Rutgers and Maryland as rivals? It was just too easy to lump them in that category as the new kids on the Big Ten block ahead of their first season in the conference. Reality was, these two teams didn’t have a lot of history between them and a rivalry needed to spring up organically.
However, their end of the season matchup proved to be the most entertaining game of the weekend (if not the Big Ten season), and with Rutgers’ crazy comeback win it perhaps sparked something more than just wishful thinking on the rivalry tip.
Fast forward a few more months and these two were in a heated battle for four-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins out of Potomac, Md.
Landing his commitment was priority No. 1 for both schools on the 2016 recruiting trail, and as the process went along both became true contenders. Both saw gaining Haskins’ commitment as a way to spark an uptick in the future of their programs.
In the end, it was the two newcomers standing atop the heap and vying for an important commitment. Yes, Maryland and Rutgers were the two finalists for the No. 5-ranked pro-style quarterback in the country. Hard to believe, but it was true.
Late last week Haskins made his verbal commitment, choosing to stay home and play his football for the University of Maryland. In that decision, Haskins made it known that the Terps and the College Park campus felt like home.
He also made it very clear that he wasn’t done recruiting and making something special happen for the Terps.
“I feel like Maryland is on its way and I think I can make an instant impact,” Haskins said, via 247Sports. “Maryland is on the rise. Me and a few players that we look forward to recruiting could make it special.”
However, for Rutgers it was back to the drawing board and option No. 2 at quarterback. The Scarlet Knights didn’t have to wait long though, as high three-star quarterback Anthony Russo made his verbal pledge to Rutgers on Monday.
While Rutgers was happy to have a quarterback commit for the 2016 class, there’s little doubt losing out on Haskins was a blow to what head coach Kyle Flood was hoping was going to be the class that turned things around.
Having a four-star quarterback who was top 5 at his position would have been a catalyst on the recruiting trail for Rutgers, no doubt about it. Why? It’s already been a boon to the Terps’ recruiting efforts for the 2016 class.
In fact, it was mid-interview after announcing his commitment that defensive tackle Jeffery Pooler made his verbal pledge to the Terps. While Pooler isn’t a major prospect, it’s just a small glimpse of the power that Haskins’ commitment could have on the program he chose.
No doubt that one player won’t make these two programs hate each other more…but it definitely will heat things up in the stands, on the message boards and that’s usually how these things are started. Someone has to be the villain in order for things to get really going, and Haskins’ commitment has the potential to be the final spark that ignites this rivalry.
Of course, that means Haskins also has to develop in to the guy everyone thinks he will. Lord knows we’ve seen four-star quarterbacks and Elite 11 participants flame out after coming to college. Still, you can see the vast potential for Haskins to change the fortunes not only on the recruiting trail, but on the field as well.
As long as that development happens, you can bet the fans won’t let him forget which side he “dissed” and which side he chose.
It’s hard not to see the decision made by Haskins as the one that could take a potentially budding rivalry in to a full-fledged rivalry — with some trophy to be named later too (because it isn’t a rivalry in the B1G without a trophy).
Should Maryland contend in the Big Ten East in the future and Rutgers struggle, look for this commitment to have a lot to do with it for both sides.
Rutgers at Ohio State Preview: Can Ohio State Keep Rolling?
When: Sat. Sept. 30; 7:30 pm ET
Where: Piscataway, NJ; High Point Solutions Stadium (52,545)
All-Time Series: Ohio State leads 3-0
Last Meeting: Ohio State won 58-0 last year
Line: Ohio State (-28.5)
Ohio State appears to be on a roll after the Oklahoma fiasco, but the level of opponent is nowhere near where it needs to be to really get a gauge on how far the offense has come. Unfortunately, that doesn’t figure to be the case this week either.
Let’s call it what it is. Rutgers is out-manned and outmatched against a deeper and more athletic Ohio State team that’s out to unleash fire and brimstone to try and get back into the College Football Playoff discussion. The Scarlet Knights are just the next plate of butter to cut through.
Or are they? At times this season, Rutgers has actually looked like a real-live, American college football team. Washington came into Piscataway and had to break more than a sweat to escape the mystery of the night in week one. Since then though, the Rutgers team has looked like a team resigned to its fate to some degree.
