Game Preview and Predictions: Rutgers at No. 2 Ohio State

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Scarlet Report breaks down the keys to the game in the massive challenge for Rutgers football against No. 2 Ohio State as well as score predictions.

Rutgers (2-2, 0-1) at No. 2 Ohio State (3-0)

Time – Noon, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

TV/Radio – Big Ten Network, 1450 AM WCTC, 710 AM WOR, Tune In App

Series – Ohio State leads 2-0

Last meeting – Oct. 25, 2015, Ohio State won 49-7

Coaches: Rutgers – Chris Ash (1st season, 2-2); Ohio State – Urban Meyer (15th season 157-27, 5th at Ohio State, 53-4)

Storyline Central

Next Man Up – Few players shoulder more responsibility for Rutgers than Jawuan Harris after the devastating Janarion Grant injury took away Rutgers' biggest playmaker. Harris is the so-called “next man up” in both the return game and at slot receiver. Harris has electric potential but potential does not win football games against one of the most talented defensive backfields in college football.

Student vs. Teacher – Chris Ash had many teachers as an aspiring head coach, and Urban Meyer was one of the most influential. Meyer's influence is all over the evolving Rutgers football program, and he now faces off against the man that helped him win a national title as a defensive coordinator. Not only is it a homecoming for Ash, but for many staff members including Vince Okruch, Bill Busch, Kenny Parker, Drew Mehringer and Adam Caltury.

Bad News Barrett – Ohio State star quarterback JT Barrett has 692 combined passing and rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in two games against Joe Rossi's Rutgers defense. Can Ash and Jay Niemann's rendition do any better? Barrett leads a powerful Ohio State offense against a depleted Rutgers defense which is down Quanzell Lambert. Starters Darius Hamilton, Trevor Morris, Deonte Roberts and Kiy Hester enter kickoff banged up as well.

Matchup to Watch

Rutgers CB Blessuan Austin vs. Ohio State WR Noah Brown

Top Rutgers corner Blessuan Austin has had some good games and some bad games since the transition to press coverage. This would be an important time for a good game. Brown, who chose Ohio State over Rutgers out of Pope John XXIII in Sparta, N.J., represents the Buckeyes' top scoring threat in the passing game. Brown is powerful and athletic with five of his nine catches going for touchdowns in the first quarter of the season.

Scarlet Knights win if …

Quarterbacks Click – It's no secret that quarterback struggles are one of the top issues for Rutgers football. For Rutgers to even keep this one competitive going into the final minutes, it starters with a perfectly-executed game plan at quarterback and precision in the passing game.

Buckeyes Win if …

Greg Schiano Brings “It” – Remember how scary the Rutgers defense was at its apex under Schiano? Well double the talent level and you have Ohio State. Ohio State has four defensive touchdowns in three games. Rutgers had nine offensive touchdowns in the same timeframe. A strong game for Barrett is inevitable, and the easiest path to victory is shutting down Chris Laviano like Ash did last year as OSU's play-caller.


Impact Player

RB Robert Martin – Don't look now but 358 yards at 6.2 per touch ranks the Harrisburg junior as the Big Ten's top rusher. Martin runs hard, runs fast and becomes the most important piece of the offense without Grant on the field. Martin may not throw like Grant but he is a strong runner with ability as a receiver out of the backfield. Martin has 11 runs for 66 yards in two career games against Ohio State. He has to double that tomorrow at the Horseshoe.

Something to Prove

WR Jawuan Harris – No one player replaces Grant's value and versatility for Rutgers but Harris has to give it the old college try. Harris and junior receiver John Tsimis pick up the majority of Grant's responsibilities at receiver and punt returner. Grant put up 673 return yards and two touchdowns in his freshman season but caught just three passes. How will Harris compare?

Looking to Build

DE Myles Nash – Darnell Davis may be the new starter but the biggest role change in the rotation goes to Nash. Nash will no longer be a pass-rush specialist. He instead becomes a key member in the rotation. After adding more than 60 pounds since his Rutgers arrival, Nash looks the part of a long defensive end, and it's time to play like it.

Freshman to Watch

QB Tylin Oden – Is this the week Oden gets a full, meaningful series? Does Rutgers give Oden a chance to air it out? Oden is clearly a significant piece of Rutgers' future plans at quarterback and reps at Ohio Stadium against Ohio State can only be good as a learning experience for the skinny true freshman.


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