(photo courtesy of WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio)
The Nation’s fourth-ranked team, The Ohio State University completely demolished the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. It would be the final tune-up prior to the season’s first challenge in a prime-time collision vs. the 16th ranked TCU next week in Arlington, Texas.
The Buckeyes showed us all their cache of riches at quarterback Saturday in a 52-3 trouncing of the completely outmanned Scarlet Knights, after smacking around Oregon State in the previous week with 77 points as evidence.
Dwayne Haskins Jr. threw four touchdown passes to help the Buckeyes win for the 900th time in program history. They became the second program to reach that benchmark behind Michigan (944).
“It’s a whole lot of fun,” said Haskins, who finished 20 of 23 for 233 yards before taking a seat early in the third quarter after the game was secured. “I want to run so many series, so many plays, that we ran out of time, and (were) up by so many points (that) we can’t do what we want.”
Johnnie Dixon grabbed two of Haskins’ scoring strikes; backup quarterback Tate Martell added another touchdown pass and a zigzagging 47-yard scoring run on a drab afternoon. The Buckeyes, playing in their second game without suspended Head Coach Urban Meyer, piled up 579 offensive yards after amassing 721 in the opener. Meyer was back conducting practices this week but will miss one more game — next Saturday’s contest with TCU — to finish out his three-game suspension for mismanaging fired assistant coach Zach Smith, who was accused of domestic abuse and other misbehavior. Co-offensive-coordinator Ryan Day ran the show again Saturday and had few reasons to worry, save for the 11 penalties that cost Ohio State 131 yards. “I thought we did a nice job of throwing the ball early and then kind of running it late,” Day said.
Ohio State’s defense, which last week gave up several big plays for touchdowns, tightened up against the Scarlet Knights, who managed just 134 total yards.
A FINAL DEDUCTION
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights still need plenty of work before they’ll be able to compete with the Big Ten elite. They’ve lost the last three games to Ohio State by a combined score of 166-3.
“When you play teams like this, especially on the road, your margin for error is very, very small,” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said. “We made a lot of mistakes and they took advantage of them, capitalized on them and we just can’t do that against good teams.”
Ohio State: The Buckeyes showed they can score points almost at will against less-talented teams. Next week will indeed measure ‘the reality-stick’ in a more crisp understanding.
“I’m very excited, (the) team’s very excited,” Haskins said. “We’re going to use this week as a great preparation for TCU on Saturday, and we’re ready for them.”
SIGNAL-CALLERS LOOKING GOOD
Through two games as a starter, Haskins is 42 of 53 for 546 yards with nine touchdowns and just one interception.
Martell played much of the second half in a ‘let’s see what we have’ here moment – looking absolutely marvelous in going a perfect 10 for 10 for 121 yards. He threw his first career touchdown pass, a 51-yarder to Terry McLaurin on third-and-16 in the second quarter.
Martell also was Ohio State’s leading ground-gainer, rushing for 95 yards and a touchdown. J.K. Dobbins, alternating series with Mike Weber, ran 12 times for 73 yards and a touchdown.
Rutgers true freshman quarterback Arthur Sitkowski was 6 for 18 for 38 yards with an interception before going out with an injury, possibly to his throwing arm.
Sitkowski apparently was hurt on the last play of the first half when he was sacked by Ohio State’s Nick Bosa. He was replaced by Giovanni Rescigno.
“He says he’s fine,” Ash said. “We’ve got to get back home and evaluate him tomorrow.”
TROUBLE TO BE ADDRESSED
Ohio State defensive end Chase Young was ejected in the third quarter after getting his second personal foul penalty of the afternoon.
Day said the infractions “will be addressed.”
