Rutgers welcomed the 2nd ranked Ohio State Buckeyes to Piscataway for a 3:30 pm kickoff. The game began with the mercury reading 39 degrees, but the sun went down quickly afterward and it was a cold one for all those on hand.
Rutgers had the ball first and gained a decent four yards from running back Isaih Pacheco back in the lineup on first down. Unfortunately, Knights quarterback Johnny Langan was picked off on the second play of the game. It was a well designed route concept that got Bo Melton behind his defender and a well thrown ball would have gone for a 71 yard touchdown. Instead the ball was behind Bo and despite his best effort to knock it away, the Ohio State defender Shaun Wade made a tremendous catch to secure the interception. Ohio State wasted no time en route to a four play, 60 yard TD drive. 7-0, OSU.
The Scarlet Knights second drive was a lot like the first. On 2nd and 8, Langan made a nice throw to wide receiver Isaiah Washington who found some open space. Washington turned away from contact of the first defender right into the helmet of the second, jarring the ball loose. After a brief scramble, the Buckeyes came out of the pile with the ball. Three plays later, 14-0.
On their first two drives, Ohio State simply blew the Rutgers defensive line off the ball. Part of that comes from RU being off a bye week and part that OSU simply has tremendous offensive linemen. To their credit, Rutgers dug in and defended the run better and better as the half wore on. Willington Previlon was the only guy who looked good from the opening drive. Robin Jutwreten got better as the game went along and Julius Turner had a few moments.
Despite a nice 21 yard run by Langan on the ensuing drive, Rutgers was forced to punt for the first time in the game. Adam Korsak pinned the Buckeyes at their own nine yard line. After converting a 3rd and 2 from their own 28, OSU quarterback Justin Fields completed a bomb to Chris Olave down to the RU 8. One play later. J.K. Dobbins was in the endzone. 21-0, OSU, just nine minutes into the game.
Things looked like they were about to get ugly with RU punting again on their next possession despite a nice third down catch by Melton that extended the drive earlier. In another wrinkle (finally!!!!), Adam Korsak held the ball for extra time as Rutgers blocked up well on the punt. The resulting traffic caused a muffed return that Larry Stevens would have run into the end zone had he been allowed to advance the ball on a fumbled fair catch.
Given new life and good field position, Rutgers capitalized on the momentum. On 3rd and 3 at the OSU 26, Isaih Pacheco exploded past left tackle en route to a his 7th touchdown of the year. So for the first time all game the home team got some cheers from the crowd. OSU 21, Rutgers 7.
It looked like Rutgers might get the ball back quickly on a 3rd and 2, but OSU converted and then two plays later hit the end zone again. 28-7, just one play into the 2nd quarter.
After the teams exchanged punts, a key sequence to maintain dignity took place. On a 2nd and 9 from the 43 yard line, Johnny Langan chugged several yards into OSU territory, but the play was called back for holding. After a negative play and a penalty, RU punted from their own 19 and OSU moved right down the field into a goal to go situation. Rutgers got a 4th down stop though on an impressive goal line stand to keep the score 28-7. Both home and neutral fans stood to applaud the effort. Even some of the many Buckeye fans in attendance had to respect the heart of the RU defense. Tyshon Fogg in particular was on three of the tackles inside the 10 yard line.
It was short lived because Rutgers gained just seven yards on six plays and punted. The return was solid and OSU set up shop at midfield. This time they would not be denied and with 1:03 left in the first half, it was 35-7.
Halftime stats: First Downs: RU 5, OSU 17. Total yards; OSU 359, RU 117. Passing yards: OSU 241, RU 30. Time of possession: RU 17:09, OSU 12:51.
Ohio State got the ball after half and faced an immediate 3rd and 7. Not only did OSU convert on a run after catch, Elorm Lumor was flagged for a modern day roughing the passer which amounted to a small push from behind that in no way would have injured anyone. OSU wasted no time, completing a bomb to Olave again despite pass interference on Damon Hayes, who otherwise had a good game. On the next play, Fields threaded the needle perfectly to the back corner of the end zone to Farrell again. 42-0. (Note at this point OSU had six TDs, RU had just five first downs.)
