Ohio State football Buck'Eyeing' the Big Ten: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Can Greg Schiano get the Scarlet Knights to a bowl game two years in a row?
Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano
Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

With the expansion of four new teams into The Big Ten, the conference developed a new scheduling strategy of rotating opponents, beginning with the 2024 season. Also new to The Big Ten is the elimination of divisions, with the end result that the top two teams within the conference at the end of the regular season will play in The Big Ten Championship Game.

It is with that thought in mind that prompted me to start this series to look at the other teams within The Big Ten that Ohio State will not be facing in the 2024 regular season. I am going to be reviewing these teams within The Big Ten in alphabetical order, giving my thoughts on their possible season outlook, as well as the odds that the team could wind up in The Big Ten Championship Game.

1. Illinois Fighting Illini

2. Maryland Terrapins

3. Minnesota Golden Gophers

4. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (2023 Record: 7-6)

"...This is a great opportunity for all of Rutgers to pull together to get us back to where we all know we belong. It will take everyone on this campus and in the State of Rutgers to get this done." ~ Greg Schiano, when coming back to Rutgers, 12/03/2019

Greg Schiano was hailed as a returning hero in 2019 by the Rutgers faithful after the Scarlet Knights football program had fallen back into the abyss in the years after he departed Piscataway for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011. Rutgers joined The Big Ten in 2014, and basically became a free win for the teams within the conference, specifically The Big Ten East.

To put it in context as it relates to Ohio State, Rutgers has never beaten the Buckeyes in ten years as a conference member. Last year's contest, which had its share of shaky moments for the Buckeyes (see the video clip of Jordan Hancock's interception below), was the closest Rutgers had ever come close to beating Ohio State, and that final score wound up being Ohio State 35, Rutgers 16. Last season marked the first time since Rutgers joined The Big Ten that Ohio State did not score at least 49 points, so credit Rutgers for their scrappy, gradual improvement.

In 2023, Greg Schiano was able to get Rutgers to the magic number of six wins even before the 11/04/2023 contest versus Ohio State, with Rutgers sitting at 6-2 at that point in the season. Greg Schiano has been able to eliminate the "easy win" label that was previously associated with Rutgers from 2014 through 2019. Rutgers defeated the Miami Hurricanes 31-24 in The Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl to finish up their 2023 season with their seventh win.

Next Scheduled Regular Season Game Against Ohio State: 2025, when Ohio State will be hosting the Scarlet Knights. The date of the game has not yet been announced.

Key Personnel Losses From 2023:

CB Max Melton was selected in the 2nd round of the 2024 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. Melton's departure to the NFL will certainly hurt a Rutgers pass defense that ranked 10th nationally.

Another key loss was QB Gavin Wimsatt's departure via the transfer portal to Kentucky. Rutgers was able to land former Minnesota QB Athan Kaliakmanis via the transfer portal, but Wimsatt's dual-threat abilities as a passer and runner will hamper the run-oriented offense of the Scarlet Knights.

2024 Schedule Outlook: Here is where it gets interesting. As written above, the Big Ten eliminated divisions, meaning Rutgers no longer has to run the gauntlet of Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State every season. As a matter of fact, check this out below...

Rutgers opens up on 08/29 versus Howard, hosts Akron on 09/07, then gets a bye week before traveling to face Virginia Tech on 09/21. Three winnable non-conference games to start the season.

Remember, the magic number for bowl eligibility is six wins. Giving Rutgers the benefit of the doubt in their non-conference slate, the Scarlet Knights will still face some formidable teams at home (Washington on 09/27, Wisconsin on 10/12, UCLA on 10/19, Minnesota on 11/09, Illinois on 11/23) and on the road (at Nebraska on 10/05, a brutal 11 pm ET kickoff at USC on 10/25, at Maryland on 11/16, and at Michigan State on 11/30). Getting those additional three wins to earn bowl game eligibility may not be easy.

Prediction for 2024: If pressed to give odds on Rutgers making it two years in a row to make a bowl, I will say that I believe that the odds are better than 50/50. Coming out of the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 3-0 record will be critical, but Greg Schiano has been slowly and methodically rebuilding Rutgers into a tough team on both sides of the line of scrimmage, as Ohio State experienced last season, and I believe that Rutgers can earn another winning season that will culminate in a bowl game invitation.


Look for the fifth part of the series next week, as we look at how the 2024 season may shape up for the UCLA Bruins, a new Big Ten member. As always, let me know what you think, and thanks for reading.