COLUMBUS – Ten things you might not know about Rutgers, the opponent for Ohio State Saturday at Ohio Stadium:
1. It is the state university of New Jersey, not a private school. It began life as a private college in 1766, a decade before the Declaration of Independence, and didn’t become a public university until the middle of the 20th century.
Facing financial peril in 1793, its board of trustees considered merging with the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) but voted the proposal down by one vote.
2. Rutgers football coach Chris Ash is one of only two Division I FBS head coaches with just three letters in his last name. Ball State’s Mike Neu is the other one.
3. Rutgers has had nine offensive coordinators in the last nine seasons. The only job titles with more turnover are boyfriend of Taylor Swift and longest surviving relative of Kim Jong Un.
4. Rutgers has played every other Big Ten school except Northwestern since joining the conference in the 2014 football season. It plays Northwestern on Oct. 20.
5. Rutgers has won a total of seven Big Ten games in its first four seasons in the conference – two over Indiana, two over Maryland and one against Michigan, Illinois and Purdue.
6. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie has an honorary degree from Rutgers. Maybe that explains my long wait to cross a bridge to get to the stadium when Ohio State played there last year.
7. Rutgers is one of only seven schools in a Power Five conference named for a person – Purdue and Rutgers in the Big Ten; Duke and Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference; Baylor in the Big 12; Stanford in the Pac-12; and Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference.
8. Henry Rutgers got a better deal than John Purdue when it came to naming rights. Rutgers got his name on a college for a donation of $5,000 in 1825, which is the equivalent of $127,000 today. Purdue’s contribution in 1869 to the school named for him was $150,000, the equivalent of $2.8 million in 2018.
9. Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski has the name in the Big Ten that sounds most like it could belong to a cellist in a symphony orchestra.
10. Teams like to schedule Rutgers as a homecoming opponent. OK, you knew that. But did you know how much they like to do it?
Last year the Scarlet Knights were the homecoming opponent for three teams (Nebraska, Michigan and Penn State), more than any other Big Ten team.
One thing everyone knows about Ohio State-Rutgers football series is that the games have been totally one sided since the Scarlet Knights entered the Big Ten.
Ohio State has won those games 56-17, 49-7, 58-0 and 56-0. Rutgers has scored only one touchdown in the first half in those games, which means OSU’s first-team defense has probably come close to pitching a career shutout against them.
Some people say this year might be a little closer. But we’ve heard that one before.
The Scarlet Knights have eight starters back on a defense that went from giving up 37 points a game in 2016 to allowing 28 points a game last year in former OSU assistant Ash’s second year as head coach
That is no surprise since Ash’s background is in defense. It could be a reason to expect improvement from Rutgers.
But Rutgers also has a true freshman at quarterback in Sitkowski, its best running back is 5-9 and 192 pounds and its offensive line didn’t always give its young QB as much time as he needed in his first start in a 35-7 win over Texas State last week.
Ohio State is simply too strong on both sides of the ball for this game to be close.
The prediction: Ohio State 45, Rutgers 10.