The Ohio State Buckeyes defense took their trip to Piscataway, N.J. as an opportunity to show their former coordinator just how good they could be. With former OSU assistant Chris Ash now the head man at Rutgers, his former unit, now coached by former, longtime Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, flexed their muscle, allowing the offense time to ramp up into dominating performance. After a 58-0 victory in Columbus last year, the Buckeyes followed up with a 56-0 win on Saturday.
The OSU offense started slow, seemingly forgetting the types of plays that had been reliable in the weeks following the loss to Oklahoma. However, once quarterback J.T. Barrett and the offense found their flow, records fell and points were aplenty.
The Buckeyes dominated on both sides of the ball, wracking up 628 yards of offense, compared to Rutgers’ 209. OSU came pretty close to head coach Urban Meyer’s proverbial 50/50 offensive split, with 342 passing and 286 rushing yards, despite the fact that the Scarlet Knights held the ball for nearly 11 more minutes than the Buckeyes.
Before the game, Ohio State announced that defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones, running back Antonio Williams and safety Erick Smith would not play in the game. The former two were for medical reasons, but no explanation was given for Smith’s absence.
After the Buckeyes went three-and-out on the opening drive, freshman punter Drue Chrisman pinned the Scarlet Knights inside the 11. After the OSU defensive line dominated, Rutgers returned the favor with a punt, and despite a positive return from K.J. Hill, Denzel Ward was flagged for an unnecessary block in the back to set the Buckeyes up at their own 40. It would be one of many penalties that negated positive plays.
After true-freshman running back J.K. Dobbins picked up 12 yards on the first drive, the Buckeyes’ second time on the field saw the return of Mike Weber, who has been limited for most of the season. He would not be limited against Rutgers. On the first play of the drive, Barrett kept the option-read for a 37-yard gain. On the run, Barrett broke 10,000 career yards, adding to his school and conference records.
After a Rutgers pass interference, Weber ran the ball twice, the second time breaking the goal line, to put OSU up 7-0. The score was the first of the season for the 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Using two quarterbacks on the subsequent drive, Rutgers was able to advance into Ohio State territory, but was eventually forced to punt. Following a Scarlet Knight false start, OSU was flagged for running into the kicker, but since the ball went out of bounds at the two yard line, Rutgers declined the penalty.
Following another three-and-out, Chrisman shanked his punt, but was helped out by a Rutgers penalty, and the Scarlet Knights began their drive on the OSU 43. Aided by an odd penalty against Nick Bosa, the Scarlet Knights were able to move the ball into the red zone, but Tracy Sprinkle deflected a pass from back-up quarterback Jonathan Lewis, and linebacker Dante Booker came down with the interception.
Following a Barrett nine-yard gain, Dobbins raced up the middle for a 34-yard pickup. Barrett completed passes to Parris Campbell, Marcus Baugh, Hill, and McLaurin (although that one was for a loss), and Weber powered up the middle for an eight-yard gain before the first quarter came to an end.
On the first play of the second quarter, Weber ran through a mountain-sized hole into the endzone, for his second score of the game. Five seconds into the quarter, the Buckeyes went up 14-0.
As the Buckeye defensive line began to exert their will, the Rutgers quarterbacks found themselves under pressure more often than not.
Halfway through the second quarter, the same could be said for Barrett. On first down, defensive back K.J. Gray got the sack after being unblocked. On second down, Barrett was hurried, and wide receiver Binjimen Victor dropped the pass that would have gotten the Buckeyes to third-and-manageable. Then on third down, Barrett was forced to step up into the pocket, and as he scrambled to the right, he found Johnnie Dixon behind the Rutgers secondary, and completed the 70-yard pass to pick up his 80th career passing touchdown to put OSU up 21-0.
With the score, Barrett became the fourth player in college football history to accumulate 80 passing and 30 rushing TDs, joining Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick, Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour and Florida’s Tim Tebow.
On the next drive, Barrett hit Dixon on a comeback route, and the WR then turned to the outside and tight-roped down the sideline to pick up his second touchdown in as many possessions. The score ended up going for 39 yards, and put the Buckeyes up 28-0 with 4:08 remaining in the first half.
