Buckeyes Rack Up Third-Straight Wipeout Win

By Jeff Rapp, October 1st, 2017

You could hear the bristle in Urban Meyer’s voice.

A reporter asked him what his team could possibly get out of a 56-0 win at Rutgers on Saturday night, which has been the postgame refrain in recent weeks.

After all, following the home loss to Oklahoma and a drop in the polls, the Buckeyes (4-1, 2-0 in the Big Ten) shut down Army, plastered a hapless UNLV squad and then took back to the road and destroyed the offensively challenged Scarlet Knights (1-4, 0-2), which is yet to win a conference game in two years under coach Chris Ash.

Meyer, though, turned a little salty, reminding that the blowouts have given his team the confidence, reps and depth building that will be needed as the No. 11 Buckeyes march on into an October schedule that will begin with a visit from Maryland and end with the powerful Penn State Nittany Lions coming to town.

The trip to Piscataway, N.J., was far from daunting. OSU racked up 628 total yards to Rutgers’ 208 and averaged 9.2 yards per play to RU’s woeful 3.1. And that was with the Buckeyes substituting liberally and sharing the wealth to second- and third-team players.

At running back, for example, starter J.K. Dobbins inserted himself into the equation with a 34-yard scamper in the first quarter, giving him a team-best eight rushes of 20 or more yards this season. Meanwhile, Mike Weber, last year’s leading rusher, led the parade into the end zone with three short scoring runs including the first two of the game.

And as the carnage continued, speedster Demario McCall got his most meaningful time of the season and ended up leading all rushers with 103 yards on just 11 carries and putting the exclamation point on the victory. He took swing pass from backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. and turned it into a 35-yard touchdown early in the fourth period. He also closed out the scoring with a 48-yard blast through a tired RU defense.

McCall has been dealing with a sports hernia, leaving Buckeye fans to wonder if he would emerge in Kevin Wilson’s offense this season. Apparently, that time has come.

Meanwhile, quarterback J.T. Barrett continued to re-assert himself and set school records. Barrett threw just 22 passes but completed 14 for 275 yards and three TDs. He also moved into the top spot on OSU’s all-time list for passing yards, hopping Art Schlichter.

Ten different Ohio State receivers accounted for the team’s 19 receptions. Most noteworthy was Johnnie Dixon’s evening – three catches for 115 yards and two scores. Dixon’s 39-yard TD late in the second quarter was a moment of beauty as he caught the ball in stride, bounced outside and tight-roped the sideline before diving into the end zone.

Defensively, the Buckeyes had just one sack but nine tackle-for-loss and recorded a pair of interceptions – one by outside linebacker Dante Booker and the other by safety Damon Webb. With fellow safety Erick Smith not making the trip for undisclosed reasons, defensive back Jordan Fuller picked up the slack with a team-high eight tackles.

Here are some other developments of note:

· The three touchdown rushes by Weber were his first of the season and a career high (he previously rushed for two against Rutgers last season).

· Ohio State improved to 21-1 in Big Ten road games under Meyer and 25-1 in true road as Ohio State’s head coach.

· The Buckeyes posted back-to-back shutouts against the same opponent for the first time since 1979-80 (vs. Wisconsin). OSU defeated Rutgers 58-0 at home last season.

· With his 37-yard first-quarter rush, senior Barrett eclipsed 10,000 career total yards. He also moved into 10th place on the Big Ten career list for total yards, passing Iowa’s Chuck Long. His stat line (364 total yards) gives him 10,350 in 41-game career.

· The Buckeyes amassed 600 or more yards of total offense in back to back games for the first time since 2013 (vs. California and Florida A&M).

· Barrett is now 30-5 as a starter, making him just the fourth 30-game winner in school history (joining Schlichter, Cornelius Green and Bobby Hoying).

· A 13-yard second-quarter completion to Terry McLaurin gave Barrett the school record for career passing yards. He’s at 7,563 yards and counting.

· Booker’s first-quarter interception was the first of his career.

· Ohio State’s defense held Rutgers scoreless over the first 15 minutes of the game and has allowed just seven first-quarter points all season.

· The Barrett-to-Dixon 70-yard touchdown in the second quarter was Ohio State’s Big Ten-leading sixth play of 50 yards or more this season.

Next up: The Buckeyes host Maryland (3-1, 1-0) on Saturday (4 p.m. Eastern, FOX). The Terrapins are coming off a 31-24 upset win at Minnesota.