PISCATAWAY, NJ – The tunes are over, and the state of Ohio was visibly relieved that the last has been cleared out of the way to remain unbeaten and live up to the program's high standards. But when the group returned to the locker room at the SHI Stadium on Saturday night, there were more than a few scarlet and gray people confirming that the main mission had been completed.
Yes, that could have been the sloppiest trip of the season for No. 2 Ohio State. But the Buckeyes made another slip-up, passing Rutgers with a 56:21 victory – and then got home a plane that had no major new injuries. With the final expansion of competition levels starting next week, that was really all that mattered.
"I mean, it was one of those games," said Ryan Day, Ohio coach. "I thought our boys played well in the first half, then we decided not to go against J.K. [Dobbins] in the second half. Came out in the third quarter and immediately went down the field, then they decided for our [backups]. There was some sloppiness after that, but overall I thought the guys were playing really well.
"The minute the game goes to zero, the focus is on Penn State and getting ready for the next run. We have to do everything we can to prepare for this game and it starts immediately.
Attention may have shifted to the title game of the Big Ten East Division for the Buckeyes. But before Lettermen Row dives into this match, he looks back on what we've learned on Saturday in Ruthless Ohio State No. 1
Ohio State's ramping up pass attack
Success against Rutgers is not really the barometer for Ohio State. Another question for the Buckeyes, however, was whether the passing attack could endure the offense in case the ground game had problems. With the way Justin Fields develops both physically and mentally, it becomes increasingly difficult to ignore the threat the horse-chestnuts pose in the air. Fields was particularly keen on the Scarlet Knights and completed 15 of his 19 attempts for a career high of 305 yards with four touchdowns – no sack or interception. Both Penn State and Michigan will obviously be bigger tests, but the Buckeyes definitely seem ready for them.
Cade Stover could thrive on the defensive.
The label on his duffel identified Cade Stover as a linebacker, and that was the position Ohio State recruited to fill him. But the freshman did some practice reps at the end of the defensive, and since the Buckeyes are still running out, he looked like a potential star down there on the road as soon as Larry Johnson has more time to work with him. Stover is unlikely to play this season because he appeared in four games as a Redshirt year is likely still in his best interests. Considering the lineback's existing strength and some off-season losses, Stover may need to continue this step permanently.
Bottlenecks Affect Ohio State
The volume of targets will always be relatively limited, but Ohio's bottlenecks seem to have a knack for making the most of them. Luke Farrell caused a sensation with his touchdown touchdown, Jake Hausmann turned his only catch into a goal and the US state of Ohio saw Jeremy Ruckert have more influence in the second half of the season. By and large, these three guys and Rashod Berry are high on the Buckeyes' priority list when it comes to deciding where to touch. But they all bring with them more than the ability to block to accelerate the attack, and now they need to be considered at least in the game plan by opposing defenses.
Motivation is no problem for Buckeyes moving forward
The state of Ohio can not really be blamed for a week's decline in concentration as Rutgers may not pose a real threat to the country's most complete team. It's incredibly difficult to survive a college football season without a break or disappointment – but the Buckeyes still managed to win an easy win without their being near their best. Similar to the season-opener against Florida Atlantic, Ohio seemed more concerned about simply securing a win early and avoiding setbacks in the second half. But now, with Penn State, Michigan, and a potential opponent of the Big Ten championship games on the line, some guys will get a chance to prove themselves on big stages. Expect a group focusing on lasers next week.
Ohio State Secondary Gets Key Representative
The Buckeyes played it safe with Damon Arnette and his injured wrist and released the day, though he had dressed and worked through all the warm-up exercises before the game. The absence of the older cornerback gave Ohio more reps to a few young people – and allowed Shaun Wade to play outside, where he almost immediately struck with a catch and a forced fumble. But men like Sevyn Banks and Cameron Brown were the real beneficiaries of Arnette taking a break, and these two men seem ready to take the torch for a newly designed secondary school next season. The State of Ohio has effectively transformed the Rutgers journey into a developmental issue that could prove particularly useful for the defensive on the road.