Ohio State-Rutgers | Rob Oller’s Second Thoughts

Rob Oller
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day leads warm-ups prior to the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, N.J. on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

• The majority opinion among Ohio State fans is that Rutgers is embarrassing and damaging to the Big Ten’s reputation. While that’s true in football, consider this year how the Scarlet Knights actually benefit the Buckeyes by providing a breather in a season back-loaded with games against Penn State and Michigan. For those wanting Rutgers to consistently put up a fight against Ohio State — not going to happen. But so what? Look at Alabama, which plays Western Carolina next week. Or Clemson, which overwhelmed Wofford on Nov. 2. Sure, it would help if Rutgers were slightly more competitive, but do fans really want a 2017 Iowa or 2018 Purdue on their hands? I don’t think so.

• It’s always challenging to gauge the mood of a coach in the immediate aftermath of a game, especially one that had more than its fair share of sloppy moments. But I’m confident in saying that Ryan Day is not a huge fan of games that essentially end at halftime. “Some of these games, when your starters only play one half of football, it’s hard to get a real assessment of what goes on.” Translated: Day welcomes blowouts because they give second- and third-teamers experience, which adds depth entering next season, but as a former NFL assistant he wants guys playing entire games. And it just doesn’t feel right to him to sit starters. He also finds 30 minutes of football unfair to players such as quarterback Justin Fields and tailback J.K. Dobbins, because they are judged on half a game. Rutgers was the fourth straight game that Dobbins did not have a carry after halftime.

• College Football Playoff picture update: After LSU at No. 1, Ohio State at No. 2 and Clemson at No. 3, the final spot is a dart-throwing contest. I like No. 6 Oregon to make the four-team field, assuming the Ducks defeated Arizona late Saturday; I think Oregon wins out and edges past No. 7 Utah in the Pac-12 title game. But LSU would need to defeat No. 4 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game for the Ducks to earn an invitation. The big losers? No. 8 Minnesota’s undefeated season ended at Iowa, and No. 5 Alabama took a hit when quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a season-ending hip injury. No. 13 Baylor blew a 25-point lead to No. 10 Oklahoma and ruined its undefeated season. So much can and will happen over the next three weeks, but I don’t see the SEC getting two teams in this year. Fingers crossed.