Let’s take a good-hard-look at the team as a whole:
For the first two games, the Buckeyes have been playing at a consistently faster clip than we’ve seen during the Urban Meyer era and the O line is holding up its end. So far, Michael Jordan’s transition from guard to center has been seamless. Protection was solid again and some of the holes were so huge, tailbacks Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins could have linked arms and gotten through. Jordan’s replacement at left guard, Malcolm Pridgeon, was called up front in the post-game locker room last week for his fine play. Probably not this week. He was called for holding on back-to-back series Saturday —one wiping out a 43-yard catch-and-run by Dobbins —and right tackle Isaiah Prince got away with another hold on Tate Martell’s 51-yard TD pass to Terry McLaurin.
Mike Weber got the start, but just to show you shouldn’t read too much into it, it was J.K. Dobbins and not Weber who was the featured back this week. The duo didn’t come close to matching their combined 260 yards rushing in the opener, but despite rain-soaked conditions, this game was more about featuring the passing attack against an undermanned secondary. Collectively, Dobbins and Weber produced 101 yards and a TD on 20 carries. Not awful. The longest run of the day was Tate Martell’s 47-yard scramble for a TD late in the game.
It figured to be another banner day for Dwayne Haskins (20 of 23, 233 yards, 4 TDs) even before it was announced that Rutgers was banged up and shorthanded in the secondary. Fans who wanted more deep balls in last week’s opener got their wish Saturday as Johnnie Dixon caught long balls of 38 and 44 yards for TDs and Tate Martell hit Terry McLaurin on a 51-yard bomb. Martell completed all 10 of his passes, making the Buckeyes 30 of 33 for 354 yards and, for the second straight week, 5 TDs
Nick Bosa extended his streak of consecutive games with a sack to five and also finished with two other tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry as the front four gave true freshman Artur Sitkowski a “warm” welcome to the Big Ten. Sitkowski was 6 of 18 for 38 yards and a pick before getting hurt at the end of the first half. As a reminder that not all of the O line attention can be focused on Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones, bookend Chase Young had a pair of sacks. But Young also got ejected for two personal fouls, one for spiking the ball and the other for coming out on the field to celebrate a takeaway by the backups.
It’s hard to tell if the back seven cleaned up their first game problem with tackling in space because the Scarlet Knights couldn’t find any space. It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that Rutgers finally had 100 yards of total offense. The Scarlet Knights finished with 69 yards rushing and 134 yards overall.
The Buckeyes had safety Jordan Fuller back after he was a late scratch last week due to a hamstring injury. He provided stability and cornerback Kendall Sheffield provided OSU’s first interception of the year as the Scarlet Knights failed to generate anything downfield. Their longest pass completion was 13 yards. Shaun Wade added another pick in mop-up duty.
He’s got dazzling speed and moves so it would be great if OSU could trust Demario McCall as a return man. But can they? He had trouble fielding two punts and was replaced by former walk-on C.J. Saunder, who ripped off a 20-yard return. McCall would redeem himself somewhat with a 31-yard kickoff return. It didn’t end well with McCall getting tackled by the punter. It was another easy day for Drue Chrisman. His three punts traveled 46, 47 and 50 yards and one was downed inside the 20.
Grade: B minus
It was easy to forget that head coach Urban Meyer was serving the second game of his three-game suspension. This was more about the chess match between OSU defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and Rutgers offensive coordinator John McNulty. Schiano hired McNulty twice when he was the head coach at Rutgers and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He would never hire him again based on the way Schiano’s defense undressed McNulty’s offense Saturday. The opening up of the offensive talents on the Buckeye’s roster too is nice to see. In these two past games, the Buckeyes undoubtedly would have won with Urban on the sidelines. But would they have scored 129 points in those two games? We will never know, it’s all speculation fueled in the “what-if” theories. But, my suspicions, lead me to wonder if Urban would have opened up that offense in the manner that Day did.
Grade: A plus
Buckeye Football is back …. And its fun …. The only hitch is Urban’s noticeable absence. There are a lot of opinions on the topic; I’ll refrain from my opinion on the matter, primarily because I am not so certain that I have finalized what I think. But, all the same, in his absence, Ryan Day and The Ohio State University Buckeyes Coaching staff has done commendable, and should indeed be proud of themselves. The Program lives on, no matter what.