smart, doesn’t cough up the football, and gets the ball out of his hands and into the hands of his playmakers as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
If he does that, Ohio State wins comfortably. But therein lies the problem. McCord didn’t do a great job of that last week, which is why my confidence level is at a six for the offense this week.