Ohio State football looks to continue dominance over Rutgers

Ryan Day was 24 minutes into his press conference Tuesday before the Ohio State coach mentioned the name of the Buckeyes' opponent this week.

Day could be excused. First, he hadn’t been asked about Rutgers. And second, if all goes as expected, Saturday’s game against the Scarlet Knights will be a forgettable one. It’s hard to get too excited about a game with a point spread of almost 40 points.

Welcome to October, which shouldn’t present a major obstacle for the No. 3 Buckeyes (4-0) until they play at Penn State on Oct. 29.

The Buckeyes go on the road for the first time next week, but Michigan State is reeling with two straight ugly losses. After an off week, offense-challenged Iowa plays at Ohio Stadium.

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Until the visit to State College, the Ohio State's toughest opponent might be itself. This month figures to be a test of the competitive stamina Day has preached since the end of last season, not so much on the field on Saturdays as in maintaining their edge as the Buckeyes play seemingly overmatched opponents.

“Every time you go into a game, you have to get physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to play in that game,” Day said. “We’ve got to do that again for 3:30 on Saturday against Rutgers.

“That's the discipline of trying to become great and reach the goals that we're going to strive for. We've talked about this. We’ve prepared for this. It’s been implemented. Now it's just a matter of execution.”

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The Buckeyes have outscored the Scarlet Knights 428-88 since Rutgers joined the Big Ten in 2014. Their closest game was a 49-27 win in 2020.

The Scarlet Knights are making progress under former Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. Rutgers is 3-1, beating Boston College, Wagner and Temple before losing 27-10 to Iowa last week. The Scarlet Knights had to use third-stringer Evan Simon at quarterback against the Hawkeyes because of injuries to Noah Vedral and Gavin Wimsatt. Their status for Saturday is uncertain.

Safety Josh Proctor, here celebrating a tackle against Wisconsin, remembers Rutgers coach Greg Schiano's days at Ohio State. “Schiano recruits dawgs," Proctor said. "He wants to know when it’s time to get gritty and dirty, you’re there."
Safety Josh Proctor, here celebrating a tackle against Wisconsin, remembers Rutgers coach Greg Schiano's days at Ohio State. “Schiano recruits dawgs," Proctor said. "He wants to know when it’s time to get gritty and dirty, you’re there."

Schiano is in the third year of his second rebuild at Rutgers. He made the Scarlet Knights relevant for the first time in generations in his first tenure before heading to the NFL and eventually the Buckeyes. Now he’s attempting it in the Big Ten, which is deeper waters than the old Big East.

“He's an excellent motivator, creates great relationships with his players, motivates,” Day said. “He's very intelligent. He really can drive the whole program at a high level. He sees it and understands what needs to get done. I think he's an excellent leader and a very smart coach.”

Rutgers’ strength this season has been its run defense. It has allowed only 1.8 yards per carry. Then again, their opponents so far aren’t exactly juggernauts. Ohio State is a whole different beast.

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A few Ohio State players, including senior safety Josh Proctor, began their OSU careers under Schiano. They know the tenacity Schiano instills.

“They don't give up,” Proctor. “That goes with coach Schiano. I played with him my freshman year, and I know he brought that mentality to Rutgers.

“Schiano recruits dawgs. He wants to know when it’s time to get gritty and dirty, you’re there. You’re not running from it or shying away from it.”

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Rutgers at Ohio State

When:  3:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: 97.1 FM/1460 AM

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State football: As always, Buckeyes huge favorite over Rutgers