A grade card on Ohio State’s 56-21 win over Rutgers, a game that probably wasn’t as close as the score might make it look.
When Ohio State scored two touchdowns in its first seven plays with the help of two Rutgers turnovers, it seemed to confirm the notion that the Buckeyes could name their score and could probably score 100 points if they played their starters the whole game.
Ohio State had four touchdowns after its first 19 snaps and led 28-7 six seconds into the second quarter. Things slowed down a little after that. But it was 35-7 at halftime and 42-7 when the starters became spectators less than two minutes into the second half.
OSU finished the game with 56 points and 594 yards total offense, led by Justin Fields, who completed 15 of 19 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns. Chris Olave had four catches for 139 yards and J.K. Dobbins rushed for 89 yards on 17 carries, all in the first half. It might not have been the Buckeyes’ sharpest performance of the season. But just because they didn’t match the Las Vegas line of winning by 50 points or more doesn’t mean they dramatically underperformed.
Wide receiver Jaelen Gill, who arrived as a 4-star prospect last year but has not played much, caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Chris Chugunov in the fourth quarter. Chugunov was only 5 of 14 passing but did throw for two touchdowns. Steele Chambers was the No. 2 rusher behind Dobbins with 56 yards.
If that grade seems high for allowing Rutgers to score three touchdowns in one game after scoring three touchdowns combined in its previous six Big Ten games, it is the grade for the starters only.
Other than a touchdown set up by a special teams blunder, Ohio State’s first-team defense did not give up a score. That touchdown was the first touchdown scored against Ohio State’s defense in the first quarter this season. Rutgers’ other two touchdowns came in the second half after OSU’s starters were out of the game.
Linebacker Malik Harrison continued to play well with two tackles for losses and a pass break-up. Davon Hamilton got his third sack in the last two games. Ohio State had only one sack, but expect that number to go up when Chase Young returns this week.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Ohio State was already ahead 21-0 when freshman Garrett Wilson fumbled on a punt return at Ohio State’s 33-yard line late in the first quarter to set up Rutgers’ first touchdown. In terms of the outcome of the game it was not a factor. But it seemed to fire up a Rutgers offense that had done almost nothing up to that point in the game.
OSU did not attempt a field goal and Drue Chrisman punted only four times.
OSU played well enough but it will need to be better against Penn State this Saturday and Michigan next Saturday.