Rutgers Debriefing: Ohio State Smashes Rutgers in Most Encouraging Performance Yet

By Kevin Harrish on October 3, 2021 at 9:45 am
Ohio State blasted Rutgers

That was what we've all been waiting for.

After a slow start to the season which included two slogging wins and a heartbreaking loss, the Buckeyes obliterated Akron last week behind their most complete performance of the season. But the Zips are quite literally one of the worst teams in college football, so in order to conjure any real optimism, Ohio State was going to have to look like that against a team with a pulse.

Mission accomplished.

The Buckeyes traveled to face what is probably the most talented Rutgers team they've ever faced (which admittedly doesn't say all that much) and made them look like one of the worst. The offense looked unstoppable, the defense looked unbreakable, and the game was effectively over by the end of the first quarter.

Finally, the Buckeyes looked like the Buckeyes.

TL;DR: Just the Facts, Ma'am

After a week of rest, C.J. Stroud reclaimed his throne as Ohio State's starting quarterback and he showed why he won the job in the first place. Stroud looked more comfortable, confident and frankly talented than we've seen him all year. Oh, and another homerun rush from TreVeyon Henderson certainly didn't hurt.

On defense, Ohio State was arguably even more dominant. Rutgers scored once on the starters, and even then it was just a miscommunication – not a breakdown in scheme or execution. Remove that 75-yard touchdown pass and the Scarlet Knights had a whopping 67 yards of total offense in the first half.

Folks, it was vintage Buckeye dominance.

How it went down


Stroud's performance on Saturday certainly passed the eye test, and it was impressive in the stat book as well. In his return start, Stroud completed 17-of-23 passes for 330 yards and five touchdowns – a very Justin Fields stat line with just one more incompletion than score.

That obviously meant the receivers had themselves a day, too. Chris Olave had five catches for 119 yards and two scores, Garrett Wilson had three receptions for 71 yards and a score, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba had two catches for 66 yards. But the receivers weren't the only ones – the tight ends and fullbacks (yes, a fullback in 2021) combined for seven catches and two touchdowns with Jeremy Ruckert matching a career-high with four catches.

Henderson didn't play past the first quarter as a precaution after getting banged up, but he still finished with eight carries for 71 yards and a touchdown. With Miyan Williams unavailable, Master Teague and Marcus Crowley handled rushing duties for most of the game and combined for a respectable 110 yards on 18 carries.

Helmet Stickers
  • C.J. Stroud – This was his best performance in a Buckeye uniform. Apparently, all he needed was a little rest.
  • Offensive Line – The slobs kept Stroud clean all game and opened up absolutely gaping holes in the running game. 
  • TreVeyon Henderson – He only played one quarter, but it was more than enough. He entered the game averaging more than eight yards per carry, and somehow that number improved on Saturday.


As good as Ohio State looked on offense, the Buckeyes were equally dominant on defense this week.

While the defensive line didn't put up the same gaudy tackle for loss and sack numbers this week, they certainly made up for it in the turnover column, picking off three passes. And for just the second time in program history, Ohio State now has defensive scores in three consecutive games.

With Denzel Burke's pick-six, the first-team defense actually scored just as many points as they allowed (more, if you consider that Rutgers also missed the extra point). 

Helmet Stickers
  • Ronnie Hickman – Once again, the Rocket was all over the field, finishing with a team-high 11 total tackles, seven of which were total tackles – more than double anyone else on the team.
  • Denzel Burke – Not only did he get in the end zone for a pick-six, he helped lock down the Rutgers passing game the entire time he was on the field.
  • The linebackers – Ohio State had just four scholarship linebackers available for this game, and they played an excellent game, helping hold Rutgers to just 37 first-half rushing yards.

Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment of the Game

After a long week, President Tressel needed some time to unwind before the big game, so he spent the early portion of the afternoon at the local farmers and artisan market where he picked up some world-class zucchini for dinner and a beautiful bird feeder to place outside his living room window. 

As game time approached, Tressel poured himself a tall glass of carrot juice and sat in his trusty recliner and turned the television to the appropriate station. The broadcast noted that this was Ohio State's second conference game of the season, but Tressel lamented to nobody in particular that Rutgers still doesn't *feel* like a Big Ten opponent.

As the game commenced, he had a thought about how this game could pan out. On one hand, Tressel would be quite pleased to see the Buckeyes dominate in a convincing fashion. On the other, he would be admittedly disappointed to not see much special teams play from Ohio State today.

But then it occurred to him – just because the Buckeyes weren't going to be punting much today didn't mean he couldn't appreciate some quality special teams play from Ohio State's opponent. So when the Buckeyes made their first stop of the game, Tressel sat up in his chair in anticipation of what he hoped would be a clean and respectable punt.

Instead, the snap went to the upback and he threw an absolute duck of a pass 10 yards downfield to seemingly nobody in particular that should have been intercepted and taken the other way. It was one of the most abysmal fake punts he'd ever seen and was downright disrespectful to special teams play as a whole.

"That's why you'll never belong in this conference," Tressel muttered under his breath.

It was over when

...Denzel Burke strolled into the end zone after his first career interception. It was already clear that Rutgers wasn't going to put up much resistance on defense, but if the offense is giving away points too, just throw in the towel.

Up Next: Ohio State returns home to host another "conference" foe in Maryland at noon in the 'Shoe.

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