What Rutgers Needs to Do to Beat Ohio State

“The Birthplace” will be rocking for the first prime time game in Rutgers history Saturday night. The fans can really bring it and affect the game, as evidenced by the spirited effort by Rutgers against Michigan State fueled by the raucous crowd. Here’s what RU needs to do to send those fans home happy.

R-U!

Rutgers first has to establish the run game. The talented trio of Robert Martin, Josh Hicks, and Paul James is the bread and butter of their offense. Most of Rutgers’ big pass plays are play action looks set up by the defense cheating in on the run. It will be a tall task to pave rushing lanes against Ohio State’s powerful front line, led by potential top-5 pick Joey Bosa, but it simply must be done for Rutgers to have a chance. Every football team in the world knows that establishing the run is the first priority, but this thing will get ugly real quick if Rutgers is forced into becoming one dimensional.

The best defense is a good offense, especially against the stream rolling machine that is the Buckeyes’ offense. Ohio State has looked out of sync at times, as they did during the Indiana game, but make no mistake about the talent level on the offensive side of the ball for Ohio State. It’s perhaps the best in the country. Rutgers has to sustain offense drives to keep JT Barrett and Ezekiel Elliot off the field. Quarterback Chris Laviano has struggled mightily on first and second down, and the majority of the Rutgers downfield passing game consists of play action bombs to Carroo. The offense needs to carve up 10 to 15 yard chunks to keep chipping away while chewing the clock. One quick score a quarter won’t work here. Ohio State will massacre Rutgers if they are unable to sustain drives.

It’s the same old mantra, but forcing turnovers is more important than ever in a big home game like this. Once in rhythm, Ohio State’s offensive juggernaut knows no bounds. The key to competing with them is to interrupt that rhythm and force miscommunications and incompletions. The way to get them to punt is to get the offense discombobulated. A passionate home crowd should help to fire up the defense to play with heart.

When it comes down to it, they’ve just got to believe. College football can hang its hat on having some of the greatest upsets ever seen in the sports world. Crazier things have happened-look at the 2013 Iron Bowl, or last week’s Michigan-Michigan State game. There’s no better environment than Rutgers’ first home game against Ohio State, while ranked No. 1, for this to happen. Shock the world and go Rutgers!

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