|Matchup Preview | Oct. 24, High Point Solutions Stadium, 8 p.m., ABC.|
|Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0, 3-0)|| Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-3, 1-2)|
Five Fast Facts About Rutgers
1. The Scarlet Knights rallied back from a 25-point deficit in the second half to beat Indiana on the road, 55-52, in the highest scoring game in regulation on in the history of Rutgers football. RU trailed by 25 with 5:25 left in the third quarter and scored 28 unanswered from there to win. It tied the school record for points overcome to win, also happening at Maryland (down 35-10 with 2:52 leO in the second quarter, won 41-38) in the 2014 regular season finale. Both Rutgers road Big Ten wins have involved erasing a 25-point deficit.
2. Robert Martin rushed for three touchdowns and Leonte Carroo had three receiving TDs in the win, marking the first time in program history that has happened. Rutgers had 596 total yards, its most in a game since racking up 671 against Louisville in 2008.
3. Rutgers leads the Big Ten with a passing efficiency mark of 156.0 and with a third-down conversion rate of 48.7 percent. The team is also second in scoring offense (34.3), third in rushing offense (199.2) and fourth in total offense (448.8).
4. Star wideout Carroo has nine touchdowns this season in 13 quarters played, one off the school record for touchdowns in a season. He owns 10 career mulO ple-touchdown games and five with three scores.
5. Rutgers is 0-4 all-time vs. the No. 1 team in the nation, last facing that team in 2002 when it lost to Miami, and has just two wins vs. top-10 foes in program history. The Scarlet Knights beat No. 3 Louisville in 2006 and No. 2 USF a year later.
OHIO STATE RUSH OFFENSE vs. RUTGERS RUSH DEFENSE
Although the Scarlet Knights are not big up front, they are quick and athletic. Linebackers Steve Longa and Quentin Gause are particularly impressive in how they rally to the ball and tackle. Despite missing star tackle Darius Hamilton for most of the season because of a lower-body injury, Rutgers has posted solid numbers against the run, but aside from Michigan State (196 yards), the competition has not been at the level of the Buckeyes. Ohio State has gotten the running game back in gear after struggling with some odd fronts early in the season. EDGE: OHIO STATE
RUTGERS RUSH OFFENSE vs. OHIO STATE RUSH DEFENSE
Rutgers coach Kyle Flood spoke often in the offseason about having five talented running backs to spread the ball around to, and three of them have proven to be productive players in the first half of the season — Paul James, Robert Martin and Josh Hicks. They have managed to carve out consistent gains despite sub-par offensive line play, but big plays have been at a premium for the Scarlet Knights. Ohio State has been a bit schizophrenic against the run, so a team intent on getting yards on the ground to keep the game close may be able to do just that. The Buckeyes might give up some short gains to make sure they are covered on the back end, but that shouldn’t be alarming if it works out that way. EDGE: EVEN
OHIO STATE PASS OFFENSE vs. RUTGERS PASS DEFENSE
After losing one of its likely best cornerbacks (Nadir Barnwell) to ineligibility and an off-field incident, the Rutgers pass defense has largely struggled this season. The Scarlet Knights are very young in the defensive backfield, with freshmen starting at both corners and potentially another at safety depending on the health of redshirt freshman Kiy Hester. They haven’t been hurt by big plays as much as teams have been able to consistently make productive gains through the air. Ohio State has shown the ability to do both with its quarterbacks and wide receiver developing a better rapport as the season has gone on. There should be plenty of opportunities for the Buckeyes to pad their stats through the air. EDGE: OHIO STATE
RUTGERS PASS OFFENSE vs. OHIO STATE PASS DEFENSE
After winning the preseason quarterback battle, sophomore Chris Laviano has been solid if unspectacular for the most part so far this season for the Scarlet Knights. He does not have a huge arm, but the short passing game has worked fairly consistently. Big plays have been at a premium, but that changes drastically when star receiver Leonte Carroo is on the field. Though he has had to sit out for two different disciplinary issues, Carroo had posted an amazing 14 catches for 315 yards and six touchdowns in only 2 1/2 games heading into a clash with Indiana’s suspect secondary. Ohio State has been susceptible to big plays in the passing game but taken away short gains most of the season, so this could get interesting. EDGE: EVEN
Neither of these teams is likely to want to get into a field goal kicking match as neither has relied much on that unit. Janarion Grant has already run back two kicks and a punt for touchdowns for the Scarlet Knights, who are also statistically among the best teams in the Big Ten as far as kickoff coverage. The latter can also be said of the Buckeyes, though they are yet to break a long one. Cam Johnston should give the Buckeyes the edge at punter, though. EDGE: OHIO STATE
After getting slapped around by Ohio State last season, Rutgers should be plenty motivated to give the reigning league champs a better look this time around, especially with a night home game. The Scarlet Knights already showed they know how to take advantage of such an atmosphere by pushing Michigan State to the edge, and Ohio State could have a bit of a hangover from a high-profile home night game of their own against Penn State. EDGE: RUTGERS
Rutgers has some good athletes on both sides of the ball, but the Scarlet Knights are still not that close to competing in the Big Ten, particularly the East division. They might be able to hang around for a while, but Ohio State will have to beat itself if there are going to be many nervous moments late in Piscataway. The Buckeyes have too much firepower on both sides of the ball, and they should be able to control the line of scrimmage going both ways even if Rutgers rips off a big play or two. OHIO STATE 50-22
The staff pick is an average of predictions by staffers Ryan Ginn, James Grega, Tim Moody, Jeff Svoboda and Blake Williams