Ohio State looked to remain undefeated in Piscataway, NJ, hitting the road to take on a struggling Rutgers team. Things went about as expected, despite no lack of effort from the Scarlet Knights, the Buckeyes were able to roll in a big 56-21 victory.
OSU came out firing early on, forcing turnovers on two of Rutgers’ first four plays from scrimmage. You could tell as the game carried on that the Buckeyes did not have the usual fire we had grown accustomed to in the games leading to this point, but it would not matter much as the talent disparity between the two teams was just too great for the Scarlet and Gray not to dominate.
Justin Fields was scintillating in the first half, completing 12-of-15 passes for 241 yards and three touchdowns while also ran for 30 yards on three carries. J.K. Dobbins made the most of his limited work, rushing for 89 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Dobbins’ day was done at the half, and Fields would play just one additional drive out of the break — adding another casual 64 yards and a TD pass.
Shaun Wade had a big game on the other side of the ball, intercepting the very first pass of the afternoon by Rutgers QB Johnny Langan. Shortly thereafter, he and Jeff Okudah combined to knock the ball out of the hands of a Scarlet Knights receiver for a fumble, with the two takeaways setting up the first 14 Buckeye points of the afternoon.
If not for a muffed punt by Garrett Wilson late in the first quarter to set up a short field, Rutgers likely does not score any points against OSU’s starting defense.
Ohio State’s defense came out swinging, as Shaun Wade batted a ball to himself on an acrobatic interception to give the Buckeyes the ball on the second play from scrimmage. After a pair of solid gains by Justin Fields — one on the ground and one through the air — J.K. Dobbins rumbled for an easy 18-yard score, putting OSU up 7-0 just two minutes into the game despite starting out on defense.
Rutgers could not get out of its own way early on, as Wade and Jeff Okudah combined to force a fumble on the Scarlet Knights’ next drive — the home team now having run four offensive plays and turning it over twice. Ohio State took over on a short field, and it would take just three plays for Fields to find Binjimen Victor in the corner of the end zone for an 11-yard score, with the good guys up 14-0 almost instantly.
The Scarlet Knights put together their first good drive of the day on the third try, and by that I mean they didn’t turn it over — and even got a first down! They would still have to punt, however, as OSU for the first time started a drive deep in its own territory. After feeding Dobbins for a few nice gains, Fields found a wide open Chris Olave 58 yards downfield. One play later, Dobbins scored his second TD of the day, Bucks now up 21-0.
Rutgers finally received some good fortune on the ensuing drive, as after the Buckeye defense forced a punt, Garrett Wilson muffed the ball directly into the Knights’ hands, setting up a very short field. A couple plays later, Isaih Pacheco was able to break off a 26-yard touchdown run for a shocking score against Ohio State’s starting defense.
The home crowd had some new-found life as the Buckeye offense took the field, but it would be very short-lived. Fields continued to get his passing reps in, hitting Victor and K.J. Hill for a pair of first downs before a 35-yard strike to Hill found pay dirt. Now leading 28-7, Ohio State scored four touchdowns in its first 19 offensive plays.
You could tell early on the Buckeyes were playing with significantly less enthusiasm that has been typical of this team, and it’s kind of hard to blame them given the level of the opponent. Regardless, OSU was forced to punt for the first time all day on its fifth possession, and Rutgers looked to get back on the scoreboard still trailing by 21 early in the second quarter.
It was not to be, and following a nice punt return by Demario McCall, Ohio State started its next drive at the 50-yard line. It looked as though the Bucks were destined for the end zone, as a 16-yard pass to Olave was followed up by back-to-back 13-yard rushes by Fields and Dobbins, setting OSU up at the seven-yard line. Dobbins would try to punch it up the middle four times, but was denied on the goal line as Rutgers took over on downs.
Giving credit where credit is due, the Scarlet Knights were clearly overmatched, but put up quite an effort against a somewhat lackadaisical Buckeye unit. Davon Hamilton came up with the first sack of the day for the Silver Bullets on the ensuing Rutgers drive, and again OSU started on the 50 with about 1:30 to go until the half.
Day, not content with his team’s play early on, was not ready to sit on the ball and head into the break. Instead, he looked to air it out. After Fields found his tight end Luke Farrell wide open down field for 22 yards, he would lob it up to Victor on the very next throw for a pretty 24-yard touchdown pass, ending the half on a high note with the Buckeyes now leading 35-7 and the starters’ days coming to a close.
Binjimen Victor snags his second touchdown of the first half! pic.twitter.com/qSY1AlzHAE— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 16, 2019
Somewhat surprisingly, Fields would return for the Buckeyes’ first drive of the second half. He made the most of his extra playing time, and after Olave made a spectacular catch for a 42-yard gain despite getting interfered with, Farrell hauled in a 14-yard TD pass as Ohio State took a 42-7 lead — enough to finally seal Fields’ day.
My name is Chris Olave and I could care less about pass interference. pic.twitter.com/w7yw27xB2c— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 16, 2019
Ohio State’s backup defenders are no slouches, as K’Vaughan Pope put his name in the ledger for the second-straight week. On third down, Pope batted Langan’s pass into the air and was able to come down with it for his second pick in two weeks, setting the Bucks up at the Rutgers 25-yard line. After a few nice runs from Master Teague, Chris Chugunov found Jake Hausmann in the end zone for yet another Ohio State score, with the lead now ballooned to 49-7 with just under nine minutes remaining in the third quarter.
With the Scarlet Knights starters still on the field, the home team continued to try and put points on the board. Late in the third quarter, Langan hit Bo Melton deep downfield, able to shrug off a pair of defenders en route to his team’s second touchdown of the afternoon, now trailing 49-14 heading into the fourth quarter.
Ohio State was not done adding to the scoreboard itself, however. After Steele Chambers drove the Buckeyes down into Rutgers territory, Chugunov hit Jaelen Gill on a screen pass. A play that looked destined to pick up maybe just a few yards wound up going 32 yards to the house as the redshirt freshman showed off his impressive strength and broke a bunch of tackles as he would not be denied a touchdown, extending the lead to 56-14 with just over eight minutes to go.
OKAY JAELEN GILL WE SEE YOU pic.twitter.com/lxy4bNyHYZ— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 16, 2019
Rutgers would add one more score before everything was said and done, aided by a Gunnar Hoak fumble, and the Buckeyes would go on to win 56-21.
Ohio State will now enter its toughest stretch of the season, with a huge game against Penn State next weekend in Columbus. A win over the Nittany Lions would solidify the Buckeyes’ place in the Big Ten Championship, as the pivotal matchup is slated to kickoff at Noon on Fox.