PISCATAWAY, New Jersey (WCMH) — No. 11 Ohio State put together its best all-around performance Saturday stomping Rutgers 52-13. C.J. Stroud came back from injury by torching the Scarlet Knights to the tune of 330 yards and five touchdowns, the defense rounded a corner and Chris Olave showed why he’s the top receiver in the country.
Here’s more on those three takeaways from OSU’s road win.
Stroud’s best all-around game
Prior to Saturday’s game, C.J. Stroud had yet to perform well in the first quarter. But against Rutgers, the redshirt freshman had eight completions for 120 yards and one touchdown. That propelled him to a 330-yard, five touchdown game despite only playing two and half quarters.
Stroud showed poise in the face of doubters calling for coach Ryan Day to look elsewhere for a starting quarterback. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was Stroud’s utilization in the run and bootleg, which will do wonders to keep opposing defenses honest from honing in too much on the run game.
Stroud fed his top targets in Olave and Garrett Wilson who combined for nearly 200 yards but also got tight end Jeremy Ruckert involved with four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown. This type of game should help Stroud gain more confidence as the Buckeyes head into the heart of Big Ten play.
Defense showed up and showed out
The Buckeyes played well on defense last week but everybody knew a good game against Akron didn’t mean much. Ohio State got better on that side of the ball this week, particularly in forcing turnovers. The Buckeyes had three interceptions, including a pick six for true freshman Denzel Burke in the first quarter to put the Buckeyes up 14-0 in the first quarter.
Rutgers QB Noah Vedral entered the day with zero picks and ranked 26th in the country in completion percentage. Ohio State’s one sack and one quarterback pressure is a bit misleading because the Scarlet Knights shifted to getting the ball out quick in order to avoid pressure. That clearly did not work and was reflected in Rutgers averaging less than six yards per pass.
When the Scarlet Knights tried to go down field, OSU wasn’t giving up much of anything outside of a 75-yard touchdown to Aron Cruickshank. No other pass went for longer than 12 yards and that’s a huge leap forward for a Buckeyes defense that was consistently getting gashed in the middle of the field. Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is coming off a disastrous performance against Iowa and Ohio State can take advantage of weaknesses he showed when the Buckeyes the Terps at noon next week.
Chris Olave: #1 WR in the country
After a couple games of not getting many looks, Chris Olave remined the college football world why he’s the top receiver in the country. Olave posted five catches for a game-high 119 yards and two touchdowns, including a 56-yard score as he weaved through traffic seamlessly on a broken play in which he found a way to make himself open to a scrambling Stroud.
Olave’s second touchdown to start the third quarter gave him 27 for his career, tying Cris Carter for third all-time in school history. His best catch wasn’t a touchdown but it was a masterpiece in getting his toes down to give Ohio State a first down and keep the Rutgers defense uncomfortable in the early going.