The Ohio State football team continued its run of dominant play, routing overmatched Rutgers 56-17 in front of 106,795 at Ohio Stadium. Redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett again played a starring role, throwing for 261 yards on 19-of-31 passing with three touchdowns and adding 107 on the ground with two more scores.
The Buckeyes continued the momentum they took into their second open week of the season. Ohio State reached the 50-point mark for the fourth consecutive game, setting a school record, also tying a program mark by recording its fourth straight game of at least 500 yards of total offense. Sophomore Ezekiel Elliott led the tailbacks with 69 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown. He also added four receptions for 28 yards. Barrett’s top target was again sophomore Michael Thomas, who caught four passes for 55 yards.
Ohio State found success offensively throughout the afternoon, posting eight touchdown drives. The Buckeyes punted only once and scored TDs on eight of its first 10 drives. They finished with 585 yards of total offense and were balanced with 324 rushing yards and 261 through the air.
New Jersey native Eli Apple aided the OSU defense by scoring on a 4-yard fumble recovery in the first half. Senior cornerback Doran Grant added an interception. The Buckeyes also recorded four sacks, including two by sophomore defensive end Joey Bosa.
Rutgers was led by running back Desmon Peoples, who scored both of his team’s touchdowns and finished with 83 yards on 15 carries. Veteran quarterback Gary Nova completed 17 of 28 passes for 192 yards with an interception. The Scarlet Knights, who came into the game with a Big Ten-best 24 sacks, recorded none against the Buckeyes.
It did not take Ohio State long to take command. After holding Rutgers to a three-and-out to start the game, the Buckeyes took over with good field position at the OSU 48-yard line. It took Barrett and company just six plays to march 52 yards for the game’s first points. Barrett had the biggest play of the drive on a fourth-down run of 19 yards that advanced the ball to the Rutgers 24. Facing a fourth-and-1, Barrett took the snap and rushed left, getting good blocks from tailback Elliott and Darryl Baldwin to keep the drive alive.
Two plays later, the Buckeyes were in the end zone. With Rutgers not set yet defensively, Barrett found an open Nick Vannett in the middle of the field. The tight end caught the ball at the RU 3 and turned upfield for the game’s first TD. Sean Nuernberger booted the extra point to make it 7-0 Ohio State at the 11:34 mark of the first quarter.
The Buckeyes added to their lead on their second drive of the afternoon. The running game starred during the march, Elliott rushed four times for 25 yards – including a 1-yard burst for a touchdown that came against a Rutgers defense that was again not set. Barrett completed a 31-yard pass to Jalin Marshall during the drive and rushed for 20 yards on two carries.
The Scarlet Knights answered with a touchdown drive that lasted 10 plays and traveled 66 yards. Desmon Peoples carried the ball on seven of the 10 plays, gaining 34 of those yards. His last came on a 1-yard TD run that, following a Kyle Federico PAT, halved RU’s deficit to 14-7 with 0:27 left in the opening quarter.
While the Rutgers offense took time to get some momentum, the Buckeyes continued their offensive assault after the Peoples TD. Barrett capped a 6-play, 67-yard drive that took 2:14 by finding Vannett open down the seam for a 26-yard touchdown with 13:03 left before halftime. Barrett completed all three of his pass attempts for 53 yards on the drive.
After the extra-point boot, Ohio State held a 21-7 advantage. Through OSU’s first three drives, Barrett was 8 for 8 with 112 yards and two touchdowns. He added 38 rushing yards as well.
Ohio State’s defense scored the next points. On the first play following Cameron Johnston’s first punt of the afternoon for the Buckeyes, Nova completed a pass to Janarion Grant. Grant was quickly hit by linebacker Darron Lee, and defensive lineman Rashad Frazier followed him- jarring the ball from Grant. Apple scooped up the fumble and returned the ball four yards for a touchdown.
Nuernberger’s PAT made it 28-7 with 9:50 remaining in the second quarter.
Ohio State put the game even further on its next possession. Following a short put, the Buckeyes drove 51 yards in eight plays. Fifth-year senior Rod Smith capped the drive with a 3-yard TD run up the middle. Barrett again played a big part in the in the march, completing a 16-yard pass to senior tight end Jeff Heuerman on a third-and-7 at the RU 35 and a 14-yard gain to Michael Thomas that set up Smith’s TD run.
With 4:32 left before halftime, Ohio State held a 35-7 lead. That score held thanks to a defensive stand in the half’s final moments. Nova drove the Scarlet Knights all the way to the OSU 6 before throwing an interception to Ohio State senior cornerback Doran Grant with 12 seconds remaining.
The beat went on after the break. Ohio State began the second half on offense and needed just four plays to add another touchdown. After Elliott started things off with a 10-yard rush over left end, Barrett took care of the rest. He completed a pair of 18-yard passes to Thomas before rushing for a 33-yard touchdown on a scramble up the middle of the field and through the porous Rutgers defense.
Nuernberger’s PAT made it 42-7 with 13:17 on the third-quarter clock.
Barrett called his own number again on Ohio State’s next drive – and next trip to the end zone. He concluded a 10-play, 55-yard drive by rushing for a 5-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-goal play. The extra-point extended the OSU lead to 49-7 and sent even more of the to the exits with 8:24 left in the third quarter.
The Scarlet Knights finally got back on the scoreboard on their ensuing drive. Federico made a 42-yard field goal with 6:36 remaining in the quarter to end a six-play, 51-yard drive. Back-to-back rushes of 19 and 28 yards, respectively, by Justin Goodwin and Peoples set up the kick.
Barrett’s final touchdown drive included the highlight of the game. He threw a 42-yard pass to Devin Smith to move the Buckeyes into the red zone at the RU 11, and after tossing an incompletion, Barrett tossed a pass toward senior Evan Spencer. The pass was slightly over thrown, but the wide receiver was able to get a hand on it and bring it in for a one-handed grab and a touchdown that made it 56-10 after the PAT with 4:14 remaining in the quarter.
Rutgers set the final score with a 12-yard touchdown run by Peoples on the first play of the fourth quarter. Federico made the PAT at the end of the eight-play, 80 yard drive that ended with 14:54 left in regulation.