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After school records fell against Vegas, is the passing game out of its rut? It should continue to look like it at Rutgers.
In the polls
The Buckeyes stayed No. 9 in the coaches poll, administered by USA Today. They dropped one spot in the Associated Press media poll, out of the top 10 to No. 11.
Whether it was just a passing fancy against an inferior opponent remains to be seen, but when J.T. Barrett, Dwayne Haskins and the Ohio State receiving corps spread their wings they soared. The combined 474 yards passing (Barrett 209, Haskins 228, Joe Burrow 37) were a school single-game record. The seven different receivers who caught the touchdown passes from Barrett (Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, Binjimen Victor, Terry McLaurin, K.J. Hill) and from Haskins (C.J. Saunders, Rashod Berry) beat the previous school single-game record by two. Footnote: Campbell (105 yards) and Saunders (102) became first OSU receiver tandem to top 100 yards in the same game since Ted Ginn Jr. (167) and Santonio Holmes (124) in the 2005 season’s Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame.
What went right?
The passing overshadowed what also was a productive day on the ground — 190 rushing yards, of which freshman J.K. Dobbins provided 95 on 14 carries. The Buckeyes had 664 total yards, their season high. Footnote: UNLV is 120th in the nation in total defense (499.0-yard average). Footnote 2: Dobbins is No. 6 nationally in rushing yards (520).
Back to the drawing board
Urban Meyer left no doubt that the three pass interference penalties incurred by the defense (Kendall Sheffield two, Denzel Ward one) plus a hold on a pass route (Sheffield) that propped up sagging drives by UNLV were “awful.” Ohio State is the nation’s 29th-most penalized team (69.25-yard average).
Defensive tackle Malik Barrow suffered a knee injury, the severity of which could be learned Monday. Running back Mike Weber did not play as he continues to heal from a preseason hamstring strain. Defensive tackle Roberts Landers (ankle sprain) and middle linebacker Chris Worley (foot sprain) also missed the game.
Ward also made some plays, like the breakup of a deep pass down the middle that Damon Webb corralled for an interception. Damon Arnette’s pick also came with an assist, a deflection by Nick Bosa.
Rutgers, which for three quarters had embattled Nebraska against the ropes in Lincoln only to let the Huskers go. In the second year under coach Chris Ash, a former Ohio State defensive co-coordinator, the Scarlet Knights are showing signs of improvement. But they have lost their past 15 conference games dating to 2015. Their only victory this season was over Football Championship Subdivision foe Morgan State.
This week's challenge
It will be to keep riding the tidal wave. The informed know the Buckeyes blasted Rutgers 58-0 last year. Like last week against UNLV, anything short of another one-sided affair Saturday night, even if it is on the road, likely will mean another slip in esteem.