Ohio State grade card: Buckeyes dominate even when not at their best

A grade card on Ohio State’s 49-10 win over Rutgers, which raised the Buckeyes’ record to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten games:

OFFENSE: B

Ohio State’s offense didn’t have its best day or even close to its best day. Neither did quarterback C.J. Stroud. And the Buckeyes still scored 49 points.

But Miyan Williams had his best day in an Ohio State uniform and that made up for some other things. Williams rushed for 189 yards on 21 carries and scored five touchdowns, which put him into the OSU record book along with Keith Byars and Pete Johnson for most touchdowns in a game by a Buckeyes running back.

The highlight of Williams’ day was a 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Offensive tackle Paris Johnson channeled Orlando Pace with a block that drove a Rutgers defender back several yards on that play.

Stroud was 13 of 22 for 154 yards and passed for two touchdowns. But his accuracy was occasionally lacking and he threw into triple coverage on his interception. With a first down at Rutgers’ 1-yard line in the second quarter, Ohio State needed five plays to score a touchdown.

Wide receiver Julian Fleming continued to show what he can do when healthy when he had a touchdown catch for the third game in a row.

DEFENSE: B

Before the season began, not many people would have predicted the linebackers would become the best unit on Ohio State’s defense. But five games into the season, that could be true.

Starting linebackers Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers continued to be productive against Rutgers. Eichenberg, who leads OSU in tackles, added nine to his season total on Saturday and had two tackles for losses. Chambers led OSU with 11 tackles and had an interception.

Defensive end Zach Harrison also had a good game with a forced fumble that Ohio State recovered and he tipped the ball at the line of scrimmage on Chambers’ interception.

Cornerback Denzel Burke’s slump continued when he was burned by Rutgers’ receiver Sean Ryan on a 14-yard touchdown catch for the Scarlet Knights’ only touchdown. Burke became a starter in the first game of his freshman season last year but his sophomore season hasn’t gone quite as smoothly. Surprisingly, Ohio State had only one sack and it came late in the game by Ryan Turner.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-

Ordinarily, Emeka Egbuka fumbling while fielding a punt to set up Rutgers’ only touchdown would be Ohio State’s most talked about special teams play in a game like this.

But not when OSU punter Jesse Mirco decided to take off running instead of punting the ball and ran for 22 yards with his team ahead by 39 points in the fourth quarter.

Rutgers’ Aron Cruickshank took exception to Mirco’s decision and put a big hit on him well out of bounds on the Ohio State sideline. There was some pushing and shoving by players from each team and OSU coach Ryan Day and Rutgers coach Greg Schiano yelled at each other and pointed fingers.

OVERALL: B

Ohio State dominated another game it was supposed to dominate even if there weren’t a lot of style points.

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.