After walloping the Wisconsin Badgers 52-21 to open Big Ten play in prime time last weekend, the Ohio State Buckeyes will begin October with a fifth straight game at home by taking on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights as their first Big Ten East divisional opponent of the season. Greg Schiano and Rutgers enter coming off their first loss of 2022 at the hands of Iowa, a game in which the former OSU defensive coordinator saw his current team outscored by the Hawkeyes’ defense alone.
Now a third of the way through the regular season in college football, the Scarlet Knights head to Columbus as a massive underdog in Saturday’s afternoon matchup. Caesars Sportsbook figures the Buckeyes to be enormous 40½-point favorites and the game’s over/under total at 59.
Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:
Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Ohio State Buckeyes
Time/TV: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Big Ten Network
Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Ohio State -40½
Money line: N/A
Analysis: No money line available for this game speaks to the mismatch between these teams. Even if wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba ultimately misses his third game of the season, Ohio State seems to have figured out how to find an offensive groove without its star receiver available.
After failing to cover the spread or hit the over on projected point totals in their first two games, the Buckeyes have crushed both by well more than double digits in the past two weeks.
Rutgers on paper has some impressive numbers built into their performances thus far, currently giving up the 35th-fewest passing yards per game nationally as well as the second-fewest rushing yards. However, the Scarlet Knights have also played the 17th-weakest strength of schedule, and of their record’s three FBS-quality opponents, none rank higher than 115th in yards on the ground per game.
The concern for the Scarlet Knights in keeping the margin from exploding rests with their offense, which averages the 21st-least passing yards per game. Rutgers has only one passing touchdown against three interceptions in games against FBS-level competition. Ohio State’s secondary has several injury challenges, but the defense still held Wisconsin to barely over 100 passing yards a week ago despite sitting its two starting cornerbacks and the Badgers playing from behind multiple scores almost the entire evening.
Schiano figures to pull out all available tricks to make life difficult for his former employer, but the Scarlet Knights have not yet come close this season to facing the level of talent the Buckeyes boast on offense. Betting on a spread north of 40 points carries too much risk, but in Ryan Day’s three games as head coach of the Buckeyes against Rutgers, the scoring total between teams has gone beyond 59 each time. As such, taking the over may be the best bet.
Prediction: Ohio State 55, Rutgers 10