There's not a whole lot to be said about this season other than disappointing. The year started off with a slate of injuries, personnel issues have kept the Buckeyes from being at their best, and the coaching remains as underwhelming as ever. Feels like it has been every year since 2017, with the exception of 2020.
Looking to this game, Rutgers is a program clearly in its prime under Coach Brian Brecht, as they're in the top 10 yet again. I will say, however, that this year's out of conference slate has been a bit dicey in terms of quality.
Still, Rutgers comes in at 7-1, having lost to Army early in the season. On the flip side, Rutgers' best win is a 4-goal victory over Loyola which, in retrospect, no longer seems like the tremendous win it appeared to be at the time.
Rutgers has it rolling yet again offensively. The Scarlet Knights average 5.5 more goals per game than their opponents. A total of 4 Scarlet Knights have 20+ points through 8 games. Ohio State has 2. And Rutgers only has 1 player with over 10 assists. There are a TON of dudes on the roster.
Dante Kulas (#1) has taken a big step this year at attack, starting every game and tied for the team lead in goals (22). Ross Scott (#5), also Canadian, is the other player who has 22 goals, also at attack.
Brian Cameron (#20) ordinarily would be the third starter down low, but he appears to be injured. Shane Knobloch (#27) and Jack Aimone (#33) will be middies to watch tomorrow.
Defensively, the Scarlet Knights haven't been particularly stout against teams with a pulse, but have some good numbers based on competition. Generally, the unit holds opponents to 13 fewer shots than their own offense, doesn't allow opponents to get shots on goal, and will turn opponents over quite often.
The Scarlet Knights will likely start Brad Apgar (#55), Jack Stahanczyk (#54), and Bobby Russo (#88) at the low pole positions. Apgar is a 5th year from Salisbury, and will likely take on Jack Myers. I think this unit is tough, but untested.
In goal, Kyle Mullin will start for Rutgers, bringing with him a save percentage north of 55%, and an average of over 11 saves per game. That doesn't exactly bode well for a Buckeye squad that has struggled mightily to generate points. Something to watch as game day approaches.
At the faceoff dot, Rutgers is winning just under 56% of their draws, relying mostly on Jonathan DuGenio (#91). Ohio State is in trouble here, as their main weapon, Drew Blanchard, didn't play last week. If he is unable to go, yet another lackluster recruiting effort is going to bite Ohio State in the backside. How no freshman has earned a look with the weak options available is beyond me.
On special teams, Rutgers is good. They're at 50% on the year for Man Up conversions, but allow 35% on Man Down. The Man Down number is weak. The Man Up is elite. Ohio State needs a clean game if they're going to have a prayer. Not sure they have it in them.
This game is harder to call for me than I would like. The pessimistic side thinks the midfielders are going to get fleeced again, and the chances of running into a hot goalie are high.
On the flip side, Rutgers' best win is probably Princeton, who isn't exactly a juggernaut this year. Army beat Rutgers early, but this team still hasn't hit the gear from previous years.
I don't think Ohio State wins. Even with a home game, the Buckeyes are hemorrhaging goals and scoring hardly at all. They'll need a perfect game to win, an excellent ome to keep it close. I just don't see ot this year.
Final Prediction: Rutgers 12, Ohio State 9.