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Putting a Sopranos spin on Ohio State’s win over Rutgers

It only makes sense to use elements of James Gandolfini’s alma mater to describe Ohio State’s win over Rutgers.

Syracuse v Rutgers Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

One of my favorite shows ever is The Sopranos. I remember it was the first more adult show that my mom and step-dad let me watch with them growing up. I feel like I’ve watched every episode at least five times. There’s just so many great nuggets throughout the show over the years. Whether it be how amazing Paulie Walnuts is, how hilarious Christopher’s intervention ends up being, or so much else in the series, the show will always be a classic.

Since the late, great James Gandolfini attended Rutgers, I figured why not have some fun with wrapping up the important things to come out of yesterday’s game and make it Sopranos-themed.


On Saturday, Miyan Williams was a horse for the Ohio State offense. Tony fell in love with Ralphie’s horse Pie-O-My, just like Buckeye fans have fallen in love with Williams. Luckily the same end isn’t in store for “Chop” as what happened to Pie-O-My. All we need is Ryan Day to show up at one of the houses of an Ohio State superfan and find a painting of Day and Williams, much like Paulie Walnuts had a painting of Tony and Pie-O-My.

After splitting carries in the first four games of the season, Williams had the workload to himself in the backfield yesterday with TreVeyon Henderson being held out of the game. The running back from Cincinnati outgained Rutgers by himself, racking up 189 yards while the Scarlet Knights only accounted for 187 yards.

Williams made the most of the extra carries, becoming the third Ohio State running back to rush for five touchdowns in the game. Keith Byars was the last Buckeye record five rushing touchdowns, accomplishing the feat in 1984. Prior to Byars, Pete Johnson was the first Ohio State running back to rush for five scores in a game, setting the mark in 1974.

With Henderson working through a foot injury, it’s possible that Williams sees the majority of the carries next week at Michigan State. Sitting out Henderson next week would allow him three weeks to rest his injury before the Buckeyes host Iowa on Oct. 22. No matter how the rest of the timeshare in the backfield goes the rest of the year, at least Williams has put his name into the Ohio State record books.

Artie Bucco

C.J. Stroud is a lot more respected that Artie Bucco was in The Sopranos, I just liken Stroud to Bucco because normally he always feeding people. That wasn’t the case yesterday, with Stroud going 13 of 22 for 154 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. The 154 yards was Stroud’s lowest as a starter during his time at Ohio State. The performance by Stroud was pretty much one of those episodes where Artie ended up crying or doing something stupid.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 01 Rutgers at Ohio State Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s not all Stroud’s fault either, since there was a number of penalties on the Buckeyes for illegal touching that wiped out big gains or touchdowns. But much like the show, where people would take out their frustrations on Artie, Stroud is going to get most of the criticism for the Buckeye passing attack not being as sharp as it normally is.

At least if Stroud was going to have a performance like he did yesterday, it was in a game where Ohio State wasn’t challenged. It would be a lot more concerning if Stroud played like this in a game against Penn State or Michigan, where the results are a little more up in the air.

The Bing

Much like The Bing is home for the Soprano crime syndicate, Ohio Stadium is home for Buckeye fans. With the win yesterday against Rutgers, Ohio State extended their Big Ten home winning streak to 27 games, which is a conference record. The last time the Buckeyes lost at home was in their final home game of the 2015 season, when they lost to Michigan State, 17-14. This streak started up in 2016 with a 58-0 win over Rutgers.

The win also closed out a five-game home stand, which was the third in school history. The Buckeyes also had five-straight home games in 1999 and 2003. The 1999 stretch saw Ohio State go 4-1 in those games, with the only loss coming to Wisconsin. In 2003, as well as this year, Ohio State won all five games during the home stand.

Next week, the Buckeyes hit the road for the first time this year when they head to East Lansing to take on Michigan State. There are three games left on Ohio State’s home schedule this year, with home contests against Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan still left. The Buckeyes have a great shot at finishing the 100th year of football at Ohio Stadium with another perfect home record.

Chasing It

Not that Tony Soprano wasn’t always gambling, but it seemed to go off the rails in season six. There was a time when Tony blew up on Carmela since he wanted to borrow some money for a “sure thing”, and he got even more heated when she didn’t give him the money and he was ONLY able to bet $10,000 on it.

There wasn’t anything in this game that was a sure thing. The real degenerates that bet this game had to sweat it pretty much right to the end, though. Ohio State came in as a favorite somewhere between 39.5 and 40.5 points. The Buckeyes looked to be on the road to covering the spread, taking a 49-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.

There was one scene at The Bing where Tony looks like he is going to win a bet in a game between Buffalo and Tampa Bay, but a bad beat results in him losing, and he goes into a back office and destroys it. I can just imagine Ohio State fans destroying things when the Buckeyes couldn’t muster even a field goal the rest of the way to cover the spread. Even more frustrating had to be Ohio State punting from the Rutgers 37 in the middle of the fourth quarter.

I guess that’s why Tony’s father tried so hard to teach him about the dangers of gambling after young Tony saw his father chop off a finger of Mr. Satriale to settle gambling debts.

Pine Barrens

Right now it feels like Denzel Burke is just like Paulie and Christopher when they get stranded down in the New Jersey Pine Barrens after they went down there to dump the body of a Russian, who we later found out wasn’t dead. Paulie and Christopher trying to survive in the winter in the woods in the middle of nowhere New Jersey was some hilarious shenanigans, but there isn’t anything funny about what Burke is going through right now.

The best way to describe what Burke is going through is a sophomore slump. The cornerback burst onto the scene last year and looked like he had the makings of the next Ohio State cornerback that would be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Unfortunately, it looks like Burke is the next Sevyn Banks — a talented Ohio State corner that is failing to reach his full potential.

All is not lost for Burke though, since we have seen just how good he can be. There’s no reason he can’t get back to that point. Burke needs to just make a play. Then make another play. And another after that. Just getting some confidence into him right now is the most important thing. Ohio State is a little thin at cornerback, so they can’t afford for him to not be on the field. Hopefully Burke can find some positives in his play next week against Michigan State, and build off that through the bye week.

Curb stomp

In season six, Tony is forced to defend his daughter when Coco Cogliano is disrespectful to Meadow when she is out having dinner in Little Italy. To send a message, Tony bursts into a restaurant where he knows Coco will be at an pistol-whips Coco before curb stomping him. The scene is one of the most brutal in the series, complete with Coco’s teeth being scattered on the floor.

Rutgers hasn’t done anything quite as severe as Coco did to anger Ohio State, yet the Scarlet Knights have gotten curb stomped by Ohio State for nine straight years since joining the Big Ten. In each of the nine games, the Buckeyes have scored at least 49 points. Even the closest game in the series wasn’t all that close, as Ohio State beat Rutgers 49-27 in 2020.

At least if they are going to get beat up on year after year, it’s a good thing Rutgers will be getting $100 million dollars from the Big Ten media contracts. The difference between the Buckeyes and Scarlet Knights is vast, and doesn’t look like the gap is going to narrow any time soon. But at least the Big Ten has that New York City market, right?