Game 3 Recap: Ohio State 49 – Rutgers 27
Give credit where credit is due to Greg Schiano, who was prepared for this game with several trick plays to try and equalize the talent differential on the field. Without those trick plays, which to their credit were successful on most attempts, this game could have turned into the blowout most expected it to be going into this game.
Ohio State did what it needed to do in the first half, and limited the Scarlet Knights offensively, but the second half was a complete change of tone, as Rutgers tried to rally a comeback, and kept fighting to the last play of the game. This is the Schiano effect of taking over, and hopefully he brings Rutgers back to relevance and competing, but this was not the showing the Buckeyes need to show in a night that Clemson and Notre Dame were playing as well. This should have been a game that could have been tuned out in the second half and the Buckeyes would have played their backups, but that was not the case, and this game should give the coaching staff enough to review to work on for the last 5 games of the regular season.
Rutgers started with the ball, and on the opening kickoff tried a few laterals, which set the tone of how they were going to approach this game. The Silver Bullets held them to ten yards, and forced them to punt. The Buckeye offense got the ball on the 11 yard line, and drive the 89 yards as Justin Fields connected on a 38 yard pass to Jameson Williams.
Rutgers got the ball back, and aided with some penalties, was able to get near the redzone, but the Buckeyes held firm, and forced the Scarlet Knights to a field goal. The two teams would then exchange punts, but then on Ohio States next possession, Justin Fields found Garrett Wilson for a 34 yard touchdown pass, making the lead 14-3. The Buckeye defense stepped up the rest of the half, and the Buckeye offense was able to score 3 more times, taking a 35-3 lead into half time.
Ohio State got the ball back to start the half, but were not able to much with their possession, or even the next one. The Scarlet Knights came out energized, and prepared to shock the world. They scored on their second possession, and failed a 2 point conversion, making it 35-9 in favor of the Buckeyes. The teams then exchanged touchdowns on each of their next two possessions, inlcuding a Rutgers punt retuen for a touchdown, but failed both of their 2 point conversion attempts, giving the Buckeyes a 49-21 lead.
Rutgers scored once more and failed their 4th 2 point conversion The Buckeyes slowed down the game, and were able to get out of the stadium with a 49-27 win.
Justin Fields was near perfect again, passing 24-28 for 314 yards, and 5 touchdowns, as well as adding 7 yards rushing and touchdown on the ground. For the second game in a row, he was not needed to run the ball to stretch the defense, but he was sacked 2 times.
Trey Sermon and Master Teague were back to splitting carries this game, both having 12 carries for the game. Sermon led all rushers with 68 yards, most of that coming from a 36 yard run. Teague tallied 60 yards on the ground, and added a touchdown as well. Steele Chambers and Demario McCall got involved as well in the run game, but Steele Chambers had 2 fumbles in the game.
The strength of this offense was highlighted once more with the receivers. Garrett Wilson led all receivers with 6 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown, marking his 3rd 100 yard game in a row. Chris Olave had 5 catches for 64 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jeremy Ruckert was involved again in the passing game with 4 catches for 29 yards and a touchdown.
The defense only got to the quarterback for a sack 1 time this game, but they did force a fumble from Justin Hilliard, who played his first game this season. The defense will have plenty to work on as they gave up 370 yards, 229 yards passing and 141 yards rushing.
This game was only closer than comfort because Rutgers three everything including the kitchen sink against the Buckeyes, and returned a punt for a touchdown using a lateral across the field to cut the Buckeye lead 42-21. Ohio State got the back back and it took only 4 plays to respond as Justin Fields found Chris Olave for a 33 yard touchdown pass to re-extend the lead 49-21 in the fourth quarter. That was too much of a deficit for Rutgers to come back, and the Buckeyes only gave up one more touchdown to keep the lead and get out of the game 3-0.
Star of the Game
Justin Fields. Stop me if you heard this before, but Justin Fields proved once again this game why he is a Heisman front runner, and the reason why this game was never really close, even with Rutgers trying to rally in the second half. His 11 total passing touchdowns and 11 total incompletions so far this season are video game like, and inching his way close to being one of the best quarterbacks in Ohio State history.
Win and in seems to be the mantra for most years, and to a degree this year will be the same, but there might be a lot of undefeated teams trying to get into the top 4 spots. Ohio State will need to clean some things up on offense and defense to get past the top teams in the country that it has a good chance of playing. Notre Dame beating Clemson this weekend shook some things up, and there might be a reason why Ohio State stayed in 3rd place in the AP and Coaches poll based on how they played in the second half. They might be truly tested for the conference these next 2 weeks against Maryland and Indiana, who seem to be the biggest competition for the Buckeyes as they try to make it 4 straight trips to Indianapolis.
Ohio State (3-0) travels to face Maryland (2-1) at 3:30pm on BTN.
Rutgers (1-2) hosts Illinois (0-3) at noon on BTN.
Photo credit: SI.com