The Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-1) will host the No. 12 Ohio State Buckeyes (3-1) this weekend for the eighth time in as many years.
Historically, this game has been nothing special. However, the 2021 Scarlet Knights have been competitive in every game this year and have really turned a corner with Greg Schiano leading their resurgence. Add that to the fact that Ohio State hasn't yet been the dominant team they've been in recent years and this game has potential to be a battle.
Rutgers enters this weekend having notched wins against the Temple Owls, the Syracuse Orange and the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens. Their only loss was to Michigan last weekend, a game in which the Scarlet Knights fought hard and nearly beat the Wolverines.
In their opener against Temple, the Rutgers offense put up 61 points, which is the most they’ve scored in a single game since 2017. This start to the season is also impressive due to the Scarlet Knights having opened 2-2 or worse in their first four games every season since 2014.
The Rutgers offense is led by quarterback Noah Vedral. Vedral boasts a 67.9 percent season completion percentage and has thrown for five touchdowns, more than half of what he scored all off last year.
The quarterback matchup is one area in which Rutgers may have an advantage against the Ohio State Buckeyes this weekend.
The Buckeyes still appear to be experiencing some growing pains with redshirt freshman C.J. Stroud. Vedral, on the other hand, is a senior, and has had more than enough time to settle into himself and grow accustomed to the pace of college football.
The other place the Scarlet Knights may be ahead in is on defense. Rutgers hasn't allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points all season. The Scarlet Knights also have the seventh-best scoring defense in the nation (13.5 points per game).
A major reason for Rutgers’ success on defense is linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi. The senior from Far Rockaway, New York has tallied 21 solo tackles and 3.5 sacks already this season. Fatukasi is also second in the Big Ten in tackles for loss with 6.5.
If Rutgers defies the odds and defends home turf against the Buckeyes on Saturday, it’ll be their best record through five games in seven years. To do so however, they’ll have to slow down an Ohio State rushing attack that has been practically unstoppable the last two weekends.
The Buckeyes are currently favored by 15 points, according to SI Sportsbook.
Rutgers has proven themselves to be better than their Scarlet Knights of old, but is this new and improved team capable of dethroning the king of the Big Ten? We’ll just have to wait and see.
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