Dixon finished with 115 yards on three catches, including two touchdowns. McLaurin had five receptions for 51 yards, and Victor had a pair of catches for 69 yards.
After a three-and-out for Rutgers, the OSU offense found itself in a 3rd-and-13 position following a sack. On the play, Barrett found Victor for a 46-yard pickup. After a handful of passes, Weber got into the endzone for his third touchdown of the night, putting the Buckeyes up 35-0 with less than a minute to go before halftime.
On the drive, Barrett went 4-for-7, including a 13-yarder to Terry McLaurin that put the Buckeye QB at the top of the school’s all-time passing list, moving ahead of Art Schlichter.
At the half, Barrett was 11-17 for 216 yards and a pair of TDs. On the ground, the QB and Dobbins both had 48 yards, while Weber, in addition to his three scores, had 24 yards. Six Buckeyes had receptions in the first half. Barrett found success throughout the first half stepping up into the pocket in order to buy time to find an open receiver.
On the other side of the ball, the Silver Bullets held Rutgers to just 77 total yards (52 rushing, 25 passing), and picked up a pair of sacks in the first half as well.
On the first drive of the second half, Damon Webb picked off a third-down pass from Lewis to give the Buckeyes possession at the Rutgers 41. OSU couldn’t convert on a fourth down, turning the ball back over to the Scarlet Knights on their own 36.
After a third touchdown pass to Dixon was called back due to a penalty on the receiver, Barrett completed a 27-yard pass to McLaurin, then the QB kept the ball and picked up 30-yards, but McLaurin was flagged for two penalties on the play, an unnecessary roughness and an unsportsmanlike conduct.
However, the drive ended on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Victor, in which the 6-foot-4 receiver skied over the Rutgers defender to increase the Buckeye lead to 42-0. Barrett ended the game going 14-of-22 with 275 yards through the air with three passing touchdowns to go along with his 89 yards on the ground.
On the following drive, Rutgers starting QB Kyle Bolin completed a jailbreak screen against a blitzing Buckeye front. On the play, running back Robert Martin took the ball for 36-yards before before being forced out of bounds. The play was the biggest gainer for the Scarlet Knights on the day.
With four minutes left in the third quarter, back-up QB Dwayne Haskins entered the game, as did running back Demario McCall. With Williams not making the trip, the explosive second year RB got the playing time that has eluded him in the first four games of the season.
A minute into the fourth quarter Haskins hooked up with McCall on a wheel route for a 35-yard touchdown. While Haskins has been making a name for himself with his rifle arm, on the TD pass, he showed an impressive touch, dropping the ball into McCall’s waiting hands, allowing him to never break stride until he’d crossed the goal line putting the Buckeyes up 49-0.
The score continued a streak for the Buckeyes against the Scarlet Knights. In the schools’ four lifetime match-ups, the Buckeyes have scored at least 49 points in each.
On the next drive, with the Buckeyes pinned back at their own 2 following a muffed punt by McCall, the recently cleared Joe Burrow came in to run the offense, which consisted mostly of handing the ball off to McCall as he got used to game speed.
Following a pair of completions, McCall made a nifty cut just passed the line of scrimmage and out ran the Rutgers defense to pick up his first TD of the year. The 48-yard rush put McCall over the 100-yard mark, making him the leading rusher for the Buckeyes on the game. With 8:06 left in the game, Ohio State led 56-0.
McCall finished the game with 103 yards on the ground, Dobbins finished with 53 yards on six carries, and Weber had 44 on 10 carries.
With Rutgers on an impressive 13-play drive late in the fourth quarter, on 4th-and-4, Ash decided to call on his kicker Andrew Harte, but the kick went off of the right upright, preserving Ohio State’s shutout.
On the night, OSU’s three quarterbacks completed passes to 10 different receivers, three of whom found their way into the endzone.
Next week, the Buckeyes will host the Maryland Terrapins at 4 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on FOX.