Urban Meyer (USA Today)

Game Preview: Ohio State vs. Rutgers

Ohio State comes off their bye week to face Rutgers at home in the Buckeyes first conference game. How will this game play out for the Buckeyes?

OVERVIEW: Chris Ash brings his troops into Columbus to face the undefeated Buckeyes Saturday, and it's clear Urban Meyer has a lot of respect for his former defensive coordinator. It's also just as clear that Meyer has never let sentiment get in the way of a good azz-whipping, and that's what I expect to happen Saturday afternoon. Ash is a great coach, but you need thoroughbreds to win the Derby, not plowhorses, and Rutgers has no thoroughbreds. 

WHAT IS THE KEY TO THE GAME FOR BOTH TEAMS? For Ohio State, the key will be continuing the type of play they've shown all year and build on that. They may try to throw it a little more this week, to try to get this passing game going. It will also save on wear and tear on Mike Weber, J.T. Barrett and Curtis Samuel slamming the ball between the tackles. Rutgers needs a minimum of five turnovers and a couple big plays to beat the Buckeyes. And a lot of luck. 

WHAT WILL OSU DO OFFENSIVELY? Again, I think they throw it more against Rutgers than they have all year. I believe Meyer knows he needs a better passing attack against the stronger defenses than they've played to date. He knows Noah Brown is reliable, but what other wideout is a consistent threat? We may see a lot of receivers catch the football Saturday. I would think Joey Burrow gets some snaps with the first unit against Rutgers as well, possibly in the first half. 

WHAT WILL OSU DO DEFENSIVELY? Rutgers will not be able to run the ball at all, but they will keep trying. They need to run clock and eat up yards to keep it close. They will also feature a short passing game to accomplish this goal. At some point, the pass rush will eat them up and I expect more turnovers today. Someone, either Hooker or Lattimore, will take a Pick-Six to the house. Bank That. 

THE OFFENSIVE "WOW" PLAYER: Can't keep picking Curtis Samuel every week, although he's always a good choice. This game should be the J.T. Barrett day to wrack up lots of passing yards. Look for Barrett to build up his stats against the Rutgers defense.

THE DEFENSIVE "WOW" PLAYER: Again, Malik Hooker is always a great choice, but let's roll with Jerome Baker against Rutgers. This is the week he shows why he's not coming out of the lineup until he leaves OSU. A pick, a forced fumble, and several big hits. 

THE VEGAS LINE: OSU -38 is right where it should be and I don't see any value there at all. The Buckeyes should score 50, but Rutgers might get 14. If someone wanted to give 38, remember that Meyer might call of the dogs when you need that last score. But he also might be up 70-7 before he calls off the dogs. For me, it's too tough to take. The total is also right on the money at 59, but I think this number might be a little more vulnerable to the over. All in all, there's no pick for me on this game but I might lean to the over 59. For a bonus pick, I'm taking Clemson to beat Louisville Saturday night in Death Valley. 

THE PICK: OHIO STATE 52   Rutgers 13. 


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