The Buckeyes host Rutgers this Saturday for Homecoming weekend. The Scarlet Knights enter the game with a 2-2 record, but their loss against Iowa last week cost them more than a 3-1 start. They also lost Janarion Grant and Quanzell Lambert, their leaders on offense and defense, respectively, for the rest of the season. Grant had accounted for 35% of Rutgers’ all-purpose yards for the season, so his absence is a huge blow for quarterback Chris Laviano and the Rutgers offense. They will lean on their running game, which ranks 35th in the country at 220 yards per game. Even with Grant, their passing attack ranked near the bottom of the FBS, so I wouldn’t have expected them to have much success in the air against the Buckeye secondary anyway. The Rutgers defense showed up nicely last weekend and held Iowa to only 14 points, but they’re going to need a Herculean effort to slow down Ohio State’s attack.
As far as the Buckeyes are concerned, I hope there isn’t a letdown after the bye week. They need to come out with the same intensity they demonstrated in the first three weeks of the season. A nice win at home will go a long way toward getting them into a solid rhythm ahead of some tough road games in October. I expect J.T. Barrett, Mike Weber, and Curtis Samuel to have their usual busy day, but I’m most looking forward to someone other than Noah Brown to step up at wide receiver. After Brown’s performance against Oklahoma, teams will double-cover him until another Buckeye wide out proves to be a threat. Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell need to emerge this week to give Barrett another viable target outside of Brown and Samuel.
On defense, I expect to see the secondary shut down Rutgers’ lackluster passing game and focus on stopping the running game. Considering how the Ohio State defensive line and linebackers have been playing so far, I think Rutgers will struggle mightily to move the ball. This game shouldn’t be close, so the Buckeyes should have more young guys getting some much needed playing time in the second half.
SCORE: Ohio State 59, Rutgers 10
A Fan’s Playoff Rankings
- Alabama – Can’t really take anything away from last week’s win against Kent State, but Jalen Hurts continues to grow in that offense, and Joshua Jacobs successfully replaced Damien Harris after his injury. Next up is a struggling Kentucky team, which should be another easy win for the Crimson Tide.
- Ohio State – Hopefully the Buckeyes used their bye week to rest and heal up in preparation for the Big Ten gauntlet they’re about to run. Chris Ash and his Scarlet Knights come to town for the first time looking to upset his former mentor.
- Louisville – Mr. September Heisman was at it again last weekend against Marshall, putting up another seven touchdowns to bring his season total to 25 after just four games. The Cardinals have their toughest matchup of the season this weekend against the Clemson Tigers. The winner of this game will have the upper hand in the playoff debate.
- Clemson – Not an overly impressive offensive win against Georgia Tech, but the defense showed its grit by only allowing 124 yards of total offense against the triple-option running Yellow Jackets. The Tigers host Louisville in primetime on Saturday, and the loser faces probable elimination from the playoff picture.
A Fan’s Heisman Standings
- Lamar Jackson – Jackson has racked up 25 touchdowns in only four games; at this rate, he could reach 75 before the season ends! He probably won’t be able to maintain such a frenzied pace, but an impressive performance against Clemson this weekend would show he’s the real deal.
- J.T. Barrett – Barrett had a week off, but he remains in my No. 2 spot because of his emergence as a leader. Without him at the helm, I’m not sure the Buckeyes would be where they are at this point this season. Barrett has accounted for 13 touchdowns this season while leading the Buckeyes to a 3-0 start.
- Christian McCaffrey – Although Stanford struggled against UCLA, McCaffrey still managed to get 138 yards on the ground and a couple of receptions. He didn’t have any huge plays, but you can’t expect a highlight-reel game every week. He and the Cardinal have a big test this week when they head to Washington to battle the Huskies in a top 10 matchup.
- Donnel Pumphrey – Pumphrey also had a bye week last week, but he’s still my No. 4 because I don’t think anyone has done anything to unseat him. He’ll look to add to his FBS-leading 599 yards rushing this week against the South Alabama Jaguars, who’ve already knocked off Mississippi State this season.
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONEnull