Five Things to Know About Rutgers As Bowl-Eligible Scarlet Knights Prepare to Host Buckeyes

By Andy Anders on October 30, 2023 at 8:35 am
Greg Schiano
Marc Lebryk – USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State heads back on the road this weekend for the second week in a row and the fifth time this season.

Scarlet Knights
6 - 2
Piscataway, New Jersey
cbsOSU -18.5

Awaiting the Buckeyes this week is Rutgers, who has its best team in quite some time. While the Scarlet Knights are still nearly a three-touchdown underdog, they’ll provide a better-than-usual test for the Buckeyes as Ohio State begins its final month of the regular season.

Here’s Five Things to Know about Ohio State’s ninth opponent of 2023:


For the first time since 2014, Rutgers has won six games in a season, currently standing at 6-2 with a 3-2 mark in conference play.

While the Scarlet Knights were awarded a berth in the Gator Bowl in 2021, in which they lost 38-10 to Wake Forest, they went 5-7 during that regular season. This is the first time in former Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano’s second stint as Rutgers’ head coach that the Scarlet Knights will finish the regular season with at least a .500 record.

Schiano first served as head coach of Rutgers from 2001-2011, finishing with six winning seasons in his last seven years of that stint. The Scarlet Knights had one of their best squads in program history under Schiano in 2006, then playing in the Big East, going 11-2 with a 37-10 win over Kansas State in the Texas Bowl.

The New Jersey native is 18-24 since taking the program back over prior to the 2020 season, making for an 86-91 career record in Piscataway.

Rutgers has won back-to-back games entering its tilt with Ohio State, first beating Michigan State by a 27-24 final before going on the road to defeat Indiana 31-14. The Scarlet Knights got an extra week to prepare for Ohio State as they are coming off of a bye.

Top-10 defense

Much of Rutgers’ success this season can be attributed to its defense.

The Scarlet Knights are No. 9 nationally in total defense, allowing just 276.8 yards per game, and No. 13 in scoring defense, allowing only 15.8 points per game. Their rushing defense only ranks 37th in the country, but their pass defense ranks second overall with only 156.3 yards allowed per game.

Rutgers is closer to the middle of the pack situationally, ranking 45th in opposing third-down conversion rate and 45th in red zone touchdown percentage. 

Four Rutgers defenders have collected between 48 and 53 tackles, with three defensive backs that possess at least five pass breakups. Robert Longerbeam leads the team in that category with eight PBUs on the season.

Ohio State will be one of the best offenses the Scarlet Knights have played this season, but Rutgers has yet to give up more than 31 points in a game this season, with that number coming against Michigan in Week 4. No other team has managed more than 24 points against the Scarlet Knights in 2023.

Monangai leads the offense

Much like Ohio State to this point in the season, Rutgers has been a defensive-driven team. The Scarlet Knights rank tied for 66th in scoring offense (28.1 points per game) and a measly 107th in total offense (327.1 yards per game).

The most effective part of Rutgers’ offense has been its ground game, where it ranks 40th in rushing yards per game and 53rd in yards per carry. That’s thanks largely to running back Kyle Monangai, who tops the Big Ten with 744 rushing yards. He’s done so at a clip of 5.2 yards per carry with seven touchdowns.

Gavin Wimsatt is the team’s guide under center, but his stats don’t inspire much confidence in Rutgers’ ability to pass the ball. Completing just 50.3 percent of his throws, Wimsatt has averaged only 6.3 yards per pass attempt (Kyle McCord is at 9.4 by comparison) with seven touchdowns and four interceptions in eight games.

Family ties

The secondaries of Ohio State and Rutgers feature a man from the same household.

While Buckeye cornerback Davison Igbinosun has helped anchor the team’s defensive backfield opposite Denzel Burke, his brother Desmond Igbinosun has done the same as the Scarlet Knights’ nickel.

Their numbers are similar this season. Davison Igbinosun has 35 tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss and three pass breakups while Desmond holds 34 takedowns with 5.5 tackles for loss and one sack playing closer to the line of scrimmage.

Lopsided series

This is the 10th consecutive season Ohio State and Rutgers will meet on the gridiron, the only 10 meetings all-time between the two schools. The Buckeyes are 9-0 in the first nine meetings.

That record doesn’t fully capture the Buckeyes’ dominance over the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers has never come closer than 22 points to upsetting its Big Ten overlord from Columbus, with the tightest margin of victory coming in a 49-27 game during the COVID-19-plagued 2020 season.

Outside of that matchup, Ohio State has beaten Rutgers by at least 35 points in all of the two sides’ other eight meetings. The Buckeyes’ average margin of victory over the Scarlet Knights is 42.1 points.

The men in scarlet and gray will hope to continue such trends when they meet the Scarlet Knights at noon Saturday in Piscataway, N.J. CBS will air the contest.

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