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You’re Nuts: Which Ohio State record will be broken first?

A pair of Buckeyes are close to breaking program records.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.

In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.

This week’s topic: Which Ohio State record will be broken first?

Gene’s Take: Career TD Receptions — Chris Olave

(David Boston, 1996-98: 34 TDs // Olave, 2018-21: 30 TDs)

Notice how the question is which record will be broken first and not which will be broken, period? It is pretty insane to think about, but it is almost a guarantee at this point that a pair of longstanding Ohio State program records will fall this year. What is a tad less surprising is that both of these feats will occur on the offensive side of the ball, where the Buckeyes have quickly turned into an unstoppable freight train moving at the speed of sound.

Through seven games this season, Ryan Day’s offense is ranked as the best unit in the entire country. The team is averaging just under 560 yards per game on a whopping 8.44 yards per play, while also averaging an FBS-high 49.3 points per game — 3.4 points per game better than the next best team behind them in that category, Alabama. Since C.J. Stroud has returned from his one-game hiatus to rest his shoulder, the Ohio State offense has scored 150 points on 156 plays with him in the game. In fact, up until the third quarter against Indiana, the Buckeyes had a stretch of 19 consecutive drives resulting in a touchdown dating back to the Rutgers game. That is simply bananas.

The competition certainly hasn’t been the fiercest, but that level of efficiency is nothing to scoff at regardless of the opponent. We knew what we would get from Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson coming into this season, but the emergence of Jaxon Smith-Njigba as another stud receiver as well as the continued week-to-week improvement of Stroud has taken the Ohio State passing offense to the next level. Throw in Jeremy Ruckert, who caught a pair of touchdowns against the Hoosiers, and an offensive line mauling its opposition in the trenches right now, and I just don't see how any team could possibly halt this aerial attack.

I love me some TreVeyon Henderson, but because of the way the Buckeyes are tossing the rock right now, I think Olave will etch his name into the record books before the incredible freshman running back. While the future first round NFL Draft pick has been quiet at times this year, thrice catching two or less passes in a game, he has still managed to score at least one touchdown in five of Ohio State’s seven contests. Olave has already recorded a trio of multi-score games, and with some big matchups coming down the pipe, he could be in for an increased workload.

Big Ten teams are not used to going up against a passing attack like Ohio State’s. Most of these programs are built to stop the run, and I think we will see teams like Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan attempt to key in on that and look to limit Henderson as much as possible to prevent the Buckeyes from earning any easy yards. Ryan Day will have no problem with this, as he can easily take the top off of any defense with a quick strike down the field to Ohio State’s best deep threat: Chris Olave.

As previously mentioned, I think it is only a matter of time before both of these records fall. Honestly, if I were a betting man — which, as Josh knows, I am — the safe money would probably be on Henderson to break his record first with the run he is on right now. However, an increased focus on the Ohio State run game against some of these higher-ranked opponents on the schedule could potentially limit those opportunities. I don't think there is a defensive back that exists in the Big Ten who is capable of covering Olave 1-on-1, so I'll take my odds on the former three-star recruit turned superstar wide receiver.

Josh’s Take: Freshman TDs — TreVeyon Henderson

(Maurice Clarett, 2002: 18 TDs // Henderson, 2021: 14 TDs)

Gene, this is probably the easiest argument I’ve had to make for our You’re Nuts column. It comes down to simple math: TreVeyon Henderson has 14 touchdowns in seven games. For all the math whizzes out there, that is an average of two per game. He has scored 14 touchdowns on 87 touches (79 carries, eight receptions) — meaning he reaches the endzone about once every six times he gets the ball. So, that means he is going to score approximately 50 touchdowns by the end of the season, shattering Maurice Clarett’s record for total TD by a freshman (don’t check my math).

In all likelihood, Henderson’s scoring frequency will drop. Scoring a touchdown once every six touches is just not sustainable — although, if he wants to prove me wrong, I’ll gladly eat crow. However, I believe that the number of touches Henderson receives throughout the game will go up, increasing his overall opportunity to score.

The fantastic freshman is currently averaging about 11 carries per game, and that is buoyed by a 24-carry performance against Tulsa. Against Akron, Rutgers, and Indiana, he needed less than 10 carries in each of those games to score a total of six touchdowns. As the Buckeyes get into the meat of their schedule, and take on tougher opponents, I think we will see Henderson getting at least 15-20 carries per game. When he was previously fed 15+ carries, which has only happened twice, he scored three TD in each of those games (Tulsa, Maryland).

As if Henderson has not been impressive enough on the ground, let’s not forget his receiving ability. He only has eight catches on the year, but he has turned those into three touchdowns. If Ohio State were to struggle on the ground, I believe Henderson could average 4-5 catches per game, easy. He played wide receiver and defensive back in high school, so we know the hands are there — and I don’t think we’ve seen him drop one of the few targets thrown his way this season.

Despite the fact that Henderson has been in a bit of a timeshare with other backs, he has proven that he can be a consistent three-down back if needed. Ryan Day does not need to sub him out in certain packages, although I think it’s fair to say that we don’t know much about his pass protection at this point. Otherwise, I expect Henderson to play a ton of snaps during the second half of the season. At this point, why wouldn’t he?

Sure, Ohio State’s schedule will get more difficult, but we haven’t seen anybody put this clamps on Henderson. His “worst” game was against a solid defense in Oregon, and after only three touches in his first collegiate game, Henderson rushed for 54 yards and a score… while sharing the backfield. We just saw him carve up Indiana, and while their defense has been decimated by injuries, Micah McFadden and the front six (or seven) was still considered the strength of that unit. He scored three touchdowns on 10 touches…

Only one thing could derail his chances, and I’m not putting that out into the atmosphere. Ohio State has had the luxury of resting their freshman running back, so I don’t foresee wear-and-tear being an issue down the line. This guy looks like a generational talent at this point in his career, and Day can seemingly pick and choose when he wants to feature Henderson. With so many other weapons on the field, defenses can’t focus solely on the running back. If they do, good luck playing man coverage against all of Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

I can’t close out the argument without also giving props to Henderson’s offensive line. They’re awesome. That’s it… those are the props. This line has mowed defenses down, often times opening up hilariously-sized holes for him to run through. Being surrounded by so much talent, and having a mammoth line to block in front of you, just makes it that much “easier” for Henderson to get cracks at the endzone.

Ohio State is guaranteed five more games. At his current pace, Henderson would add 10 more touchdowns during the regular reason, putting him at 24. If you throw guarantees out, there is a chance OSU plays eight more games, giving him a crack at 30 (30!). But I’ll be conservative here. Henderson should have no problem scoring 20 touchdowns. He will eclipse the impressive total set by Clarett, and 20 is a number I could see standing for a long, long time.