Who will win? Experts make predictions for Ohio State vs. Rutgers

Brian White
The Columbus Dispatch

These aren't the same old Rutgers Scarlet Knights the Ohio State football team is facing in Week 5 of the season. 

At least they don’t look like it so far in 2021. 

Ohio State travels to the East Coast on Saturday for a showdown with Greg Schiano, the former Ohio State defensive coordinator, and his improving Rutgers (3-1) program at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. 

The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. 

Rutgers nearly pulled off an upset at Ann Arbor on Saturday when Michigan needed several key late defensive stops to win 20-13. Rutgers' defense is ranked No. 11 in the country.

Ohio State enters the game perhaps with some new life on defense after holding a struggling Akron program to seven points in a 59-7 win in Week 3. The 59 points were the most score by Ohio State this season. 

And that was with a backup quarterback. 

So who wins?

Here’s how the Columbus Dispatch and the USA TODAY Network-New Jersey college football reporters picked the game:

Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Bill Rabinowitz photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.

Bill Rabinowitz

Ohio State beat writer

The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State 28, Rutgers 10

There's enough uncertainty about the Buckeyes' quarterback situation and respect for Rutgers' pluckiness to resist predicting the annual OSU blowout of the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers' offense isn't imposing, but Ohio State must prove its defensive improvement against Akron was not just about the Zips' ineptitude. Greg Schiano has Rutgers on the right track, but the Buckeyes are still the much-faster train.

Columbus Dispatch Ohio State football beat reporter Joey Kaufman photographed April 29, 2021 in the Columbus Dispatch newsroom.

Joey Kaufman

Ohio State beat writer

The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State 38, Rutgers 14

The Buckeyes are no longer facing a Big Ten bottom dweller. Rutgers has moved into the middle class of the conference and is halfway toward bowl eligibility after winning all of its non-conference games. A well-coached team under Greg Schiano, the Scarlet Knights should keep the score respectable, but it’s a couple of recruiting cycles away from having the talent on offense to hang with Ohio State deep into the second half. No matter who’s throwing passes, the Buckeyes should keep winning. 

Columbus Dispatch sports columnist Rob Oller photographed Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.

Rob Oller

Sports columnist

The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State 35, Rutgers 13

Once upon a time there was a team named Rutgers that could not walk and chew gum at the same time. Now, the Scarlet Knights can walk, run and tackle, which gives Ohio State something new to chew on, especially given the perceived (or possibly real?) turmoil within the Buckeyes program. But internal leadership issues or not, OSU has too much offensive firepower to stall out, even against the 11th-ranked defense in the nation. And the Buckeyes' defense finally has some mojo after annihilating Akron.   

Chris Iseman

Chris Iseman

Rutgers beat writer

USA TODAY Network-New Jersey

Ohio State 31, Rutgers 21

Rutgers will manage to keep it close, even closer than last season’s matchup, but at this point it’s hard to see its offense having enough firepower to keep up with Ohio State. And while the Scarlet Knights’ offensive line has made some progress, containing Ohio State’s defensive front is going to be challenging. The Buckeyes’ balanced offense, with TreVeyon Henderson establishing the running game and Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson putting a lot of pressure on Rutgers’ cornerbacks, is going to be the toughest test the Scarlet Knights’ defense has seen yet. Rutgers might be getting closer to taking down a top Big Ten team, but it’s not there just yet.

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