No. 2 Ohio State kicked off conference play by dismantling Rutgers in true blowout fashion. From producing nearly six times as many offensive yards as the Scarlet Knights, to grinding out 410 yards on the ground, OSU proved just how tough it is.
With momentum for the remaining eight Big Ten games, the Buckeyes are rolling. Here are five takeaways from their emphatic victory over Rutgers.
Barrett one of the best in OSU’s history
It doesn’t take a master’s degree in statistics to understand just how successful redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett has been in his career. Tossing 59 touchdowns through less than three years of action with the Buckeyes sums up his time with OSU quite nicely.
Barrett’s performance against Rutgers moved him into 10th place all time for career passing yards. Although he usually doesn’t light up the scoreboard with passing yards, he has accomplished these totals while starting in just 21 games.
This year, players from both sides of the ball have talked about Barrett’s ability to lead the team and be the go-to player a quarterback needs to be. Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Terry McLaurin summed things up almost perfectly.
“When J.T. talks, everybody listens,” McLaurin said.
With at least eight games left in the season, Barrett is certain to keep smashing records and earning victories as the unquestioned leader of the team.
Robert Landers is making a name for himself
Backup defensive linemen rarely make a name for themselves as athletic and agile playmakers. Redshirt freshman Robert Landers just might be breaking that mold.
Picking up six tackles through the first three game, Landers broke into the backfield twice against Rutgers, picking up a tackle for loss and a sack. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 285 pounds, he is slightly undersized for his position.
Undersized, but incredibly strong and quick in his movements. Junior defensive end Jalyn Holmes even has his own special nickname for Landers because of those traits.
“He just get off (blocks) so fast, man,” Holmes said. “I call him Black Mamba.”
The loss of redshirt junior defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle hurt the Buckeyes, but Landers has played well enough to prevent any drop off.
The Big Ten is a tale of two ends of the spectrum again
Expanding the Big Ten has led to a longer conference schedule and exciting action for college football fans. Unfortunately, that expansion has also led to a wide gap between teams.
While Maryland is recovering from last season’s 3-9 overall and 1-7 conference performance by winning its first three games, Rutgers has remained near the bottom so far this year, losing its opening Big Ten test against the Buckeyes.
In the top half of the conference, teams like OSU, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska have shown the pedigree of each program. In the other half, teams like Rutgers, Illinois, Penn State and Purdue are sputtering to stay afloat early in the year.
While all teams have respective glory days in the respective histories of each program, the Big Ten has its own history of the conference race having a few elite teams near the top, and the others fighting for national relevance.
Once again, college football fans are getting a taste of what happens with Big Ten football. The rich get richer each year.
Wide receiver depth is deeper than initially thought
The OSU coaching staff knew near the end of spring camp they had a multitude of wide receivers that can contribute. Buckeyes fans got a taste of how many of those players can contribute.
Eight receivers caught passes against Rutgers, including the first career receptions for redshirt freshman Alex Stump, freshman Austin Mack and freshman Binjimen Victor. Seeing extended time compared to the others, even receiving a target from Barrett in the end zone, Victor saw the field on multiple occasions.
Sure, the pass was incomplete. But OSU offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said Victor earned his playing time this week.
“Ben got more and more reps in the two weeks leading up to this game, and each rep, each day he kept getting better and better,” Warriner said.
Although the wide receivers failed to haul in a touchdown, and redshirt sophomore Noah Brown was only targeted twice, OSU showed they can spread the wealth to names deeper on the depth chart. Even if the completions are only for 7 yards a piece.
OSU’s offense turns Ash’s defense to dust
All week long, sports reporters from across the state and the nation asked Meyer and OSU players how they would approach a defensive attack they were familiar with in Chris Ash’s scheme. Buckeyes fans got their answer quickly Saturday.
A defense that allowed just three completions and 116 yards paired with an offense that rushed for over 400 yards and threw for four touchdowns is nearly unbeatable.
Rutgers had a decent first quarter in terms of stifling OSU, and even picked off Barrett once. Completely outmatched throughout the game, it should be no surprise that the score ended up 58-0.
Ash’s defense may have brought success to OSU when he arrived in Columbus, but the same production has not been found in New Jersey for the former Buckeyes offensive coordinator.