There are few things more enjoyable than the chance to be inside a college football stadium on Saturday afternoons in the fall.
The pageantry of college football is unmatched in American sports. Up close, it’s awe-inspiring, especially watching it from the sidelines in a way that is only a dream to most folks.
Because I’m really, really fortunate, I get to do that every weekend.
However…when you’re watching it from the sidelines, there are things you’re sure to miss. Angles are cut off, nuance is lost without TV commentary and a narrow view lends to a cursory understanding of the action. That’s why it’s important to get back home and watch it again from the couch. With a beer.
That’s what I’m doing now, taking a few hours to have a Scarlet and Gray replay and seeing things that might’ve been missed at first glance during Ohio State’s 58-0 blowout win against Rutgers on Saturday.
It’s 6 EST on Sunday evening. My recruiting notebook for Sunday night is finished and the first frosty, adult beverage is about to be cracked.
Let’s watch Ohio State and Rutgers!
First and foremost, let me point out to you – the dear reader – that this game fell on my 38th birthday. After staying up until nearly 2:30 a.m. on Friday evening to watch four players committed to Ohio State compete in a high school game and then watching my hometown Toledo Rockets fall, 55-53, at the buzzer to BYU, I entered Saturday a little wiped out.
OK, enough crybabying. Let’s really watch this game.
First Quarter – Rutgers receives the kick
- This is the eighth time Urban Meyer meets a former assistant. He’s 6-1 previously, with a loss to Dan Mullen and Mississippi State.
- Eric Glover-Williams is a freak on kick returns, but he took a bad angle on the first one. Jordan Fuller and Marshon Lattimore clean up, though, another great job by the Buckeyes kick team, which has been bang or bust this year.
- Thinking of that, it’s crazy how many Ohio State stars, important players – like Lattimore – are on kick coverage still.
- 109 straight passing attempts on the road without a touchdown for Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano? LOL
- Good decision by Rutgers to hit the crossing route early. If there’s a weakness in the Ohio State passing defense, it’s in front of Damon Webb and behind the linebackers.
- After successfully driving the ball against the Buckeyes Rutgers does something really stupid like an end-around, double-reverse. Terrible decision by Drew Mehringer and the Scarlet Knights there.
- Lattimore is Ohio State’s best cornerback. Unlike Eli Apple and even Gareon Conley, I think he’s the best at turning to run with a receiver and using his hands without grabbing. He had a nice play to break up Rutgers’ first attempt down the sideline.
- Curtis Samuel can’t touch the ball enough and the Buckeyes are realizing that. He’s the engine that makes the car go, even if J.T. Barrett is the guy with the keys to the car. Also, his head nearly got ripped off on the second play of the game.
- I’d like to see the Buckeyes try and get down the field in the passing game. Go vertical.
- Ok, that kind of backfired, though it really wasn’t “vertical.” I’d rather see someone like Parris Campbell 40, 50 yards down the field than that intermediate 15-yard stuff to James Clark. Tipped ball, interception. Great play by Rutgers.
- Rutgers’ offensive line is actually doing a nice job early. If there’s a personnel group that has questions, it is still the defensive tackles. There’s a lot of talent, but the big, space-eating type just isn’t on the Buckeyes roster.
- I wrote about Ohio State rotating its top three corners earlier this week. When Denzel Ward breaks on a pass to the flat like he did on a third-and-seven, it’s amazing to think he’s not the full-time starter like he’d be anywhere else in the country.
- Dontre Wilson has been so close to breaking one of those punt returns for a while. I just keep wondering when he’s going to do so.
- Buckeyes get the ball in moderately good field position, their own 39-yard line. Spread the field, Weber in motion and then a really unique looking end-around to Dontre Wilson. Haven’t seen that play before.
- Marcus Baugh jumps offsides again. Buckeyes can’t stay out of their own way sometimes when it comes to penalties.
- Running the option to Dontre Wilson is an interesting choice especially since he almost scored. Just not sure Dontre has the ability to beat people to the corner like Samuel does. Where Wilson does really stand out though is reading a defense and finding spots to get open in the passing game.
- Excellent play by J.T. Barrett, avoids pressure, steps up and connects on a long third down. He’s as good as anyone in the country at converting third downs. Buckeyes get on the board first. Billy Price missed his guy it appeared on the touchdown which caused the pressure, but Barrett stepped up and fired a strike.
- Now you know why Urban Meyer dislikes kickers. Missed extra points will haunt you. Maybe not today because, you know – Rutgers – but another game it could.
- I think Dre’Mont Jones can be an Adolphus Washington-type of defensive lineman, but he’s not made his mark on this defense.
- Nice job by Rutgers to run misdirection to get Raekwon McMillan to overrun the ball carrier. Chris Ash knows how to use Ohio State’s aggressiveness against them.
- Sam Hubbard helps Robert Landers get a big second-down sack. I’m not sure fans appreciate how good Hubbard is playing this year because he’s not putting up big sack numbers.
