5 Things We Learned: Ohio State
Oct 2, 2016
(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
If you were expecting a grand upset when Rutgers visited Ohio State Oct. 1, you were sorely disappointed. Ohio State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) asserted its will on the visiting Scarlet Knights (2-3, 0-2) en route to a 58-0 Buckeyes victory. The blowout loss is not what Rutgers fans wanted, but sometimes hard lessons are the ones that give us the most education. Let’s take a look at Five Things We Learned: Ohio State.
Rutgers is not on the same level as Ohio State.
The first quarter looked like Rutgers might be able to hang with the hosts, as the quarter ended in a 6-0 advantage for the Buckeyes. Ohio State put the hammer down in the second quarter, scoring 24 points to put the game pretty much out of reach at halftime. OSU outgained RU 669-116, including an outlandish 410 yards rushing. If this was a measuring stick game, the gap is huge.
Injuries are mounting.
Barry Alvarez can complain all he wants about Wisconsin’s schedule, but running the gauntlet is standard for Rutgers in the Big Ten. It’s taking its toll on the Scarlet Knights, who lost several players to injury in the Ohio State game (status unknown). Sometimes injuries are an indicator of a talent gap, which was apparent in Columbus.
RU needs offensive playmakers.
The good news is we finally got to see freshman Tylin Oden throw a pass. The bad news is he was 0-for-4. Starter Chris Laviano wasn’t much better, completing just three of 12 attempts for 33 yards. The pair missed RU’s final nine pass attempts and did not complete a pass in the final three quarters.
Rutgers has scored seven points in eight quarters of Big Ten play this year. The Scarlet Knights never threatened to score on Ohio State, due in part to a stifling Ohio State defense and an inept offense. Several drops helped sink the passing game, and the run game managed just 83 yards on the ground.
Yes, Rutgers is without playmaker Janarion Grant the rest of the season, but the Scarlet Knights have to find a way to replace his impact through multiple sources. The switch to the power spread will continue to experience growing pains unless a QB and other players step up.
Special teams are a weakness at Rutgers.
This is probably the area where Rutgers most misses Grant, its most dynamic playmaker. Josh Hicks and Justin Goodwin combined to average just a shade over 12 yards per kickoff return. The punt game was similarly uninspiring, as Michael Citron averaged 37.3 yards per punt at Ohio State. Rutgers has looked shaky on special teams all season with no fix in sight. Teams should be improving by the fifth game of the season.
The season is still alive.
No Rutgers fan wanted the Scarlet Knights to be under .500 through the first five weeks. But let’s face facts. Washington is a really good football team, and the Iowa-Ohio State-Michigan run is the most difficult of the year for the Scarlet Knights. After facing three top-10 caliber teams in the first six games, the Knights have maybe one or two ranked teams over the second half – perhaps zero.
Here is the schedule the rest of the way: Oct. 8 vs. Michigan; Oct. 15 vs. Illinois; Oct 22 at Minnesota; Nov. 5 vs. Indiana; Nov. 12 at Michigan State; Nov. 19 vs. Penn State; and Nov. 26 at Maryland. The games over the final half of the season are within grasp if Rutgers plays better against the run and finds a viable quarterback.