Rutgers hunting for wins, Ohio State stays focused

It is not easy to beat Rutgers, but it is hard to beat Ohio State. Catch up on the biggest news around the Big Ten.

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Rutgers hunting for wins, Ohio State stays focused

Iowa defensive back Geno Stone goes for a tackle during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-0.

Iowa defensive back Geno Stone goes for a tackle during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-0.

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa defensive back Geno Stone goes for a tackle during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-0.

Shivansh Ahuja

Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa defensive back Geno Stone goes for a tackle during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-0.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

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With last week’s results cooling off and the preparation for this week’s games heating up, Big Ten coaches had a lot to say after a full week of football.

On the east coast, it’s no surprise Rutgers is still struggling, but the coaching staff remains positive. Meanwhile, the Ohio State coaching staff seeks to keep its players focused on current games, despite matchups with No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 7 Penn State, and No. 16 Michigan looming. 

2018 Big Ten Championship rematch this week

A rematch of last season’s Big Ten Championship game comes Friday night, as No. 4 Ohio State travels to Evanston to take on Northwestern. The Buckeyes took down Northwestern at Lucas Oil Stadium, 45-24, a year ago. 

Something else lingering in the heads of Northwestern fans, though, is what could have been. Wildcat head coach Pat Fitzgerald recruited Ohio State phenom Justin Fields early in his high school career, but Fitzgerald now finds himself on the receiving end of Fields’ stellar 2019. Fitzgerald joked at the media on Monday about its attentive, favorable coverage of Fields on the recruiting trail. 

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“He’s a rock-star person,” Fitzgerald said. “We were blown away with him out of high school. And then all of a sudden, you guys gave him too many stars. It would have been great if you kept him where he was when we recruited him.”

Northwestern’s offense could use a player like Fields this season. The Wildcats are No. 125 in the country this year in yards per game, only six spots from the bottom. It might be a rematch of the 2018 Big Ten Championship, but these are different teams competing this time around.

On the other side, Ohio State is having no trouble moving the ball this year. The Buckeyes rank No. 7 in the country in yards per game, averaging 535. The team is at a weird point this season, however. It had a bye last week and goes on another bye week following its matchup with Northwestern on Friday night. A daunting task sits on the other side of its second bye week: a matchup with No. 6 Wisconsin.

“[It’s] the same thing that we’ve been talking about all along, which is all you’re worried about is this game right here, and we all know what happens if you start to lose focus, and we cannot do that,” Buckeye head coach Ryan Day said. “So this week, we’ve talked about having a white-belt mentality, which is a mentality that you’re starting right from scratch and that you don’t take anything for granted.”

New tone for Rutgers, football program ‘not a morgue’

Rutgers fired head coach Chris Ash on Sept. 28 following a blowout loss to Michigan.

Though the program is reportedly hunting after big-time coaches like Greg Schiano to take over, interim head coach Nunzio Campanile asserted that the season is not over for the Scarlet Knights.

“One of the biggest things I said to them yesterday, came in, said, ‘I’m not going to turn this place into a morgue,’” he said. “I mean, we have an opportunity to go out and play football. We are not going to hang our heads every day. We are going to try to find a way better and try to wipe the slate clean and try to get to 1-0 every week.”

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