Haskins has offense in high gear in opener
Saturday: Ohio State 77, Oregon State 31
Next game: vs. Rutgers
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Ohio Stadium
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)
25 words or fewer
The Buckeyes devoured their opening cream puff, though the defense needed napkins. Next up in Ryan Day’s abbreviated era: Rutgers and the Big Ten opener.
In the polls
Ohio State entered the weekend ranked No. 3 in the coaches’ preseason poll and No. 5 in The Associated Press poll. The first polls of the regular season are delayed until Tuesday to accommodate the games played through the extended Labor Day weekend.
The offense, which for the first time under the direction of quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. rolled up 721 yards. It was hotter just once in Ohio State history, when it gained 776 yards in the 77-10 bushwhacking of Bowling Green in the 2016 opener. Haskins passed for 313 yards and five touchdowns, OSU highs for a QB debut. He was backed by a 375-yard running game led by Mike Weber’s 186 that included three TDs (he added a fourth score on a reception). Haskins did throw an interception and the Buckeyes had to punt once, but 10 offensive TDs told the tale.
Back to the drawing board
The defense added the 11th TD when defensive end Nick Bosa recovered a fumble in the end zone, and Bosa and company recorded five sacks and put a stranglehold on the Oregon State passing game with the exception of one play. But that one play, a 49-yard TD, and two more long ones on the rushing side — 80- and 78-yard TD sprints by Artavis Pierce — gave the OSU coaches heartburn. Do the math: The Beavers gained 207 of their 392 total yards on just three plays.
Drue Chrisman, otherwise known as the near-flawless holder for kicker Sean Nuernberger, had one chance to punt and he made it count, popping a 65-yarder that landed softly and was downed at the Oregon State 3-yard line. Two plays later, a blitzing Pete Werner knocked the ball free from quarterback Conor Blount in the end zone and Bosa recovered for the TD that pushed OSU ahead 42-7.
Safety Jordan Fuller, a captain and returning starter, didn’t play because of a hamstring pull suffered earlier in the week. His status for Saturday against Rutgers likely won’t be clear until midweek. Jahsen Wint and Isaiah Pryor, who had been battling for the other safety spot, were the starters against Oregon State.
Rutgers and Chris Ash, a former OSU defensive coordinator, who began his third season as coach with a 35-7 home win over Texas State. The Scarlet Knights’ true freshman quarterback, Artur Sitkowski, went 20-of-30 passing for 205 yards and one touchdown, but he also threw three interceptions. All-purpose back Raheem Blackshear gained 118 total yards (62 rushing, 56 receiving) before being pulled early to save him. Just as significant, the Rutgers defense gave up just 169 yards of offense to the Bobcats.
This week’s challenge
It’s no secret who the landlord is in this series, home or away. Since Rutgers joined the Big Ten in 2014 Ohio State has won by impressive margins: 56-17, 49-7, 58-0 and 56-0. It’s also no secret the Buckeyes’ first true test of the season will come Sept. 15 against Texas Christian in Arlington, Texas. Again, coach Urban Meyer won’t be allowed on the sideline against Rutgers or TCU as he finishes his suspension, but he returns to work on Monday to take part in the preparation for the Big Ten opener.