Ohio State’s game at Rutgers Saturday in Piscataway, N.J., has all the uncertainty of a slam dunk contest between LeBron James and a fifth-grader on a 10-foot basket.
Staying with the NBA theme, my chances – and probably yours, too – of correctly spelling the name of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo without Googling it are about the same as Rutgers’ chances against the Buckeyes this afternoon.
To most people, he’s the Greek Freak. Rutgers is the New Jersey Weak.
There are games that are sure things. There are games that are locks. Neither of those labels even comes close to describing the certainty of an Ohio State victory unless the Buckeyes suddenly forget everything they know about football.
Every other week an Ohio State prediction column includes lots of things you might see in that day’s games.
This week it seems more appropriate to talk about things you won’t see.
You won’t see Ohio State’s starters after halftime. And if you do see them on the field in the final two quarters, it will be a token appearance.
You won’t see Rutgers (2-7, 0-6 Big Ten) score a touchdown. In its six Big Ten games this season, the Scarlet Knights have scored a total of 24 points.
They were shut out by Iowa, Michigan and Indiana and scored one touchdown against Maryland, Minnesota and Illinois. Ohio State, by contrast, has scored 24 or more points in a quarter five times this season.
You won’t see former Ohio State assistant coach Chris Ash, who was Rutgers’ head coach from 2016 until after the fourth game of this season, when he was fired after going 8-32 overall and 3-26 in Big Ten games.
You won’t see Rutgers’ starting quarterback, Artur Sitkowski, and its best running back, Raheem Blackshear, who was also its leading receiver.
Both of them decided to take advantage of the rule change enacted last year which allows players to play in four games and still count it as a redshirt season. They announced their plans to redshirt the same week Ash was fired but haven’t said if they will stay at Rutgers or transfer.
You won’t see a full stadium. The announced crowd for its most recent home game, against Liberty University, was 23,058 in a stadium that holds 52,454. Ohio State alumni in New York and New Jersey might pump up the crowd a bit, but there won’t be a sellout.
You won’t see Chase Young again this week, but that will change next week when Penn State comes to No. 2 Ohio State (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten). The NCAA agreed earlier this week that sitting out two games was enough of a penalty for OSU’s all-world defensive end to pay for borrowing money from a friend and then repaying it.
Finally, you won’t see anything resembling a competitive football game, which is nothing new when Ohio State plays Rutgers. Or when any halfway decent Big Ten teams plays Rutgers.
Ohio State has outscored Rutgers 271-17 in the five games they have faced each other since the Scarlet Knights entered the Big Ten in 2014. The Buckeyes have scored 56, 49, 58, 56 and 52 points in those games.
Rutgers is on an 18-game losing streak in Big Ten games and has been outscored 634-137 during that streak.
It’s going to be a long afternoon for Rutgers. But that is nothing new.
The prediction: Ohio State 63, Rutgers 0.