Ohio State's Likely to Blow Out Rutgers in Glorified Scrimmage
Now that Ohio State has averted disaster on Chase Young's future eligibility, the only looming hurdle blocking the second-ranked Buckeyes from an all-in stretch run is the capricious nature of a debilitating injury to a key player.
That can happen any time a team takes the field, and that's the only conceivable way OSU (9-0) comes out of a 3:30 Saturday afternoon kick at Rutgers (2-7) anything less than full speed ahead for closing games against No. 9 Penn State and at No. 14 Michigan .
Oddsmakers favor Ohio State by 52 points, a record in Big Ten games and what some books say is the biggest road margin in history.
And, it's a measure of the disparity in the programs' strengths, that OSU covering at that astronomical number is not at all a longshot.
The Buckeyes rank first nationally in total defense (214.8 yards) and passing yards allowed (126.6), third in rushing offense (295.2), fifth in total offense (535.9) and eighth in rushing defense (88.2).
Rutgers ranks first in being last in just about everything, most notably as it concerns the match-up with OSU, last in the Big Ten in scoring defense (36.7 points per-game) and rushing defense (198.7).
So, good luck to Rutgers interim coach Nunzio Campanile, who replaced former OSU defensive coordinator Chris Ash, who Rutgers fired as its head coach four games into this season.
"Honestly they're about as complete a football team as I've seen," Campanile said. "Really in all three phases of the game, they're pretty darned good. If there's a team out there better than them, I'd like to see it, but there's some pretty good teams out there."
Next to Rutgers, Maryland looked like a pretty good team when it hammered the Scarlet Knights, 48-7, five weeks ago.
Last week, OSU throttled Maryland, 73-14.
So, Maryland is 41 points better than Rutgers and Ohio State is 59 points better than Rutgers, does that mean OSU is 100 points better than Rutgers?
Probably not, but only because Ryan Day won't try to be.
Day, though, can take only 73 players on the road with him, and he's unlikely to take any walk-ons to mitigate the largest spread Rutgers has faced in 18 years.
Miami was a 44-point favorite in that game and won, 61-0.
Without any fear of using, Day can craft this glorified scrimmage any way he likes.
It's safe to assume he'll either be auditioning things that might prove useful against Penn State, Michigan and in the College Football Playoff, or sending up smoke screens with things opponents must practice for, but are unlikely to face.
Where the on-side kick OSU employed last week against Maryland falls on that spectrum is anyone's guess.
But two plays on which the Buckeyes scored touchdowns are certain candidates to return, if not some wrinkles off those.
On the first, K.J. Hill came in motion from the left side toward quarterback Justin Fields in shotgun formation. Hill then stopped his motion and ran into the left flat, where Fields hit him for a 4-yard score and a 21-0 lead.
On OSU's next possession, Hill showed the same motion from the right side, before veering back out into the flat. Maryland collapsed on him as Fields retreated, but didn't see Chris Olave come from the right side across the field into the left portion of the end zone.
That worked for another touchdown pass and demonstrates how Day likes to structure plays that feature various options and thus trick a defense.
Well, I think there’s a good balance right there of finding the right things that your guys do well, then also putting wrinkles in there," Day said. "We have to be able to execute at a high level in practice or else it’s not going to get called.
"Even if it’s on the call sheet, if we don’t feel great about the execution, we won’t do it. We’ll run another play that we feel better about. Maybe the next week it’s ready to go."
Given the Buckeyes' success offensively, and Rutgers' ineptitude defensively and every other way, it's hard to envision Day calling much for his starters that won't work on Saturday.
OSU has won all five games in the series since the Big Ten foolishly added Rutgers to the East. Rutgers has one field -- three total points -- in the last three meetings and has been outscored 271-27 collectively in those five defeats.
So, while these two teams are in the same division, it's a stretch to say they are in the same league.
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