PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Deserved or not, New Jersey has a reputation as a place where things can go missing.
In Ohio State’s 56-0 victory over Rutgers on Saturday night, the Garden State was where some missing Buckeyes pieces were located.
Running back Mike Weber, a bit player so far this year because of hamstring issues and the emergence of J.K. Dobbins, scored his first three touchdowns of the season.
Even better, the Buckeyes’ deep passing game finally clicked behind J.T. Barrett, who became Ohio State’s all-time leader in passing yards.
Barrett needed 201 yards to surpass Art Schlichter’s record of 7,547 yards set from 1978 to 1981. He broke the record in the second quarter. Barrett finished 14 of 22 for 275 yards with three touchdown passes before exiting late in the third quarter. He now has 7,622 career passing yards.
“I think it’s a tremendous honor,” Barrett said. “I didn’t see that (happening) when I came to Ohio State. I just wanted to be the quarterback here and win a lot of games and be productive doing it.”
Barrett and the Buckeyes’ receivers had struggled to connect on downfield passes this season. After some early misfires early Saturday, they fixed that, with some help from a leaky Rutgers secondary.
Already leading 14-0 in the second quarter, the No. 11 Buckeyes (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) broke the game open with a couple of long touchdown passes to Johnnie Dixon. The first came when Barrett rolled out and saw Dixon wide open in an obvious coverage breakdown for an easy 70-yard score midway through the period.
Dixon then made it 28-0 when he caught a pass over the middle, cut left toward the sideline and barely stayed inbounds for a 39-yard score.
Barrett connected with Binjimen Victor for a 50-yard pass to set up Weber’s 2-yard run for a 35-0 halftime lead.
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Weber scored the first two touchdowns on short runs, the first score set up by a 37-yard run by Barrett and the second on a 34-yarder by Dobbins.
While the offense came alive, the Buckeyes’ defense was smothering all night as Ohio State continued its dominance over Rutgers. In four games against the Scarlet Knights, the Buckeyes have outscored Rutgers 219-24.
The Buckeyes had a 628-209 yardage margin on Saturday.
Despite the statistical domination, this wasn’t a flawless game by the Buckeyes, at least early. Numerous penalties and general sloppiness made for plenty of groans from the crowd of 46,328 at High Point Solutions Stadium, which included plenty of Buckeyes fans.
At one point, when the teams combined for 21 offensive snaps, they had nine penalties, five by Ohio State.
Rutgers (1-4, 0-1) has few playmakers and was without its best one when receiver/kick returner Janarion Grant didn’t play because of an injury sustained two weeks ago.
The Scarlet Knights were overmatched by Ohio State’s defense. Rutgers had only one serious scoring threat in the first half. It took over at the Ohio State 43 late in the first quarter after an uncharacteristically poor punt by freshman Drue Chrisman. Rutgers got to the Ohio State 15 before linebacker Dante Booker intercepted a pass tipped by defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle and bobbled by receiver Jawuan Harris.
After that, the Buckeyes didn’t allow a first down in the other five Rutgers possessions of the first half. Not one of the eight completions was to a wide receiver.
“The defense was very good,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “I think our pass defense is getting better and it will have to get better.”
The Buckeyes played without defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, who sustained a leg injury in the locker room following a midweek practice. Middle linebacker Chris Worley, who sprained a foot in the Army game, was held out for the second straight game.
Dwayne Haskins relieved Barrett and threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Demario McCall, who later added a 48-yard touchdown run for the game’s final score. McCall, slowed by injury this season, was the game’s leading rusher with 103 yards in 11 carries.
Rutgers’ bid to avert a shutout failed when a 32-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright with 43 seconds left.
“We got a win and some young guys got experience,” Meyer said. “We got a lot out of this.”
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