Rutgers and head coach Kyle Flood was only getting one shot Saturday with the clear talent disadvantage in a tough road environment.
When the opportunity came with 10 minutes left in the second quarter, they blew it.
Finally stopping the Ohio State offense in a two-score game, hopes collapsed on a Janarion Grant fumble. The sophomore receiver’s ill-advised cutback from within his own 10-yard line turned into a forced fumble, a touchdown and the momentum spark in a 56-17 blowout.
“What I said to the team is, ‘today we’re 0-1,’” Flood said. “Our goal is to be 1-0 each week. Today we’re 0-1. We need to own that. And we need to own that as a coaching staff. We need to own that as players. And then when we get back together tomorrow, we need to see why.”
Rutgers (5-2, 1-2) took strike one at the start of its excruciating three-game stretch, and has six days to right the ship before a road trip to see No. 19 Nebraska.
The Scarlet Knights went 1-1 in 2013 after losses of 30 points or more. The responsibility falls onto team captains to flush the worst loss in the Flood era and in the last nine years of Rutgers football.
“It’s not a good feeling, but we know we’ve got a long season left and a few games to prove that we’re a good football team,” said captain Gary Nova, who was 17-of-28 for 192 yards with an interception and four sacks. “We know we’re a good football team. I think coach Flood said it best. When you’ve got two good teams playing against each other, the margin of error is so small.”
Flood addressed the loss with the media in the bowels of historic Ohio Stadium.