Chris Ash’s return to Columbus is likely to be a rude one. The questions all week to the coaches at Ohio State have been about Ash knowing what the Buckeyes are going to run at him. The problem is, that goes both ways and the Buckeyes simply have the better athletes. In addition, Rutgers is without its best player in Janarion Grant, who was injured in a 14-7 loss to Iowa a week ago. Couple that with the fact that Rutgers put up just seven points on Ohio State a year ago with one of the best wide receivers in the Big Ten and I think Chris Ash’s return for Ohio State’s Homecoming will be an unwelcome one for the Scarlet Knights.
Offensively, Ash might be able to scheme up the Buckeyes for a drive or two, but when it comes down to it, Ohio State just has the better athletes. After watching the way Ash transformed the Buckeye defense in the two seasons he was in Columbus, I have no doubt in his ability to coach and maybe even outscheme OSU for a while, but ultimately, the Buckeye coaching staff is more experienced and has more talent to work with.
In the end, Ohio State creates too many big plays for the Scarlet Knights to hang around.
SCORE: Ohio State 45, Rutgers 3
Chris Ash returning to Ohio Stadium and Earle Bruce dotting the “i” in Script Ohio may be the two most intriguing aspects of this game when it’s all said and done. Ohio State having two weeks to prepare and rest will not bode well for Rutgers, especially with the game being played in Columbus.
Furthermore, the Scarlet Knights lost the best player on their team in Janarion Grant when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury against Iowa on Sept. 24. He did it all for Rutgers in the first four games this year. He ran for 138 yards, had 210 receiving yards, threw a touchdown pass and scored a touchdown on both punt and kickoff returns. Ash is a talented coach, but I’m not sure he’ll find a way to replace that kind of production in a week.
With Grant, Rutgers didn’t really have a realistic chance of winning this game. Without Grant, Rutgers has zero chance of winning this game.
And as if losing him weren’t enough, the Knights also lost starting defensive end Quanzell Lambert to a season-ending knee injury.
Under these circumstances, I anticipate the OSU defense will bring Rutgers’ offensive attack to a halt and the Buckeye offense will thrive. Quarterback J.T. Barrett will be given the necessary time to make the right decisions in the passing game, and running back Mike Weber will bludgeon defenders on his way to another impressive performance.
SCORE: Ohio State 56, Rutgers 10
It seems like Ohio State has taken me by surprise every week so far this season. I was sure of wins against Bowling Green and Tulsa, but neither happened the way I expected. I ended up picking a close win over Oklahoma, but the Buckeyes shocked me with their dominating play.
So, with a bad Rutgers team coming to town, what should I expect?
On one hand, Ohio State proved against Tulsa that it can start slow, but even if that happens I’m not sure Rutgers is good enough to make the Buckeyes pay. So, on the other hand, everything that has happened so far this season suggests that Ohio State will arrive at Ohio Stadium on Saturday ready to roll.
I expect the Buckeyes to have a fast start against the Scarlet Knights, and Rutgers’ ability to utilize Chris Ash’s knowledge of Ohio State will be mostly irrelevant. Sure, he knows the players and schemes, but that doesn’t mean Ash’s team has the personnel to stop the Buckeye offense or score on the Silver Bullets defense. Ohio State is well deserving of its top-two ranking at this point in the season, and Rutgers will be playing without its best player – wide receiver Janarion Grant.
The Scarlet Knights could hit on a couple of big plays and score a touchdown or two, but they’ll need to double, triple or quadruple that output to have a chance.
This Homecoming matchup won’t be a problem for Ohio State, and the Buckeye defense will score a touchdown once again.
SCORE: Ohio State 52, Rutgers 17
It’s been interesting to me to see some of the coverage around Ohio State this week focusing on how the Buckeyes are facing former defensive coordinator Chris Ash when he brings his Rutgers team into Ohio stadium.
Yet, shouldn’t the converse also be true? Yes, Ash will have some insight into the way Ohio State likes to attack opponents, but at the same time, the Buckeyes will know just about everything they need to know about Ash’s defense as well. Urban Meyer admitted as much this week, saying the film shows a defense that mimics OSU’s, meaning the Buckeye offense has practiced against this specific scheme for the past two-plus seasons.
Of course, at the end of the day, none of this really matters. The Buckeyes could have a hangover – something that might happen after a week off and a resounding win in the game prior – and still win this game by five or six touchdowns. There isn’t a talent gap between Ohio State and Rutgers, it’s a talent gulf.
Time will tell whether Ash is the guy who will be able to convince New Jersey’s prodigious talent – think Eli Apple and Noah Brown – to stay home and build a winner, but if he does, that will be years down the road. Right now, the Scarlet Knights are a work in progress, though steps have been made in recent weeks.
Be that as it may, Ohio State is a much better team and program right now than Rutgers, and the result will show on the field Saturday during an easy win.
SCORE: Ohio State 52, Rutgers 10
I didn’t have much faith that Rutgers would be able to keep things close with Ohio State before Janarion Grant got injured, and with the do-everything receiver out, I have even less confidence in the Scarlet Knights. Grant was 17th nationally in all-purpose yards through four games with 163.8 yards per game. He is far and away the team’s leading receiver with 20 catches for 210 yards while he’s second in rushing with 138 yards and a dazzling 8.6 yards-per-carry average. Add in 112 punt return yards, 195 kick return yards and a passing touchdown on a trick play for good measure and it’s clear that Grant was the Scarlet Knights’ must valuable weapon.
That’s all to say that Rutgers’ best chance to hang with the No. 2 Buckeyes was for Grant to get loose multiple times – a long shot against a stout Buckeyes defense – and without him this game is even more likely to get ugly.
Without Grant, Rutgers’ already anemic pass offense (111th nationally) will be even worse off and the Buckeyes will sell out against the run, an area that the Scarlet Knights have been competent with 220.25 yards per game (34th nationally). I think that Ohio State is effective at slowing down Rutgers on the ground and trusting their elite secondary with little to no extra help. That coupled with the fact that the Scarlet Knights will be playing from behind will force the visitors to go to the air, and I expect another interception by the defense. I’ll give this one to Denzel Ward.
On offense the Buckeyes will face little resistance. I expect Curtis Samuel to total at least 150 yards of offense while Mike Weber will get another 100-yard performance against the No. 88 rushing defense.
96 800x600 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE SCORE: Ohio State 52, Rutgers 16