In the third quarter against Tulsa, TreVeyon Henderson was a moment away from a potential long-term injury.
The Buckeye running back was already working on a monstrous performance in his very first start, but Henderson said his knee “almost snapped” due to a Tulsa nose tackle rolling up on his leg in a pile. Henderson laughed after the game when he said getting his knee out quickly to avoid catastrophe was his best play of the night, but after setting the Buckeyes’ single-game freshman rushing record – the third-most yards ever tallied by a rusher in Ohio State history – that move has quite a bit of competition.
Henderson left the game limping after taking the aforementioned blow to his leg, but when he returned on the next Buckeye drive, the Virginia native’s first play was a 54-yard sprint down the sideline. It was one of four rushes of at least 30 yards for Henderson, and his 277 yards broke Archie Griffin’s freshman record set in 1972. The only two Ohio State players to rush for more yardage than Henderson in a single game are Eddie George and Trey Sermon.
“Each running back is different, but he’s somebody that can hit home runs, and that’s special. He has that special talent,” head coach Ryan Day said after the game. “When you give it to him and he gets to the second level, makes a guy miss, it could be a home run. And that’s a whole different dynamic.”
Henderson scored three of Ohio State’s four offensive touchdowns in the 41-20 win, and despite the final score, those stats were not empty ones in a one-sided blowout. The Buckeyes struggled to truly separate from the Golden Hurricane until late, as the offense and defense traded on and off with uneven stretches to keep the door open for Tulsa.
Against Oregon it was the run game that couldn’t quite get going, but this time it was the Ohio State passing game that was lacking. C.J. Stroud finished 15-for-25 with 185 yards, one touchdown and an interception, but Henderson was there to bail out the Buckeyes time and time again, tearing up turf for touchdown runs of 48 and 52 yards in the third quarter alone.
“I wasn’t expecting something like this, but like I told y’all before the season, I had a lot of big goals for myself, and I reached one of my goals today,” Henderson said. “But I got plenty more, so I gotta keep working.”
The overall offensive effort was so displeasing at times to the 76,540 in attendance at Ohio Stadium – the fewest since 1971 – that the home crowd rained down a chorus of boos in the third quarter when Day elected to hand the ball off to Master Teague out of the shotgun on a 3rd-and-17 at the Ohio State 27 with six minutes to play in the period. The Buckeyes had just 20 points at that stage, and Tulsa cut it to a one-touchdown deficit five minutes later on a scoring strike from Davis Brin.
Just three plays after that, Henderson came up huge when called upon, taking a handoff 52 yards to the end zone to give Ohio State some much-needed breathing room with a 27-13 lead. It was both his third score of the day and his longest, and despite an answer from the Tulsa offense with a touchdown of its own on the following possession, Henderson had essentially done enough to allow Ohio State to win the game with one more defensive stop thereafter.
“TreVeyon obviously had an amazing day. Couldn’t be more proud of him,” left tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere said. “He’s probably one of the best players we have here, and he’s worked so hard from the beginning when he got here to now. Everything’s kind of going for him, and he’s showing out.”
To drive a stake through the heart of the Golden Hurricane, Henderson took his final carry 31 yards down the right sideline to put Ohio State deep into Tulsa territory with six minutes and change to play in the fourth quarter. The big run set the Buckeyes up for their final offensive score of the day, which came on a 12-yard connection from Stroud to Garrett Wilson.
I'm excited right now, but at the same time I gotta keep this thing going. I can't Just let this be a one-time thing.– TreVeyon Henderson
“He’s gonna have to learn to make an ugly three and four, and turn a gain of four into five or six and not look for that home run all the time, but that’s the give and take you have with a guy like TreVeyon,” Day said. “But what an exciting start to his freshman year here.”
The plan to ride Henderson was abundantly clear early for Ohio State. The freshman, who replaced Miyan Williams as the team’s starter at running back, touched the ball on all five of the Buckeyes’ plays on their opening possession of the game, and he finished the first quarter alone with 10 carries.
Henderson failed to bust a run of double-digit yardage until the second quarter, but the continued commitment to the ground game paid dividends for Ohio State. Henderson scored on a 5-yard rush to give Ohio State a 10-6 lead halfway through the second quarter, and finally broke off a gash play three minutes into the second half, when he took a Stroud handoff 48 yards for a touchdown.
“We already knew he was special,” Stroud said. “He has a God-given talent, he put it all on display today, showed the whole nation what he can do. He’s just started. It was amazing watching him do what he did today, and I feel like he’ll do even better.”
Day said this past week that the Buckeye offense needed to strike a better balance after the team passed for nearly 500 yards and rushed for just 128 against Oregon, and the scale certainly swung back in the opposite direction on Saturday. While Stroud failed to hit the 200-yard mark for the first time in his young career, the Buckeye run game mounted 323 yards, with Teague tacking on an extra 62 to Henderson’s total.
Just two games after rushing for 125 yards and looking like RB1 against Minnesota, Williams did not play at all for Ohio State Saturday. Day said the redshirt freshman was not held out because of injury, but that he did miss a practice this week.
“We were playing the hot hand there,” Day said. “I thought Master practiced well, Miyan did miss one of the practices this week and wasn’t feeling well. Those guys practiced a little bit better. It wasn’t like we were holding him out, but TreVeyon was hot, so coach Alford went with him.”
Henderson’s hand appeared hot enough to put a stranglehold on Ohio State’s top depth chart spot at running back for the foreseeable future with his performance, and the first-year Buckeye has no shortage of time to continue adding to his highlight reel moving forward.
“I’m excited right now, but at the same time I gotta keep this going,” Henderson said. “I can’t just let this be a one-time thing. I gotta stay hungry, go back to practice this week coming up, work hard again and do it again next Saturday.”
- #9 Ohio State 41, tulsa 20
- • Ohio State survives a scare against Tulsa
- • treveyon Henderson bailed out the buckeye offense.
- • matt barnes will likely continue to call defensive plays
- • C.j. stroud is confident despite criticism and his injury
- • OHIO STATE POSTGAME • notebook • quotebook
- • PHOTOS • Five things • debriefing • social reax • three key stats