PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — With undefeated Ohio coming to New Jersey, the last thing that Rutgers needed this week was a little distraction.
Unfortunately, that’s what the Scarlet Knights (1-1) got with the news that the university was looking into the possibility of leaving the Big East Conference and heading to either the Atlantic Coast Conference or the Big Ten.
Nothing has been finalized, but the players are aware of the possible realignment and they been forced to react.
Rutgers quarterback Chas Dodd believes Rutgers’ leadership will do what is best for the program.
“I feel fine with whatever does happen,” Dodd said. “But, again, we’re not worrying about that. We’re focusing on our next game. We talk about one-game seasons, and how we have to focus on each game. We’re trying to shy away from all the distractions and that’s one — if we let it become a distraction — then it could. So we’re just trying not to worry about it.”
Ohio (3-0) is off to its best start since 1976. The Bobcats, who defeated Marshall 44-7 last weekend, are ranked in the top 25 in nine different national statistical categories.
Frank Solich’s team from the Mid-American Conference is averaging 39.3 points (22nd nationally) while allowing 11.3 (13th nationally). The Bobcats also rank among the nation’s best in rushing offense (248.3 yards per game), total offense (467.3 yards) and total defense (274.3 yards).
“I think I speak for the whole team — all we’re focused on is Ohio and this game week,” Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene said. “We got athletic directors, coaches to handle the league and restructuring. That’s the least of my worries right there. I’m just ready to get ready to play 2:00 Saturday.”
Rutgers is coming off a bye week after suffering a 24-22 setback at North Carolina.
“I think we know the challenge we are in with Rutgers,” Solich said. “Just watching them on film, they are a very, very physical football team and they are by far the best defensive team we have faced this year. Offensively, they will pound the ball and they have guys up front that can get things done plus they have good skill position players. They have a good combination of things and we’re going to have to play exceptionally well to make this thing work.”
Ohio sophomore quarterback Tyler Tettleton passed for 285 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score against Marshall. The Bobcats defense forced six turnovers in the game.
Rutgers defensive tackle Scott Vallone said Ohio does a number of things on offense.
“They’ll run the traditional gun-run stuff and they’ll run some traditional runs out of some different backfield sets,” he said. “They get the ball out fast in the passing game. What I noticed is they find their hole and they try to get it downfield in a hurry. They got good vision and I think they’re going to present a little bit of an issue for us.”
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano is concerned with how fast the Bobcats play.
“They ran 50 plays in the first half of the Marshall game,” Schiano said. “We played 57 total plays against North Carolina. That in itself is a pretty strong statement. They have different tempos, but when they go turbo — or whatever they call it — it’s fast.”
Dodd said Ohio’s offense also does a lot of things, so Rutgers needs to control the ball. Expect freshman running back Savon Huggins to play more.
“We’re going to have a more rounded gameplan, maybe a few more things here and there, but it’s all things we’ve been working on since camp that I’m used to,” Dodd said. “We do what we’re good at, and I feel comfortable with what we’ve talked about so far.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.