Ohio State football: Different Rutgers, but expect same result

Ohio State has never lost to Rutgers in football since the Scarlet Knights entered the Big Ten in 2014, which is hardly breaking news.

Ohio State has scored 50 points or more in five of the six games the two teams have played against each other since 2014 and got 49 points the one time it didn’t reach 50.

Rutgers has not ever had the lead against OSU. Not for one second.

The Buckeyes have outscored the Scarlet Knights 327 to 48 in those six games. The combined halftime score of those games has been 191-14.

So, of course, Ohio State coach Ryan Day has spent a significant amount of time this week sending a message that this is no time to relax or take a win for granted.

He hasn’t talked a lot about not overlooking Rutgers in his press conferences. But he has talked quite a bit about how Ohio State has to focus on getting better this week.

“We have to make sure we’re on top of our game. We have to do a great job of recognizing the challenge they provide in all three phases. We have to continue to play like we did in the Penn State game — physical with energy and fast,” Day said earlier this week.

“The big message this week is how can we do things better? How can we practice better, how can we coach better, how can we teach better, how can we listen better, how can we protect ourselves from the virus better? How can we sleep better? How can we eat better?

“If we want to be great that’s what we have to focus on. If we want to be just another team then just continue what we’re doing. But if we want to be great we have to clean all these things up and get better in all these areas,” he said.

Day is just doing what every coach in America would do when his team is favored by more than five touchdowns.

And Rutgers has showed immediate progress since the arrival of head coach Greg Schiano and several graduate transfers, including former Ohio State safety Brendon White.

The Scarlet Knights’ 38-27 win over Michigan State in their opener suddenly looked even more impressive after the Spartans beat Michigan last week. And a 37-21 loss to Indiana last Saturday was not an embarrassment.

Does that mean Rutgers is ready to challenge Ohio State on Saturday night?

Of course not. Don’t be silly.

On one side, you have Ohio State, which has 4-star and 5-star recruits who can’t crack the starting lineup.

On the other side, you have Rutgers whose last five recruiting classes have ranked thirteenth, fourteenth, thirteenth, ninth and twelfth in the Big Ten. In those five years, Rutgers signed only three 4-star recruits who were high school students and just one of them is still in the program.

The unspoken part of a message like Day is sending to his players is that the only way you guys could lose to this team is if you think you can put it on cruise control this week. And that’s not going to happen.

The prediction: Ohio State 49, Rutgers 7.

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By Jim Naveau

[email protected]

Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.

Jim Naveau has covered local and high school sports for The Lima News since 1978 and Ohio State football since 1992. His OSU coverage appears in more than 30 newspapers. Naveau, a Miami University graduate, also worked at the Greenville Advocate and the Piqua Daily Call. He has seen every boys state basketball tournament since 1977. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0414.