Ohio State hosted new Big Ten East Division rival Rutgers for the first time yesterday, coming off a bye week that seemed to take an eternity. Urban Meyer was concerned about the bye week putting a halt to his team’s momentum after consecutive lopsided wins over Cincinnati, Kent State and Maryland. He needn’t have worried.
Kyle Flood’s Scarlet Knights had been playing with a chip on their shoulder and only a five-interception performance by quarterback Gary Nova against Penn State kept them from entering the game undefeated. Averaging 426 yards per game (268 of that passing), Rutgers came in at 5-1 (1-1), with that lone blemish coming late against the Nittany Lions.
Would Ohio State pick up where it left off, momentum-wise? Could the Buckeye defense handle Gary Nova and the Rutgers offense? Would the offensive line be able to protect J.T. Barrett against the active front four of the Scarlet Knights? Could Ohio State avoid getting a kick blocked (a Rutgers specialty)?
Yes, yes, yes, and yes. The Buckeyes pummeled Rutgers early and coasted through much of the second half, scoring 50 points for the fourth straight game for the first time in school history. Before some garbage time yards, Rutgers barely managed 200 yards of total offense. The OSU line kept Barrett clean and upright all game. Cameron Johnston punted once and was just fine, and Meyer never let Sean Nuerenberger try a field goal, although he made all eight of his extra points.
Here are your talking points:
Water Cooler prep (Everything you need to know…in one paragraph)
Ohio State rolled up 585 total yards and 31 first downs and scored just about every time it had the ball. J.T. Barrett threw for three scores and ran for two more. Nick Vannett caught two touchdown passes. The defense scored again on an Eli Apple fumble recovery. Barrett accounted for 369 total yards in the 56-17 win over Rutgers that wasn’t as close as the final score.
Talk before the game
Former Buckeyes were excited for the matchup.
Go Bucks ! Let's get this W
— Bradley Roby (@BradRoby_1) October 18, 2014
What about the health of the team?
Backup RB Bri'onte Dunn not dressed for today's game. Sustained leg injury in Thursday practice, according to @toddporter
— Patrick Maks (@maksimuspatrick) October 18, 2014
Seems like the weather could be a factor. How about a quick check in with the 11W weatherman?
Gray day in Columbus pic.twitter.com/1lruBbRFHx
— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) October 18, 2014
Cool. Anything else we should know, Birm?
A light sprinke is starting here at #OhioState
— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) October 18, 2014
Talk in the aftermath
“We didn’t need those late injuries, especially the one to Jacoby Boren.”
“You’d never know Curtis Samuel had a problem with his foot a few days ago.”
Let’s check in with those former Buckeyes again.
Good to see Buckeyes taking care of business....
— Boom herron (@BOOMHERRON1) October 18, 2014
And, wait…what’s this? Something positive from a national media member?
By the way, Ohio State might be one of the best four teams in the country.
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) October 18, 2014
Give that man a buckeye leaf (Player of the game)
Barrett was “only” 19/31 (61.3%) for 261 and three touchdowns passing, with two strikes to Vannett and one to Evan Spencer. He also had a career-high 107 rushing yards, including a 33-yard touchdown run and a 5-yarder on fourth-and-goal. Barrett is getting even better at going through his progressions but has also added the necessary quality of running with authority when his receivers aren’t available or when protection breaks down. His 33-yard run was on a screen pass that Rutgers had well covered.
Did you see that?! (Play of the game)
Spencer’s one-handed touchdown grab is an obvious choice here, but my pick is a play that happened with the game still in question.
The Buckeyes had just punted for the first (and only, as it turns out) time in the game, pinning Rutgers back at its own 10—Johnston had boomed one 53 yards without a return. On the first play, with Ohio State leading 21-7, Nova dropped back and hit Janarion Grant in the left flat. Darron Lee ran him down right away and wrapped him up. Rashad Frazier arrived and jarred the ball free on the tackle. Apple arrived shortly thereafter, scooped up the fumble and scored.
Slobber Knocker of the Game
With the first half winding down, Rutgers faced a third-and-10 from its own 11-yard line. Nova dropped back and blooped a pass over Doran Grant’s head to Leonte Carroo for 39 yars and a first down at midfield. Unhappy with the play, Grant came up and leveled running back Justin Goodwin on the sideline on the very next play.
Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment of the game
Tressel was building a model of the HMS Bounty inside a glass bottle on a TV tray while watching the game in his living room. Few people have the patience and delicate touch it takes to build a ship in a bottle, but Tressel is, of course, an expert at it. His recreation of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria—all inside an empty vodka bottle—recently sold for $85,000 at a Sotheby’s auction.
Ohio State, leading 42-7, drove inside the Rutgers 10 and Barrett threw three straight incompletions, trying to reward Spencer for his outstanding blocking on the edge. All fell incomplete. Tressel’s eyes lit up. “Field goal time,” he said. Meyer opted to go for it. Despite the fact that Barrett scrambled for a five-yard touchdown, Tressel threw his ship-in-a-bottle across the room, where it shattered the bay window. He hid from Ellen in the garage the rest of the afternoon.
When you sank into your chair (The moment Buckeye football disgraced your family)
Nothing fancy this time out, and maybe it isn’t strictly football related, but I suffered no greater disgrace yesterday than when ABC showed footage of “superfan” Big Nut riding in the Ohio State homecoming parade. No, Ohio State. That’s a bad Ohio State! Don’t do that!
What you texted your friend at the end of each quarter
First: “Nice start for the offense. D looked shaky that last drive.”
Second: “Bosa. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”
Third: “D is getting sloppy again here at garbage time but it’s hard to complain about anything at this point.”
Fourth: “500 more yards and 50 more points. I can get used to this.”
It was over when
Trailing 35-7 late in the first half, Nova led the Scarlet Knights down the field on a 12-play drive, aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Adolphus Washington. On third-and-four from the OSU 6-yard line, Nova floated a fade pass, looking to cut into the lead just before the break. Grant was waiting and intercepted the pass to snuff out the threat and steal Rutgers’ will to live. Ohio State opened the second half with a touchdown drive, twisting the knife.
The Buckeyes are all done with bye weeks. They’ll be back in action next Saturday in Happy Valley, where they’ll take on the Penn State Nittany Lions (4-2, 1-2) in a night banger. The Nitts were off this week after losing 18-13 at Michigan last Saturday night. This is a crucial stretch for the Buckeyes, who play three of the next four games away from the Horseshoe.