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Dante Booker headlined Ohio State’s dominant defensive effort against Rutgers

Last Saturday night NYC was spelled OSU.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Just like last season, Ohio State’s first shutout of the season came against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. Also just like last season, the Buckeyes managed to stop both the run and pass in dominant fashion:

  • Rutgers gained just 117 yards on 41 rush attempts. Sometimes team rushing statistics can be misleading due to sacks counting as negative rushing yards, but considering Ohio State only managed one sack: It’s safe to say Rutgers had nowhere to run the ball all night long.
  • The Rutgers passing attack didn’t do much better, as starting quarterback Kyle Bolin managed to complete just five of his 14 passes for 56 yards. Overall, the Scarlet Knights averaged a putrid 3.4 yards per attempt and were picked off twice.
  • Ohio State’s defense doesn’t always dominate lesser competition by making copious amounts of big plays. Instead, they do a great job of limiting opposing offenses’ chunk plays which forces them to drive the length of the field all game. This mission was accomplished Saturday night, as Rutgers had just one run of 20-plus yards and one completion over 15 yards.

It’s hard to have 60 minutes of excitement when the score is 35-0 at halftime, but there were still plenty of standout moments from the Silver Bullets. Let’s take a look at a few.

Are we positive it’s possible to block Sam Hubbard?

The game actually started out great for Rutgers, as they managed to get the Buckeyes to go three-and-out on the game’s opening possession. While most over-matched offenses have taken their chances against the Buckeyes’ youthful secondary, Rutgers decided to run the ball directly at Hubbard on their first two plays. This strategy didn’t work:

Hubbard’s freakish athleticism — don’t forget he played lacrosse and safety in high school(!) — had him pegged as a potential first-round pick last season, and nothing has changed so far in 2017. Hubbard is one of three Buckeyes with multiple sacks and leads all defensive linemen with eight solo tackles. His speed helps him hang with even the most-electric (alleged) playmakers in the country, and as he proved in the video above, it’s also pretty tough to overpower Hubbard and run the ball directly at him.

Don’t sleep on LB Dante Booker

Jerome Baker entered this season as the team’s most-versatile linebacker since Darron Lee, and Chris Worley has proven to be plenty capable of policing the opposition’s A-gaps. Still, Booker was the best linebacker on the field Saturday night. Talent was never the question, as Booker stands 6’3” and weighs 230 pounds with 4.4 speed. Watching him start to put everything together and take advantage of opportunities has been a great development for the defense:

Sometimes Ohio State sacrifices size for speed on defense, but other times they’re able to get the best of both worlds with players like Booker. The ability to play sideline-to-sideline cannot be coached, and it’s certainly hard to capture the edge on a defense with an abundance of these types of players.

Damon Webb continues to play well

Webb was the only member of Ohio State’s secondary last season to not be selected in the first-round of the 2016 NFL draft. Because of this, he was mostly viewed as the sore thumb of an otherwise glorious unit. We’ve seen a more-aggressive version of Webb this time around, as he’s already doubled his interception total in just five games.

Ohio State’s secondary had some hiccups early in the season, but those mostly came along the sideline or at the expense of slot corner Damon Arnette. Webb has been the steady presence in the middle that the defense needed, and while he hasn’t provided the same caliber splash plays as Malik Hooker or Vonn Bell, the season is still young, and good things happen when you’re always around the ball.

Ohio State has now outscored Rutgers 219-24 in four games since 2014. Next up is Maryland, who the Buckeyes have beaten 62-3, 49-28, and 52-24 over the past three seasons. Here’s to hoping this Saturday provides some glimpses of competitive football before Ohio State travels to Lincoln, Nebraska on October 14.

The final: 56-0, Ohio State

Defensive player of the game: Dante Booker (4 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack, 1 INT)

Defensive play of the game: Dante Booker interception.

Next Victim: Maryland. Keep it classy, Columbus.