After another RU punt, NJ native Chris Chugunov entered the game. OSU punted on his first drive, but after an interception was set up well again at the RU 25. Chugunov converted a touchdown pass to Jake Hausmann to make it 49-7 and those who bet the over (62.5-63.5 depending) were feeling a lot better about their choice as 8:33 remained in the 3rd quarter. For those scoring at home, OSU had outscored their opponents by an average of 42 points per game this season.
After the teams exchanged punts, Rutgers mounted a solid drive late in the 3rd. Isaih Pacheco willed the team across midfield then as he was getting a breather on the sideline RU avoided disaster as a Langan rollout pass was almost picked. Good thing for the home squad that Langan has mental toughness and resiliency because on the very next play he fired a ball down to Bo Melton on a 3rd and 8. Bo made a beautiful adjustment, catch, and run for a touchdown. 49-14, 1:00 left in the 3rd.
OSU added a score on an interesting drive. They benefitted from a questionable holding call on Jaohne Duggan and then a fumble that was overturned. Then after another fumble they recovered to set up a third and long, Rutgers was disorganized. OSU made them pay with a 32 yard completion for a TD from Chugunov. 56-14, 8:19 remaining in the game.
Rutgers moved the ball well on the heels of a 41 yard catch by Kay’Ron Adams on a wheel route, but was unable to get points in OSU territory.
RU did get the ball back in OSU territory after a strip sack by Tre Avery that was returned to the 20 yard line by Olakunle Fatukasi. Rutgers was bailed out by a pass interference call when Bo Melton got tangled up on 4th down that got the ball to the three yard line and 1:58 left in the game. Kay’Ron Adams was stuffed inches short on first down. Then on second with Langan under center, he spun out of two tackles while being facemasked but the ball popped out late. It seemed pretty obvious on the replay that Langan was in the end zone before the ball squirted out and the referees overturned the call despite the pile of bodies. 56-21, 1:09 remaining in the game.
Well at least we have a basketball game this evening to hopefully soften the blow, though RU did a lot more against Ohio State than any of us or Las Vegas expected.
Key stat(s): Ohio State at one point had run 19 plays and scored four touchdowns ... OSU had allowed just eight touchdowns all season coming into this game. Yet Rutgers of all teams victimized them three times (not a misprint). Still didn’t matter much with how good the OSU offense is.
Additional Takeaway(s): Rutgers did use the bye week quite well. The wrinkles in the offense did take a few drives for OSU to adjust to. Unfortunately, Rutgers could not connect to some open receivers on well designed plays and the runs weren’t long enough to keep the clock moving. To even stay close with a team like OSU, everything has to go perfectly. The OSU defense was just too fast to the perimeter to allow anyone to turn the corner.
The Rutgers secondary has really been disjointed this season. The biggest disappointment is that Avery Young seems to be headed in the wrong direction after a strong start to the year. Perhaps it’s because Tre Avery is getting more reps to try and prepare him for Damon Hayes’s graduation. The inexperienced safeties have had an up and down season, but with more good coaching should take another step heading into 2020.
I know getting Johnny Langan better and keeping cohesion on offense is key for the rest of the year and next (backup or otherwise) to develop the rest of the offensive personnel, but maybe we should have seen a few snaps for Cole Snyder (redshirt secured already) or even Austin Albericci? I know it’s Ohio State, but maybe just have them handoff? What this probably means is Art Sitkowski will be coming in relief one of the next two games if needed. It also is an indicator of how tough Johnny Langan truly is having run (literally) the gauntlet of the Big Ten, getting contact on almost every down.
Brendan Bordner had a nice game against his hometown team as did Kay’Ron Adams, also from Ohio.
B1G Boy Football: Even when you are surrounded by four and five star talent and nursing a 21-0 lead, catching a punt in windy conditions can be tough. Ohio State Punt Returner Garrett Wilson had the ball bounce out of his hands directly into the arms of Rutgers Special Teams Warrior Larry Stevens. It would set up the first Rutgers touchdown of the day in a short field. These are the types of plays that can determine the outcome of close games, so Rutgers needs to be on the right end of more of them in 2020 like they were today.
Next up: Rutgers hosts Michigan State on Nov. 23 at noon for Senior Day.
Look for more coverage of this game and the news heading into the Michigan State game here at onthebanks.com
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