Despite a lot of hot takes floating around the internet this week about the comparative merits of Ohio State and Rutgers, the Buckeyes didn't seem to have much trouble putting the Scarlet Knights away on Saturday. The game ended up 56-17, and it was never particularly close. Ohio State got it done on both sides of the ball in this one.
With the country's playoff picture so up in the air, it was imperative that the Buckeyes continued their offensive onslaught in a game in which they were heavily favored. It's safe to say the team hit that mark. Ohio State put up 500+ yards of offense for the fourth straight game, tying the school record; the Buckeyes also scored 50+ points for the fourth time in a row. There's very little not to like about the OSU offense right now. Let's take a closer look at who's up and who's down now that this one's finished:
Blue Chip Stocks:
J.T Barrett, QB: It's getting difficult not to stray too far into the superlative when talking about OSU's freshman phenom quarterback. He's been putting up video game numbers week after week, and doesn't seem to be showing any signs of slowing down. Barrett looks more comfortable running the offense with each passing week. His ability to make plays while keeping his eyes downfield has made him stand out as one of the best offensive players in the country this year, and today we heard the first respectable endorsement of Barrett as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate (courtesy of Sean McDonough). He accounted for 368 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns on the day. Barrett's got this spot locked up in the Report until further notice.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB: The workhorse back in Ohio State's stable finished Saturday with a 5.8 YPC average and a touchdown. That performance was pretty much par for the course from Elliott, who has strung together an impressive season so far. Elliott (and his half-jersey) has been an incredibly tough out for defenses this year. Things don't get any easier for opponents when Elliott takes a breather, as Curtis Samuel and the rest of the Buckeye backfield have been excellent in relief.
Joey Bosa, DE: Look, Joey Bosa is a terrifying human being. The EDM enthusiast has been a force of nature in 2014, and didn't deviate from the script against Rutgers. Bosa wreaked havoc in the Scarlet Knights' backfield all afternoon. The defensive end, along with linemates Michael Bennett and Steve Miller, gave the Rutgers offense all they could handle on Saturday.
Darron Lee, LB: Darron Lee is a bad, bad man. While the freshman linebacker acts his age on occasion -- he has been pulled several times for misreading play action calls -- he has mostly been a consistent playmaker who is good for one or two "wow" moments a game. Lee stood up Rutgers' Janarion Grant deep in Scarlet Knight territory long enough for Rashad Frazier to pop the ball loose, which Eli Apple scooped and scored. The play was emblematic of Lee's style -- fast, consistent, and hard-hitting.
Run stopping: Okay, so this isn't really a "junk bond." Still, the only area in which the Buckeyes looked weak on Saturday was when Rutgers decided to run the ball. Part of that was schematic--OSU dropped a lot of guys into coverage to prevent the home-run plays that have plagued the secondary all year--but the Buckeyes didn't look sharp trying to bring down Rutgers' ball carriers. Desmon Peoples and Justin Goodwin were good for 147 yards on 26 carries, including two scores by Peoples. There's no need to panic, obviously, as the D looked more than capable on Saturday. But Jeremy Langford is coming on November 8th, and the Buckeyes will need to do a better job bringing him down if they hope to get revenge for last season's loss.
BUY: Raekwon McMillan's learning curve. The much-hyped freshman linebacker really seems to be hitting his stride. McMillan, who has been senior Curtis Grant's understudy for most of the year, took the majority of snaps on Saturday, and made the most of them. It seemed like we were hearing his name on every other play, and seeing that No. 5 jersey involved in every gang tackle. McMillan's growth has been fun to watch.
BUY: Jalin Marshall's gamebreaking ability. Marshall was Ohio State's leading receiver on the day, with three grabs for 58 yards. He's yet to bust a game wide open, but there's little doubt that he has the chops to do so. Marshall, who is also used on sweeps and punt returns, showed good hands and good vision on Saturday. It's good to see Meyer and co. putting the ball in the hands of such a capable playmaker.
Sell: Urban's personnel decisions. It's hard to find many gripes with how the game went on Saturday, but Coach Meyer's decision to keep J.T. Barrett in the game as long as he did is cause for some mild concern. The game was effectively over by halftime, and Barrett didn't need to keep playing into the fourth quarter. Little things like that always stand out. They're even more apparent on a day like Saturday, in which the Buckeyes saw Cam Burrows, Rashad Frazier, and Devan Bogard all go down with injuries.