Passing game takes flight in two early routs

Staff Writer
Buckeye Xtra
Terry McLaurin catches a 51-yard touchdown pass against Rutgers, his third receiving TD of the season. McLaurin has stepped up his play this season and helped the Ohio State passing game get off to a torrid start. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Saturday: Ohio State 52, Rutgers 3

Next game: vs. TCU

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

TV: ABC (Channel 6)

Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1/1460)

25 words or fewer

Ohio State Airlines flight 2018 — Dwayne Haskins Jr., pilot; Tate Martell, copilot — heads to DFW this week for a prime-time stopover with Texas Christian.

In the polls

Like the rest of the top 10, the Buckeyes stood pat in the coaches’ poll at No. 4, behind Alabama, Clemson and Georgia, while TCU rose two spots to No. 14. Ohio State stayed No. 4 in The Associated Press media poll, also, and TCU moved up one to No. 15.

What’s hot?

The Ohio State passing game, which proved to have all-weather capability in the rain against Rutgers. It was a near-perfect 30-of-33 combined performance from Haskins (20 of 23, 233 yards, four touchdowns) and Martell (10 of 10, 121 yards, one TD). After two games, the Buckeyes are No. 1 in the country in completion percentage (.821), No. 1 in passing touchdowns (5.0 average), No. 4 in team passing efficiency (216.12) and No. 16 in passing yards (350.0 average). Individually, Haskins is tied for No. 1 in average TD passes per game (4.5), No. 3 in completion percentage (.792) and No. 4 in passing efficiency (218.0).

Wait, there’s more

The Ohio State offense treated the Oregon State and Rutgers defenses like Thanksgiving dinners. Lifted by the average of 300 yards rushing per game (12th nationally), the Buckeyes are No. 2 in total offense (650.0 average) behind Oklahoma State. They also are No. 1 in touchdowns (9.0 average) and No. 2 in scoring (64.5-point average) behind Toledo (66.0). Individually, Mike Weber is 26th in rushing (108.5-yard average).

What’s not so great?

Boosted by the two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties called against defensive end Chase Young, which got him kicked out of the game in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes are tied for 21st in penalties called against them (8.5 average). As might be expected, they are 16th in penalty yards (170).

Dinged up

Safety Jordan Fuller returned strong against Rutgers after missing the opener due to a hamstring strain. There were no injuries reported after the game.

Catch that?

Senior receiver and two-year captain Terry McLaurin appears to have taken his game to a higher level. After catching two TD passes in the opening win over Oregon State, he hauled in another from Martell in the rout of Rutgers. It was a 51-yard play, but what made it happen was the stutter-step move McLaurin put on the Rutgers defender to gain separation. That was shades of receivers of old.

Up next

TCU (2-0) is coming off a storm-delayed romp over rival Southern Methodist. The Horned Frogs spotted SMU a 9-0 lead, then poured it on for a 42-12 victory. What got them going was a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown by KaVontae Turpin, who also used his elite speed to score on a deep pass in the fourth quarter. In the 18th season under coach Gary Patterson, TCU is led by dual-threat QB Shawn Robinson, who tops the team in rushing (56.0-yard average) and passing (168.0-yard average).

This week’s challenge

Coach Urban Meyer again will be on hand all week as the Buckeyes prepare, but while he serves his third game suspension, acting head coach Ryan Day will run the show. Plus, it will be OSU’s first road game — though it will be played in the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, which the Buckeyes consider a home away from home. Ohio State won the first College Football Playoff national title there after the 2014 season, then beat Southern California in the Cotton Bowl there last Dec. 29.


Listen to the BuckeyeXtra Football podcast: