Ohio State football: 5 things to know about Rutgers past and present

PISCATAWAY, NJ - SEPTEMBER 30: The Rutgers Scarlet Knights mascot stands on the field during a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes on September 30, 2017 at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. Ohio State won 56-0. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

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PISCATAWAY, NJ - SEPTEMBER 30: The Rutgers Scarlet Knights mascot stands on the field during a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes on September 30, 2017 at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. Ohio State won 56-0. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

Ohio State is set to go on the road this week to play at Rutgers, where the Scarlet Knights are do not have a full-time head coach or a Power 5 win this season.

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Here are five things to know about the game, the series and the school’s status as “the birthplace of college football”:

1. Rutgers is probably the worst major-conference team in the country.

The Scarlet Knights are 2-7 with wins over Massachusetts and Liberty. Their losses are all by at least 14 points with six by at least 28.

The Maryland team that Ohio State just beat 73-14 stomped Rutgers 48-7 on Oct. 5.

Rutgers last beat a team from the Power 5 on Nov. 4, 2017, a 31-24 home triumph over Maryland.

This season SP+ at ESPN has them 107th in the country, lower than any other team in the Power 5 conferences (but two spots ahead of fellow Ohio State opponent Miami University). Rutgers has the No. 109 offense and 86 defense nationally in SP+ while special teams are a respectable 67th.

In traditional stats, Rutgers is 126th (out of 130) in total offense and 96th in total defense.

RU is eighth in net punting and 62nd in kickoff returns.

2. The Scarlet Knights have an interim coach.

Nunzio Campanile replaced Chris Ash as head coach after the Scarlet Knights lost 52-0 at Michigan on Sept. 28. They were 1-3 and are 1-4 since.

Ash, who was co-defensive coordinator for Ohio State when the Buckeyes won the 2014 national championship, was 8-32 in three-plus seasons in Piscataway.

Rutgers has two players from Ohio on the roster — running back Kay’Ron Adams (Warren Harding) and defensive lineman Brendan Bordner (Hilliard Bradley).

3. Another former Ohio State coach might be back in power there soon.

Greg Schiano led some the best seasons in Scarlet Knights history when he was the head coach from 2001-11. The New Jersey native took Rutgers to a bowl game in five of his last six seasons before leaving to become coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL, where he lasted two seasons and went 11-21.

After rehabilitating his coaching image (at least until last season) as defensive coordinator at Ohio State from 2015-18, he parted ways with the program in January. He was reportedly set to join the New England Patriots staff, but that did not come to pass.

NJ.com reported Monday morning Rutgers is ready to meet Schiano's demands to return and he will be the next coach imminently unless he changes his mind and turns the school down.

4. This is the most lopsided series in Ohio State history by multiple measures.

Rutgers is 0-5 against Ohio State, but that only begins to tell the story.

The Buckeyes have outscored the Scarlet Knights by an average of 54.2-5.4. The 48.8-points-per game differential is the most for Ohio State in any series played more than once.

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Rutgers can boast of having allowed fewer points per game to Ohio State than Maryland (58.3).

Rutgers’ 27 points in the series are less than Ohio State has allowed in many series that have been played fewer than five times, including Marshall and Colgate, but the Scarlet Knights have scored one more points all time against Ohio State than Princeton (see below).

5. What has been referred to as “the first college football game” was played at Rutgers.

That is a dubious designation, though, as descriptions of the action and the rules indicate the game Rutgers and Princeton played on Nov. 6,1869, was closer to what we know as soccer today.

The Scarlet Knights beat the Tigers 6-4 in a contest in which carrying the ball was illegal but swatting it forward with the hands (or feet or head or other body part) was allowed, per the London Football Association rules that were in effect.

This preceded a period of about 20 years in which some of the leading schools in the East spent their autumns playing each other in games that gradually evolved into modern American football, a game distinct from both soccer and rugby in many ways.

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Aside from playing each other annually, the Eastern schools also had annual meetings in which rules changes were discussed and implemented.

While there were changes every year, some of the most notable were: adoption of a non-round ball (1875), holding and carrying the ball permitted (1876), 11 players on a side (1880), downs and yards to gain established (1882) and the legalization of the forward pass (1906).

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