It’s homecoming weekend for Ohio State football. Rutgers is the opponent. Historically, that’s appropriate.

Sure, Rutgers happens to be in the same conference as the Buckeyes. But not only is Ohio State 8-0 all-time against the Scarlet Knights, but the closest game in the series was the 49-27 matchup in 2020’s COVID-shortened season.

Fortunately, the absence of competitiveness does not lead to an absence of compelling story lines.

OSU-Rutgers connections

The biggest connection between the Buckeyes and Scarlet Knights is Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. Schiano was the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator from 2016 to 2018, and he helped the team transition to Ryan Day after Urban Meyer left the squad in mid-season.

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Another connection comes via Ohio State backup QB Kyle McCord. McCord hails from New Jersey and his father, Derek, played quarterback at Rutgers. The elder McCord passed for 441 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Scarlet Knights in 9 games in 1990 and 1991. The younger McCord has passed for 550 yard and 3 scores in 8 games as OSU’s backup QB in 2021 and 2022.

Multi-TD receivers

Perhaps the hallmark of the CJ Stroud era should be his willingness to ride the hot hand at the wide receiver position.

In 2021, Ohio State had 11 games when pass-catching targets hauled in multiple TD catches (4 games for Chris Olave, 3 for Garrett Wilson, 2 for Jaxon Smith-Njigba, 1 for Jeremy Ruckert, 1 for Marvin Harrison Jr.).

In 2022, Ohio State has had 5 more such games (2 for Harrison; 1 each for Emeka Egbuka, Cade Stover and Julian Fleming).

For comparison’s sake, Justin Fields had 6 multi-TD receiver games in 2019 and 6 more in 2020. In 2018, when Dwayne Haskins set OSU’s single-season passing mark, he had 9 multi-TD games for his receivers.

Stroud climbs the OSU record book

Even though this is just Stroud’s second season leading the Buckeyes, he’s rising up the ranks of the OSU record book.

With 5,657 passing yards, Stroud is 9th all-time in that category. He’ll likely climb to 7th this week, passing Troy Smith (5,720) and Steve Bellisari (5,878). Stroud will likely climb to 2nd this season, but JT Barrett’s record 9,434 yards would be quite a jump.

Likewise, Barrett’s 104 TD passes is probably out of reach, but with 60 passing scores, Stroud is only 3 behind 2nd-place Justin Fields. With 1,222 passing yards this season, Stroud is well on pace to repeat his 2021 effort as the school’s 2nd-ever 4,000-yard passer.

Running strong?

The Scarlet Knights have done an excellent job in run defense so far this season. While OSU has allowed 111 rushing yards per game, Rutgers has given up just 56.5, best in the Big Ten and second best in the nation. In 4 games, Rutgers has allowed just 5 rushing plays of 10 or more yards.

Rutgers’ 28 tackles for loss is 3rd in the Big Ten, just 2 behind Ohio State. Ohio State’s 219.8 rushing yards per game will be a stout challenge, though. The last time Ohio State failed to rush for 100 yards was last season’s loss to Michigan.

And the prediction …

This game, Rutgers’ excellent run defense aside, is a massive mismatch. Ohio State has scored between 49 and 58 points in every game they’ve played against Rutgers. Rutgers has averaged 11 points in those games. Those games have been over the past 7 seasons too, so it’s not like Rutgers is being punished for having a bad team in 1922.

Rutgers QB Evan Simon passed for 300 yards against Iowa last week. With nothing to lose, Rutgers will be aggressive early, and might pop an early passing score, particularly with OSU’s secondary still struggling with some lingering injuries. That said, numbers suggest a multi-TD game for a Buckeye receiver.

Egbuka grabs a couple of scores and Stroud passes for 5 in the game, jumping him into 2nd on the OSU TD list. TreVeyon Henderson rushes for 140 yards and a touchdown of his own. Ohio State leads 31-7 at the half, and much like last week, gives up some garbage time points with reserves. The final in this one is:

Ohio State 52, Rutgers 17