On the other hand, the Buckeyes have looked dynamic with the Big Ten’s leading rusher, a senior quarterback that has all the leadership qualities you’d want, and an explosive playmaker at the hybrid position, Parris Campbell. On defense, there’s been some things to clean up at linebacker and on the back-end with pass defense, but the D-line is as talented as any in the country.
Last year Ohio State administered a public flogging to the Scarlet Knights in Columbus, but you can expect it to be a closer contest in 2017. But how close remains to be seen.
1 Burning Question: How far has Rutgers come from last year?
There’s not a lot to learn from a 58-0 beat down. In fact, most coaches will take the tape of a game like that and chew it up, spit it out and put in the rear-view mirror. All indications point to head coach Chris Ash making strides with this program, but how much remains to be seen against the top of the league.
Ohio State provides that true indicator, and while nobody expects it to be 58-0 again, we’ll want to all see how the athletic gap has been closed. It’s probably too much to ask for a tight affair here in High Point Solutions Stadium, but being more competitive throughout is a statement that must be made for the team to continue to climb the staircase set before it.
2 Key Stats:
520: That’s how many rushing yards freshman sensation running back J.K Dobbins has through the first four games for Ohio State.
It’s Dobbins, not Saquon Barkley that leads the league in rushing — despite all the hoopla. He’s just a freshman, but the 5-10, 208 lb. freshman has quick feet, explosiveness through the hole, and enough strength as a youngster to be a three-year wonder at the least in Columbus. OSU will look to continue the development of the passing game, but look for Dobbins to get plenty of touches again. It may not be as many as previous weeks with Mike Weber apparently back in the fold, but anyone watching this team knows which back is the more dangerous of the two.
163.5: It’s the amount of passing yards per game for Rutgers in 2017.
That’s not going to get it done, especially against an Ohio State team that is tough to run through. That D-line that is so deep and talented will wreak havoc on a team that can’t throw the ball. If there’s good news for Rutgers, it’s that Ohio State’s pass defense is ranked 80th in the country. And that stat got a boost from playing two straight run-heavy teams in back-to-back weeks. If QB Kyle Bolin can get time to throw, there should be some opportunities through the air.
3 Key Players:
Kyle Bolin, QB (Rutgers): It’s already been mentioned, but for Rutgers to have any shot at this thing, Bolin has to play the game of his life and make some plays down field. There’s just not going to be that much room to run against Ohio State, so scoring points is going to be an effort through the air. OSU will score. The Scarlet Knights have to find a way to keep up, and the best bet on that front is with Bolin’s arm.
Janarion Grant, WR (Rutgers): Will he suit up or not? If he does, how effective will the senior playmaking wide-receiver/kick returner be? Grant has yet to be cleared medically at the time of this preview because of headaches experienced after taking a shot to the head against Morgan State. He’s the one guy that measures up athletically with the OSU defense and can make the explosive plays needed to keep it close. Rutgers has already been offensively challenged this year and it gets worse without him on the field.
Parris Campbell, WR (Ohio State): The Buckeyes will want to continue the reps through the air, as long as the Scarlet Knights allow them to. That means the hybrid position with the biggest threat to take it the distance will see plenty of action. Campbell has had a bit of an issue snatching the ball out of the air at times this year, but when he does and turns up field, he can be a handful. He’s also leading the Big Ten in kick returns, so he could flip the field in favor of Ohio State at any time.
Ohio State 38, Rutgers 17
There’s just not enough talent for the Scarlet Knights to hang in there — not yet anyway. Head coach Chris Ash continues the molding of this program in just his second year, so it’s still too early to expect a shocker. It won’t be the blitzkrieg that happened last year in Columbus, but OSU just has too many weapons for this to be close for too long. The Buckeyes win by three touchdowns.
2017 talking10 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Awards Special
The Big Ten may have its awards, but what is the point of watching endless hours of Big Ten basketball without putting our two cents in, right?
Welcome to the 2017 taking10 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Awards special. Our hope is to educate you on the names that dominated our conversations and the hardwood across the Big Ten this season.
So, sit back and enjoy our special for your viewing pleasure.