No. 1 Ohio State (7-0, 3-0) vs. Rutgers (3-3, 1-2)
Time – 8 p.m., High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, N.J.
TV/Radio – ABC, 1450 AM WCTC, 710 AM WOR
Series – Ohio State leads 1-0
Last meeting – Oct. 18 2014, Ohio State won 56-17
Carroo or Do Not, There is No Try – A lack of practice reps during the week is meaningless for the experienced wide receiver. If he feels OK in pregame, Leonte Carroo will play against the Buckeyes but will he be anywhere near 100 percent? Rutgers needs the best receiver in the Big Ten to be on the field.
Bad News Barrett – Urban Meyer went with the more mobile of his two dynamic quarterbacks. J.T. Barrett is the better East to West option, and if his game last season against Rutgers is any indication (368 total yards and five touchdowns), watch out.
Knight Pulse – Rutgers pulled out all of the stops for a great night in Piscataway, and also hosts a strong visiting fan base. It’s a big night for recruiting on both sides with Meyer’s New Jersey presence and a special opportunity for Flood’s program. Rutgers is on national, prime time television. Rutgers is sold out. Rutgers breaks ground on a new athletics facility, and 100 other reasons make this a special night for the Garden State.
Matchup to Watch
Arguably the best college football player out there, Bosa is scary to any offensive line he faces. For Rutgers, Denman improved big time against Indiana, but needs tight end help against such a dynamic threat. Rutgers and Chris Laviano love to roll out, and that cannot happen if Bosa sets up shop in the backfield.
Scarlet Knights win if …
They Answer the Spread – There is enough film on Rutgers to see clear weaknesses against fast-paced offenses and teams that spread out the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers has some offensive firepower with or without Carroo, but cannot even consider a competitive game unless Joe Rossi and company find a way to slow down the Barrett barrage while significantly banged up at linebacker, safety and cornerback.
Buckeyes Win if …
Keep the Ball – Rutgers needs long drives and domination in the time of possession category. Ohio State does not have the same deep threats as last season, but is a dangerous and balanced offense. If Rutgers does not have Carroo, there is no home run threat.
LB Steve Longa – Longa was everywhere and overcame injury problems for a spectacular performance against Indiana. Ohio State represents similar offensive challenges and the veterans like Longa need to lead by example.
Something to Prove
RB Josh Hicks – He may be the most dynamic of the running back rotation, but he has been the least reliable in 2015 when it comes to ball security. Hicks cannot put the football on the ground against Ohio State because one mistake is all it takes.
Looking to Build
CB/S Anthony Cioffi – Another Saturday and it was another game-changing play from the junior defensive back. Cioffi is a ball hawk and arguably the Rutgers MVP on defense. Can he do it with the stakes even higher?
Freshman to Watch
CB Ronnie James – Jarius Adams will play even if Blessuan Austin made late-week strides, but what happens if another player goes down against Ohio State? James, who held an Ohio State offer in recruiting, has to be ready because both he and walk-on Brian Verbitski are one play away from potential starting responsibilities against the No. 1 team in college football.