Ohio State Biggest Road Favorite in History at Rutgers
These are bleak days for Rutgers football, very bleak, indeed, with the mid-season firing of coach Chris Ash and the looming arrival of No. 1 Ohio State for a Saturday afternoon beat-down accorded the largest road point spread in history by many betting services.
Yes, but things are not so bleak for the woebegone Scarlet Knights that OSU head coach Ryan Day is departing from his profession's default Cliche Mode in posing a possible doomsday scenario.
"If we’re going to take anything for granted (and think) we’re going to show up in Piscataway and win a game, that’s not going to happen," Day said. "We have to do a good job. Those guys are going to play really, really hard."
Day clearly thinks more of Rutgers' potential than the folks who set the betting lines.
The spread started with OSU (9-0) plus-50.5 points and has moved up since, to 52.5 points at one service, where the total is now set at 58.5.
So, the expectation is that if Rutgers does score, it won't get in the end zone, and that wager has historical support.
Ohio State has won all five meetings between the schools since Rutgers joined the Big Ten East by a collective, 271-27 margin. Rutgers has not scored a touchdown in its last three games against OSU, managing just one field goal in 58-0, 56-0 and 52-3 finals from 2016-18.
Ash parlayed his role as the Buckeyes' defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer in 2014 and 2015 into being hired at Rutgers, where he went 8-32 before being fired four games into this season after a 52-0 loss to Michigan.
Rutgers lost the next week to Maryland, 48-7, and the Terrapins lost to OSU on Saturday, 73-14.
So, do the math on that and the possibilities are foreboding when Ohio State visits Rutgers, which has lost 18 straight Big Ten games and 20 in a row to Power 5 opponents.
OSU defensive back Jeffrey Okudah wasn't trying to talk trash when asked what impresses him about the Scarlet Knights.
"I haven't seen anything so far on film that just sticks out to me," he said. "Nine weeks into the season, you see a lot of football. Right now we haven't seen anything that sticks out. We know they're going to bring their A game to the table and we have to bring ours."
The, 'A', in Rutgers' A game must stand for, apathy. Once Ash was fired, quarterback Arthur Sitkowski and running back Raheem Blackshear immediately benched themselves before the fifth game.
That preserves a season of eligibility for both players, who can now transfer to another school and play immediately in 2020 or return to Rutgers under a new head coach.
Sitkowski started the final two games he played this season and was in line to remain the starter.
Blackshear, a junior and team captain, led Rutgers in rushing (586 yards) and receiving (367) yards in 2018 and his 29 receptions this year still lead the team, despite missing the last five games.
Rutgers interim coach Nunzio Campanile didn't hide his disappointment over Sitkowski's and Blackshear's decisions.
"Am I disappointed by it? Incredibly," Campanile said. "Do I understand it? I guess so. I guess that's the way the world is now. I think that this is a game about your team and it's about sacrificing personal accomplishments for the success of the team. But that's the world they live in and they've got a lot of people telling them, 'Worry about you. Worry about you.' I get it."
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