Since going 8-4 and winning a bowl game during its debut season in the Big Ten five years ago, Rutgers has hardly been a model of excellence for football.
Two wins are all the Scalet Knights (2-7, 0-6 Big Ten) have to their name in a season that has already seen them fire Chris Ash as head coach, and another home win doesn’t seem to be in the cards this week with the No. 2-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0, 6-0) coming to town with a spotless record and aspirations of playing the College Football Playoff.
The odds are some of the longest faced by any team in the 2019 college football season, which begs the question of whether Rutgers can do anything to avoid its fate in front of a home crowd. Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.
When and Where: Ohio State at Rutgers
- Location: HighPoint.com Stadium (Piscataway, N.J.)
- Date: 11/16/19 (Saturday)
- Time: 2:30 p.m. CT
- Coverage: Big Ten Network
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Ohio State Outlook
Losing to Rutgers would be inexcusable for an Ohio State team projected to reach the College Football Playoffs. From top to bottom, the Buckeyes are stacked enough to take on just about any team in the country with a current No. 2 ranking the latest AP Top 25 poll.
With a quality road matchup against Penn State awaiting for the Nov. 30 regular-season finale, Ohio State’s afternoon game against Rutgers is going to serve as more of a tune-up than anything else. Justin Fields is a quarterback well-deserving of Heisman Trophy consideration, while J.K Dobbins has rushed for more than 100 yards in two-thirds of the Buckeyes’ games this year.
The trick this week will be making sure not to fall asleep at the wheel against a low-level opponent. If the unbeaten Buckeyes want to contend for a national title, as they seem likely to do, winning isn’t enough. They need to jam the peddle to the floor and roll right over the Scarlet Knights.
In a word? The outlook is bleak for the Scarlet Knights. The only thing they might have going for them is a home-field advantage, but it would still take several other big things to happen for them to pull off the upset. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, though, Rutgers has a 0.3 percent chance to win the game, so let’s unpack just what would need to happen.
First up, the obvious: Defense, defense, defense. Maryland, which just Ohio State bludgeoned last Saturday a 73-14 win, did a similar chop job to Rutgers earlier in the season. A week off for a bye likely won’t have solved all of the Scarlet Knights’ problems, but they figure out a way to contain Fields and restrict an offense that through nine games has a nation-leading 62 touchdowns. A takeaway or two also wouldn’t hurt.
Of course, scoring isn’t going to be easy, either, as the Buckeyes have also given up just eight touchdowns in the same span. Rutgers has thrice been shut out this season, all against Big Ten defenses, and has thrown twice as many interceptions (12) as touchdown passes (6). That trend would need to change dramatically to make Ohio State sweat.
Betting Odds & Trends
- Ohio State (-52.5) vs. Rutgers
- Over/Under: 61.5
*All odds are courtesy of Odds Shark
Ohio State Trends
- 8-0 ATS in last 8 games
- 10-0 SU in last 10 games
- 9-0 SU in last 9 games against Big Ten foes
- 1-7 ATS in last 8 games
- Total has gone UNDER in 10 of last 15 games
- 2-18 SU in their last 20 games
Head to Head
- Ohio State has never lost to Rutgers in 5 series games
- Total has gone OVER in 2 of 5 series games
- Rutgers is averaging fewer than 6 points per series game
Really, you’re consulting a source other than your eyes for advice on this one? Just because college basketball is already filled with upsets in the early weeks of the season doesn’t mean you can expect something similar to happen in this sport, especially between two teams so far apart in every phase.
Pick: Ohio State is going to win and cover the spread without a problem, even if it completely shuts out Rutgers.