PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The glorified scrimmage that was Saturday’s game against Rutgers went about as expected.
Ohio State scored early and often, and rolled to a 56-21 victory at SHI Stadium.
A Rutgers victory would have ranked among the biggest upsets in the history of college football considering that the Scarlet Knights were 52-point underdogs to the No. 2 Buckeyes and haven’t been competitive in any of their Big Ten games.
And yes, this was a mismatch. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields threw for a career-high 305 yards and four touchdowns on 15-of-19 passing, and J.K. Dobbins ran for two scores.
Dobbins, who had 89 yards in 17 carries, played only in the first half. Fields and the rest of the starters took the day off after a touchdown drive made it 42-7 on the first possession of the third quarter.
Yet the Buckeyes (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten) were not flawless.
Dobbins was stuffed on third and fourth downs at the Rutgers 1-yard line to end one second-quarter drive.
Freshman Garrett Wilson muffed a punt that set up the Scarlet Knights’ first touchdown late in the first quarter.
Ohio State backups gave up two second-half touchdowns. That allowed the Scarlet Knights (2-8, 0-7) to match Florida Atlantic for most points allowed by the Buckeyes this season.
"We didn't have a great game overall as a team," Dobbins said. "So we'll look at the film and pick out the mistakes and learn from them."
But they won’t spend a lot of time on Rutgers video. Up next are Penn State and Michigan.
"All focus, the minute that game went to zero, is on Penn State and getting ready for this next run," coach Ryan Day said. "We’ve got to do everything we can to prepare for this game, and it starts right now.
"We talked about that (in the locker room). We talked very little about this game. We talked right away about preparation and what it means for this week. So we'll get home tonight, get some rest and then get back in there tomorrow, have a meeting and get right to Penn State."
The Buckeyes started the game as if they wanted to cover the point spread in the first half. They needed only 2 minutes, 1 second to take a 14-0 lead, even though Rutgers got the opening kickoff.
Cornerback Shaun Wade was at the center of it. The third-year sophomore intercepted a Johnny Langan pass on Rutgers’ first possession. The Buckeyes needed only four plays to go 40 yards, the final 18 when Dobbins made a nifty cutback.
Two plays later, Wade forced a fumble recovered by New Jersey native Jordan Fuller at the Rutgers’ 33. Fields then threw three completions, the last two to Binjimen Victor, for the second touchdown.
The Buckeyes made it 21-0 with 6 minutes left in the opening quarter on an 8-yard Dobbins run after Chris Olave caught a 58-yard pass.
The defense was just as effective, even without a couple of its cornerstones. Defensive end Chase Young sat out his second game due to an NCAA suspension related to an improper loan. Cornerback Damon Arnette, who has played all year with a broken wrist, also was held out.
Ohio State didn’t need either of them. Rutgers could generate only 117 yards against Buckeyes starters in the first half.
The Scarlet Knights’ longest play in the first two quarters was their touchdown, a 26-yard run by Isaih Pacheco after the Wilson muff, to make it 21-7.
K.J. Hill caught a 35-yard pass from Fields on the first play of the second quarter.
After Dobbins was stuffed twice near the goal line, the Buckeyes made amends on their next drive. They needed only 40 seconds to go 50 yards as Fields again connected with Victor for the score on a 24-yard completion.
Day had Fields and the starters — minus Dobbins — open the second half. The Buckeyes went 82 yards in only five plays to score before yielding to backups.
Their play was spotty, but they did score twice. Chris Chugunov threw to Jake Hausmann for the tight end’s first career touchdown. Jaelen Gill later scored his first career touchdown on a 32-yard wide receiver screen in which he broke a couple of tackles and carried would-be tacklers into the end zone.
Ohio State outgained Rutgers 594-231.