1. Big Ten breakthrough
The Scarlet Knights have already won more Big Ten games than they did in the last two seasons combined, when they were 0-18 in conference play.
Rutgers kicked off 2020 — the comeback tour for head coach Greg Schiano — with a 38-27 win over Michigan State but lost 37-21 to Indiana last week.
The Scarlet Knights were outgained by the Spartans 369-276 but forced seven turnovers and turned those into 21 points.
Last week, Indiana outgained Rutgers 347-247, won the turnover battle 3-0 and turned those three takeaways into 17 points.
“That’s very hard to overcome, but it’s where we find ourselves,” Schiano said after the game. “We’re running out of firsts. We had our first win together. Today we had our first loss together.”
2. Ohio State is 6-0 against Rutgers
Last season’s 56-21 victory by the Buckeyes in Piscataway was the most competitive in the series, which began when the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten in 2014.
Prior to 2019, the Buckeyes had outscored the Scarlet Knights by an average of 54.2-5.4.
Ohio State has scored at least 49 points in every meeting, and the Buckeyes allowed less than a touchdown three times, including shutouts in 2016 and ’17 when Schiano was Ohio State defensive coordinator.
At 0-6 against Ohio State, Rutgers has matched MAC rivals Ohio and Miami for fourth-worst record against the Buckeyes. Muskingum is 0-7 in a series that was last played in 1928 while Washington State is 0-8 and Oregon is 0-9.
3. Schiano has an uphill climb in his second stint
A Bucknell graduate from Wyckoff, N.J., Schiano first took over program in 2001 when the Scarlet Knights were eight years removed from their last winning season.
He needed four years before recording his first winning campaign and finished his first tenure with a 68-67 record.
That Rutgers climb came in the old Big East conference while this one will require overtaking some of college football’s top programs in the Big Ten.
The Scarlet Knights went 8-5 overall in their first Big Ten season but are 14-48 since.
“I do love the way they compete,” Schiano said after the Indiana game. "I love the way they keep straining — as we say, keep chopping. Certainly not one ounce of giving in. It’s about winning and losing, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
“We’ll build this thing the right way. I believe in our guys. They stuck to the plan throughout, but certainly it’s disappointing.”
Rutgers entered the season projected to be 110th out of 127 NCAA FBS teams according to ESPN’s SP+, but the Scarlet Knights are 87th this week in the measure of efficiency and explosiveness.
4. Rutgers has three Ohioans on the roster.
Safety Brendon White (Olentangy Liberty), running back Kay’Ron Adams (Warren Harding) and offensive lineman Brendan Bordner (Hilliard Bradley) are from the Buckeye State.
White is a transfer from Ohio State, where he spent three seasons and was the MVP of the 2019 Rose Bowl but slipped down the depth chart last season and opted to reunite with Schiano, who was defensive coordinator at Ohio State from 2016-18.
5. White is one of 10 transfers Schiano has brought in.
Schiano went to work trying to improve one of the worst Power 5 rosters in the country by calling in veteran reinforcements from around the country.
White started the season-opening win over Michigan State and logged an interception and a fumble recovery against the Spartans.
Defensive tackle Malik Barrow is also a former Buckeye, and he is joined on the interior line by Michigan transfer Michael Dwumfour, Minnesota transfer Mayan Ahanotu and Boston College transfer Ireland Burke.
Starting quarterback Noah Vedral arrived in New Jersey from Nebraska while receiver Aron Cruickshank (Wisconsin), tight end Jovani Haskins (West Virginia), defensive end Aaron Lewis (Michigan) and athlete Peyton Powell (Baylor) are also transfers.
Rutgers at Ohio State, 7:30 p.m., BTN, 1410