OSU grade card: It was a blowout that didn’t always feel like one

A grade card on Ohio State’s 45-12 win over Arkansas State:

OFFENSE: B

Ohio State was very good at the beginning of the game when it scored two touchdowns and a field goal on its first three possessions and early in the second half when it got touchdowns on its first two possessions. But the rest of the game it was not as efficient as in those two stretches.

C.J. Stroud did C.J. Stroud things even without his favorite receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who sat out the game after being injured in the opener against Notre Dame. Smith-Njigba’s absence was not a problem for OSU and Stroud (16 of 24 for 351 yards and 4 touchdown passes) because of receivers like Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka.

Harrison caught three touchdown passes and had a total of seven catches for 184 yards. His touchdown plays went for 42 yards, 42 yards and 30 yards. Egbuka caught four passes for 118 yards and had a 51-yard touchdown reception.

DEFENSE: B-

The good news is that OSU didn’t allow a touchdown, held Arkansas State to 53 yards rushing, had 12 tackles for losses and harassed quarterback James Blackman more than having only two sacks might show. Three of the tackles for losses and one of the sacks belonged to redshirt freshman defensive tackle Mike Hall.

The not so good news is that the Buckeyes’ cornerbacks frequently struggled and that the defense had six of the nine penalties on the scarlet and gray.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C

Kicker Noah Ruggles made his only field goal attempt, a 24-yarder in the second quarter, and punter Jesse Mirco did not have any of his five punts returned.

It looked like Egbuka had broken OSU’s streak of not returning a punt for a touchdown since 2014 when he took one 78 yards to the end zone in the first quarter. But two penalty flags lying on the field said the streak would continue. OSU had a turnover on a punt and looked uncertain while fielding other punts.

OVERALL: B-

The expectation was Ohio State winning in a blowout. The score said it was a blowout. But it didn’t always feel like one.

Jim Naveau has covered local and high school sports for The Lima News since 1978 and Ohio State football since 1992. His OSU coverage appears in more than 30 newspapers. Naveau, a Miami University graduate, also worked at the Greenville Advocate and the Piqua Daily Call. He has seen every boys state basketball tournament since 1977. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0414.