Gameday+ | Keys to the Ohio State-Rutgers game

Staff Writer
Buckeye Xtra

Don’t give Rutgers belief

Ohio State has beaten Rutgers 49-7, 58-0 and 56-0 the last three years, so the Scarlet Knights have little reason for confidence. It’s Ohio State’s job to make sure they don’t get any. Rutgers is expected to be better in coach Chris Ash’s third season and there’s hope for the future in New Jersey. It’s the Buckeyes’ job to jump on the Scarlet Knights early to quash any hope for an upset and then keep the foot down, which the Buckeyes didn’t do consistently enough against Oregon State.

Eliminate defensive breakdowns

The Buckeyes allowed seven plays that went for 25 or more yards last week, including touchdown runs of 80 and 78 yards and a touchdown pass for 49. Such problems can be attributed in part to first-game jitters with inexperienced players. Now it’s the second game and Buckeyes coaches have had a week to make corrections. Raheem Blackshear is good enough to make Ohio State pay for miscues.

Pressure Sitkowski

Quarterback Artur Sitkowski was the prize catch in Rutgers’ 2018 recruiting class. He has the potential to be a difference-maker. He is also a true freshman making his second start. He threw three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, against Texas State last week. The Buckeyes are a tad more imposing than Texas State. With Nick Bosa, Chase Young and Dre’Mont Jones leading the way, Ohio State should be able to harass Sitkowski into mistakes if he takes more than three-step drops.

Keep Haskins comfortable

It’s hard to imagine Dwayne Haskins Jr.’s starting debut going much better than it did last week, other than one interception under duress. If he has time, which the offensive line provided last week, he should be able to pick apart Rutgers’ defense. If Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins can combine for 250-plus yards, as they did a week ago, that’s a combination the Scarlet Knights won’t be able to handle.

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