OHIO STATE FOOTBALL
- J.T. Barrett misses on a pretty open Marcus Baugh. Maybe that’s why Baugh has been so jumpy, knowing his number is going to get called a few times today.
- Buckeyes are using play cards to call in signals, that’s interesting. Must be a decision to counter Rutgers familiarity with them.
- The Buckeyes running an option play for Curtis Samuel has to be terrifying for a cornerback.
- I was standing about three feet from Dontre Wilson on the offensive pass interference call against Noah Brown. and I didn’t see a reason to call it the. I don’t see a reason to call it now. Ghost penalty.
- Final play of the quarter is a pass to Noah Brown in the end zone with a defender draped over him. Crowd explodes in boos with the no call. Loudest the stadium got all day.
Second Quarter – Buckeyes ball at Rutgers 21
- Binjimen Victor sighting!! Urban Meyer said on his radio show on Thursday “Damn, I want to play him.” So he did. Pretty telling that, his first play as a Buckeye, Victor is targeted by J.T. Barrett. He’s a potential difference-maker at wide receiver. J.T. has to put that ball up in the air a bit more.
- Durbin connects on a field goal. Buckeyes lead, 9-0.
- Rashod Berry is a terrifying creature on special teams. I think – and I’m just spit-balling here – that he could be America’s best weapon against the people dressed as clowns that are terrorizing neighborhoods around the country lately. Find the clowns, unleash Rashod Berry. Clown dilemma over.
- Malik Hooker may be the best safety I’ve ever seen at Ohio State and I know that’s stupid to say but I think I mean it.
- Ohio State’s super aggressive pass rush again costs them as Laviano runs for 16 yards on a third-and-12. First down Rutgers.
- As pass rushers, Ohio State’s defensive tackles are good. Stopping the run, though, still looks like a potential problem down the road. Not today, though, because again, Rutgers.
- I love the way Ohio State motions its tight ends to serve as another blocker on inside runs. Marcus Baugh is devastating in that role, A.J. Alexander will keep getting better.
- 12-yard run by Mike Weber and it’s through a gigantic hole that Isaiah Prince helped seal off.
- Curtis Samuel may become a trigger word for Rutgers safety Kiy Hester after that move Samuel just put on him. Sheesh.
- Terry McLaurin gets his first touchdown. He’s a kid that has worked so hard and done all the right things since signing in 2014. He was a SPARQ bad ass in high school, so it’s not surprising to see him jump out of the gym to bring in his first career score. Buckeyes, 16-0.
- It looks like any early “juice” Rutgers had has expired. The Scarlet Knights are getting beat at the point of attack on every play Laviano appears to be pressing.
- Raekwon McMillan is the All-American, Jerome Baker is the budding superstar, but, man, Chris Worley has been playing some really good football lately for the Buckeyes.
OHIO STATE FOOTBALL
- Parris Campbell – at one time in his football career – was a running back who really struggled to catch the football. He’s become a pretty darn reliable option for J.T. Barrett.
- J.T. Barrett’s 58th career passing touchdown breaks an Ohio State record. He’s going to obliterate that number and he will never be caught.
- Rutgers appears content to got into the half down 23-0.
- Ohio State isn’t content, apparently. Buckeyes call timeout and want the ball back.
- I have no idea how Eric Glover-Williams didn’t block that punt. I was talking to an Ohio State staffer during the first quarter and he told me “We’re blocking a punt today” and that seemed like it’d be it.
Boy not sure how Eric Glover-Williams missed this punt block. pic.twitter.com/QIf72Fcx9k
— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) October 1, 2016
OHIO STATE FOOTBALL
- Buckeyes get the ball and are driving but then a pretty weird “hands to the face” penalty on Isaiah Prince makes it second-and-25.
- What do you do then? Throw it to Curtis Samuel, of course. Big-time catch as he got hit pretty hard.
- Buckeyes go for it on fourth down, unsurprisingly. Rutgers called a timeout, though, that’s surprising.
- This is the longest final 40 seconds of a half I’ve ever seen.
- J.T. Barrett on a designed run is really dangerous for defenses. He’s got excellent vision as a runner.
- Barrett to Samuel, five yards to score, too easy. Ohio State is getting to be almost New England Patriots-level good at scoring before the half and then getting the ball to start the second. It’s a devastating double whammy. Ohio State leads at the half, 30-0.
Third Quarter – Buckeyes receive the football
- Like Tulsa and Bowling Green, the second half begins with a sense of “how fast can we end this game.”
- Dontre Wilson at tailback. That’s now three different players lined up there for Ohio State in this game.
- There’s Mike Weber not getting caught for the first time this year. Incredibly well-blocked play by Billy Price, Marcus Baugh and others, including James Clark. Zach Smith’s wide receivers don’t always put up big receiving numbers, but they’re always huge in the run game.
- Every time Malik Harrison is on the field, he flashes. He’s going to be an excellent player.
- Three and out for Rutgers. Warm up the bus. 11:21 left in the third quarter and this one deserves a running clock.
