The Rutgers football team is 0-9 against Ohio State in its 10 seasons in the Big Ten. It is a winless streak that the Scarlet Knights (6-2, 3-2) hope to break when they face the Buckeyes (8-0, 5-0) on Saturday.
In all nine games, Rutgers conceded at least 49 points to No. 1 Ohio State. In those games, the Buckeyes have outscored the Knights 477-98.
Ohio State is certainly a college football behemoth with an incredible 112-13 record and two National Championships under its belt since 2014, the year Rutgers joined the Big Ten Conference. The Buckeyes are 74-6 in Big Ten play since 2014 and have sat atop the conference and the nation for years.
All this in mind begs the question: Will the Knights ever beat Ohio State?
Well, it's not going to be easy.
Rutgers has finally found some stability after a decade of struggles and coaching changes. On the defensive side of the ball, the Knights are the 13th-best team in the nation in scoring defense and are 9th across the country in total defensive yards allowed.
While the offense is not as strong, Rutgers ranks in the top 65 in scoring offenses nationwide. That is still a tremendous step for this team.
The Knights are also making recruiting strides with multiple skilled 3-star and 4-star commitments that have helped their reputation grow.
Former Rutgers running back Isiah Pacheco is putting New Jersey on the map with his stellar play for the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL. Former defensive back for the Knights Christian Izien started off his rookie season hot this year with two picks in his first two games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When recruits see that Rutgers players are having success at football’s highest level, they will want to join the Knights as well.
As of now, Rutgers is behind teams like the Buckeyes, Michigan or Penn State in terms of bringing in talent. But head coach Greg Schiano hopes that his "chop" mantra keeps resonating with the Knights' program for years to come, as it has in the past. Schiano knows it takes time to build an elite football program and that Rutgers is almost there.
"You swing the axe, and it does nothing," Schiano said earlier this season. "It hits and bounces off the tree. What do you do, quit? No, you keep swinging it because, eventually, it'll do it. We're really learning how to do that. You have to. We play in the best league in college football. We have to learn how to do that to have a chance."
Schiano believes that the Knights' crop of recruits this season will help fill Rutgers' pipeline of talent. Once it develops more and the product on the field improves, interest in joining the program will grow.
"We don't get ready-made like the team we are playing this week," Schiano said ahead of the Knights' game against Ohio State. "They get some guys that come in that are five-star guys. We don't get a lot of those, but that's okay. We know who we are. That's the key to being us at Rutgers is we develop guys, they believe in what we're doing, they believe in the development, and we're getting close to having the pipeline full, and that's where things get fun when that pipeline gets full."
While defeating the Buckeyes this Saturday at SHI Stadium on Busch campus seems like a challenging task, Rutgers can look to keep making strides in closing that gap with Ohio State.
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