It was a rainy and dreary day in The Horseshoe, as the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes battled the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in an early-season Big Ten conference clash. Even though the weather wasn’t perfect, the Buckeyes improved their record to a perfect 2-0, after defeating the Scarlet Knights, 52-3. For OSU, this marked the 900th win in program history.
Once again, quarterback Dwayne Haskins did work in the air. In the first half, he had three passing touchdowns. He would ended the game with four touchdowns and 233 yards off 20-of-23 passing.
The success in the air led to multi-catch performances from a number of Buckeye wide receivers. Parris Campbell and KJ Hill each had five catches halfway through the third quarter. Johnnie Dixon had a highlight with a 44-yard TD en route to a two touchdown day. Campbell ended the game with five catches for 64 yards and one score; Hill had five catches for 25 yards; and Dixon concluded the afternoon with a game-leading total of 89 yards, and four catches.
On the ground, running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber found success, but not to the level they had in Week 1 against Oregon State. Dobbins found the endzone in the second quarter, scoring from two yards out. The La Grange, Texas native ended the game with 73 yards on 12 carries. After a career-high rushing performance last week, Weber was held to 31 yards on eight carries against the Scarlet Knights. The leading rusher for OSU, however, was QB Tate Martell. With the help of a 47-yard TD, the backup QB had 95 yards on eight carries.
Defensively, Ohio State stifled the Rutgers offense led by quarterback Artur Sitkowski and running back Raheem Blackshear. Sitkowski was knocked out of the game just before halftime after taking a sack from Nick Bosa. Even before the game-ending hit, Sitkowski was under duress. Chase Young had a multi-sack day, sacking both Sitkowski and his understudy, Giovanni Rescigno. OSU cornerback Kendall Sheffield tallied an interception and a pass breakup on Sitkowski.
The visitors got the ball first to open up the game. However, they didn’t do much on the opening drive. Robert Landers and Bosa bottled up Rutgers’ Blackshear on the first two plays; Sitkowski’s first pass of the game went to Blackshear for four yards—leading to a punt. On the punt, though, Demario McCall bobbled it, before regaining possession as a caravan of Scarlet Knights tried to pull the ball away from him.
Recovering the muffed punt proved to be huge, as Haskins marched the offense down the field. A 12-yard sideline strike to Campbell got the the Bucks to mid-field. Four plays later, Haskins dialed deep to an open Dixon, who hauled in a 38-yard catch for the game’s first points. Five plays to march 67 yards—all in under two minutes.
Rutgers’ woes continued, and began quickly on the kickoff, as Blackshear elected to return the ball out of his own endzone. He would only get to the 13-yard line. The rusher redeemed himself on the first play of the second drive, gaining seven. But, the passing game stalled out due to the Buckeye defense applying pressure. Two incompletions brought another three-and-out, giving the Bucks the ball back after a 56-second drive.
Ohio State began drive No. 2 of the day with a 5-yard rush by J.K. Dobbins. However, things weren’t as successful as on the first drive. An incompletion to Campbell, followed by the Scarlet Knights bringing the house on third down—and getting a sack of Haskins—led to Drue Chrisman getting called out to punt the ball away.
A sliver of offensive success found its way to Rutgers on the next drive. An immediate 7-yard pass to Bo Melton was followed up by Blackshear for a rush. His rush only went a yard, but a third down completion moved the sticks. Sitkowski, facing pressure, found his receiver over the middle for four yards and the first. This would be the only time the sticks moved on this series, as three plays later, the punt unit came back onto the field.
C.J. Saunders was out receiving the punt this time around, and just like last week, disaster nearly struck. Calling for a fair catch, a Rutgers defender ran into Saunders, which caused the ball to bounce off his hand. The referees called kick-catch interference—a penalty that moved the Bucks 15 yards further downfield. Starting the Buckeyes at mid-field, Weber quickly got them into Rutgers territory with a 15-yard rush. Three plays later, Haskins found Luke Farrell for a 10-yard strike, putting OSU in the red zone. After another trio of plays, the Scarlet and Gray were back in the endzone. Haskins hit Campbell over the middle for the 15-yard TD, capping off the drive at seven plays and 65 yards.
Down 14, Rutgers needed to get down the field to get points in a hurry. They opened the next drive with three pass plays; none of which found their respective target. Another punt—and another muff return by McCall—set the Buckeyes in favorable field position.
After Hill received an 11-yard catch for a first down, Dobbins did work on the ground. He helped pick up enough yardage on a third-and-short for a new set of downs, and carried the rock on four straight plays. Haskins hit Austin Mack for a 5-yard route toward the sideline, bringing OSU to the Rutgers 25, and to the end of the first quarter.
Five plays into the new quarter, the Bucks were back in the endzone after Haskins connected with Farrell for a 9-yard completion. Already, Haskins had three passing TDs, and 112 yards on 10-of-12 passing.
Keeping up with the theme of three-and-outs, Rutgers did it again. And again, Ohio State made them pay. Tate Martell was brought into the game with a 21-point lead, and ended up adding to it. Facing a third-and-13, Martell went deep downfield to Terry McLaurin, who had open space around him, as one of the Rutgers defensive backs slipped. The repercussions of that slip were a 51-yard TD and the deficit ballooning to 28 points.
Rutgers got the ball back, and did what they’ve done a handful of times already in the afternoon: go three and out. Haskins checked back into the game, and conducted a 76-yard, 9-play drive for another score.
Finally breaking up a streak of three consecutive three-and-out drives, Sitkowski hit tight end Jerome Washington for a first down. That was the good news of the drive for Rutgers. The bad news was that four plays later, Kendall Sheffield picked off the QB.
Ohio State’s final drive of the half was, like many of the Rutgers drives, a three-and-out.
Rutgers would be the ones to end the half—and it wasn’t a happy ending for Sitkowski. Young collected a sack (and nearly forced a fumble) after blowing past the offensive line. The final play of the half was Bosa tallying a monster sack, which would end up being Sitkowski’s final play of the game.
Halfway through, it was 35-0 Ohio State.
OSU got the ball to start the second half—but Haskins did the same kind of work he did in the first half. The first play of the half was a 15-yard linkup with Campbell; after a Weber rush, Haskins went back to the air to Mack for seven, but 15 more yards were added as a personal foul was committed by the trailing visitors from Piscataway, N.J. Two plays after that, Haskins heaved a pass 44 yards to Campbell, who caught it in the endzone. Eighty-four yards were chewed up in 2:07.
With the score 42-0, things were all but sealed up for the No. 4 team in the country.
Fifth-year senior Giovanni Rescigno checked into the game at QB for the second half, and was able to do something that hasn’t been done in the last two meetings versus OSU: score. Even though Rescigno got rocked by Young for a sack, he moved Rutgers from their own 25 to the OSU 23. From 41 yards out, kicker Justin Davidovicz split the uprights, giving the Scarlet Knights three points.
Not to be outdone in the kicking department, the Buckeyes would make a FG of their own. With Martell conducting the offense, he moved the squad 58 yards—all the way down to the 4-yard line. Instead of going for it when the drive stalled, the kicking unit was brought on. Sean Nuernberger nailed a 21-yarder, pushing the Bucks’ lead back to 42 points.
Later, Martell showed what he could do on the ground. He broke off a 47-yard TD, pushing the lead up to 49 points, 52-3. That would be the final score.
Next up: The TCU Horned Frogs. The Buckeyes will travel to Arlington, Texas for the “neutral” site game next Saturday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on ABC.