OHIO STATE FOOTBALL
- I know it’s still very early in the second half, but if I were Ohio State, I’d be removing J.T. Barrett right now. Take no chances on getting him hurt.
- I really like Dontre Wilson as a receiver. Good hands, quick feet, sudden in his movement. I like him there a lot.
- Austin Mack’s first career catch. Working hard for 10 months has paid off.
- Parris Campbell gets his first career touchdown on a running play, putting Ohio State ahead, 44-0.
- Nick Bosa gets his second sack of the year. Beat his guy badly. Nick’s been able to work into the rotation a little at a time and he’s playing great. Also, kudos to Nick for not worrying about a sack celebration. I know people expect him to do something and he’s just like “Nah.”
OHIO STATE FOOTBALL
- Barrett still on the field but the TV announcer said this would be his last possession. See? That’s something I didn’t know on the field.
- Hey, Noah Brown still exists. His first catch of the day is with the Buckeyes ahead, 44-0. Ohio State is deep.
- Joe Burrow enters for J.T. Barrett. Demario McCall into the game, too. Fourth player to line up at tailback. McCall is explosive as heck. 20 yards real quick for a score. 51-0 Buckeyes.
- I think Rutgers had the ball for three plays. I blinked once and Ohio Statehas possession.
OHIO STATE FOOTBALL
- I agree with Matt Millen that Luke Fickell will take a head coaching opportunity somewhere down the road, and probably soon.
- Ohio State coaches rave about Joe Burrow and his toughness and it’s awesome to see him getting a chance to run this offense. Obviously the Buckeyes are dialing it in a bit and not running the offense to score a lot, but Burrow is calm and has things under control.
Fourth Quarter – Buckeyes ball at Rutgers 43
- Demario McCall runs like a created player on a video game. 99 agility, 99 acceleration. He just went 39 yards in a blur.
- Another back corner lob for Binjimen Victor, another one that is a little underthrown. Ben needs to make more room on that route.
- Johnnie Dixon on a running play. Ohio State has so many weapons at wide receiver that are capable of carrying the ball from the backfield. Even their real wideouts like Dixon are dangerous in that way.
- This TV timeout is taking for. ev. er. But I’m not fast-forwarding the DVR because I want to make sure you know I’m watching this like you would’ve on Saturday. I’m a team player.
- Johnnie Dixon’s first career touchdown. The junior wideout has been through a lot in his career at Ohio State with knee issues and, honestly, I think he’s one of the guys on the Ohio State roster who is worth rooting for.
- I don’t remember the last time Rutgers completed a pass. I’m becoming delusional.
- Nick Bosa with a really nice play stretching the field and forcing Tylin Oden to the sideline. Rodjay Burns out there cleaning it up, too.
OHIO STATE FOOTBALL
- Ohio State uses its fifth running back of the day: as Antonio Williams, a freshman from North Carolina, takes his first snap of the season. Both McCall and Williams get a college carry before Kareem Walker at Michigan.
- Five new players are on the offensive line. Branden Bowen, Kyle Trout, Brady Taylor, Matt Burrell, Jr. and Evan Lisle. Good job by the Buckeyes getting their guys some reps.
- Binjimen Victor’s first career catch is a doozy, leaping along the sideline. Eventually, he and Austin Mack are going to be a really tough duo.
Ok, that’s that. I can’t watch anymore. 58-0 Buckeyes. Rutgers was completely, and utterly, outmatched.
Hard to find much bad with this game, but at the same time, it’s hard to glean too much from the good, you know? I mean, it’s Rutgers and they’re bad. (They’ll get better, I promise. Chris Ash is a great coach and he has a really good coaching staff.)
- Two quarterbacks. Five running backs. 12 different players catching a pass. 10 different offensive lineman. The Buckeyes’ depth is crazy, and it’s great to get these guys some runs.
- Zero punts. Cam Johnston could’ve stayed home. That’s serious offensive efficiency.
- A shutout. If Rutgers had found a way to manage a field goal or whatever, it feels less dominant, doesn’t it?
- 58 points is the largest margin of victory in a conference game for the Buckeyes since 1981.
- J.T. Barrett’s two-minute drill at the end of the first half. “Damn near perfection,” said Urban Meyer.
- Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon all scored their first career touchdowns.
- Since Ed Warinner/Tim Beck have been in the press box together (Michigan last November), Ohio State has scored 42, 42, 77, 48, 45 and 58 points.
- The offensive line, in pass protection, still concerns me. There’s not much time to establish down the field passing.
- Penalties, especially motion penalties, which continue to hurt the Buckeyes in the red zone and when they have tempo working on offense.
- The defensive tackles, especially Dre’Mont Jones and Michael Hill, aren’t dominating when it comes to stopping the run and that’s a worry with good running teams coming up.
- Playing Rutgers doesn’t really tell you as much about your team as you’d like it to.
THE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
- J.T. Barrett. What a start to his career, and he’s got a lot of football left, potentially.
- Curtis Samuel, who should be talked about as a potential Heisman candidate.
- Mike Weber, who is quietly playing better than anyone ever expected.
- The defense. All of them.