56-17 in 2014. 49-7 in 2015. Both Ohio State victories over Rutgers. Both by at least 39 points. The Las Vegas oddsmakers certainly remember those victories, as the Buckeyes have been installed as 38.5 point favorites over the visiting Scarlet Knights.
Want to know who else remembers those victories?
Former Ohio State assistant coach and current Rutgers head coach Chris Ash.
Ash makes his first return to Ohio Stadium since becoming the head coach of the Scarlet Knights back in January 2016. Largely and deservedly credited with helping Ohio State’s defense become more physical and aggressive in 2014, Ash is not the only member of the Rutgers coaching staff who has extensive ties to Ohio State. Offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer, special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Vince Okruch, defensive backs coach Bill Busch, running backs coach Zach Kuhr, strength coach Kenny Parker, defensive quality control assistant Adam Weber, and director of recruiting Adam Caltury all have spent time at Ohio State during the Urban Meyer era.
Another reunion takes place as it relates to this game, as this game marks the first time former Rutgers head coach and current associate head coach/co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Greg Schiano will take on his former team. There are four players on Rutgers’ roster who were spurned by Schiano years ago, only days before National Signing Day in 2012.
Below are three areas I will be keeping an eye on as the game kicks off from Ohio Stadium on The Big Ten Network at 12pm EST on October 1, 2016…
1. How Will Rutgers Respond Without Janarion Grant and Quanzell Lambert? Both Grant and Lambert were lost for the season in the Scarlet Knights’ close 14-7 loss to Iowa last week. Grant accounted for over 35% of Rutgers’ all-purpose offensive yards as a receiving, rushing, and return threat. Lambert was one of the best defensive linemen for Rutgers. Will the Scarlet Knights be able to adequately compensate for their absences?
2. How Well Will Ohio State Adjust Its Schemes? Up above in this article are several people who know Ohio State’s offensive and defensive tendencies quite well. Urban Meyer stated on his call-in show on September 29th that Ohio State has changed its signals, so this looks to be an interesting chess match between two staffs that know each other quite well.
3. Last Call For Freshmen Involvement: Several true freshmen have played in Ohio State’s first three games this season. As such an overwhelming favorite, it will not be surprising if the Buckeyes have a substantial lead heading into the second half. If a true freshman has not yet played this season, and does not get into the Rutgers game this weekend, chances are that the coaching staff has determined a redshirt season is in the respective player’s best interests.
Prediction: Urban Meyer has immense respect for Chris Ash and the other members of the Rutgers coaching staff, and does not want to embarrass them. The difficulty will be in the aforementioned backup time, as these players want to increase their playing time, and will play hard if given an opportunity. Throw in Rutgers’ injury issues, and I see the Buckeyes blowing out Rutgers with minimal effort. I am calling it Ohio State 63, Rutgers 10.