Ohio State-Rutgers | Ray Stein’s Bottom Line

Ray Stein
Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade (24) celebrates an interception with Jeff Okudah, left, linebacker Pete Werner and cornerback Sevyn Banks (12) in the first quarter. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

It is a testament to Ohio State’s domination this season that a 35-point win over Rutgers felt like something of a letdown. Of course, the Buckeyes never were in danger of losing; after all, the team buses didn’t get lost on the way to the stadium. OSU wasn’t always as crisp as it has shown against tougher competition, but that’s no reason to believe the season is about to crumble. Leaves are awarded on a zero-to-five basis.

Offense (4)

As if Ohio State hasn’t given future opponents enough things to think about, Justin Fields broke out the deep game to the tune of 305 yards (his first 300-yard effort) and four TD passes. The youngster dropped some serious dimes. J.K. Dobbins added 89 yards and two TDs; how good would his numbers be if he played more than a half?

Defense (3)

Shaun Wade set the tone with a man’s interception on Rutgers’ second play and a forced fumble on its fourth, leading to a quick 14-0 OSU lead. But the Buckeyes were a sloppy Joe on the dress shirt at times afterward, giving up three touchdowns after having allowed only eight in their first nine games. Three TDs. To Rutgers. Repeat, Rutgers.

Special teams (2)

Rutgers’ first score was set up when Garrett Wilson’s muffed punt gave the Knights a short field. It may have cost the Buckeyes a shutout; in the coming weeks such a mistake might cost them a lead, or worse. Truth is, Rutgers enjoyed better field position all afternoon, largely because punter Drue Chrisman was unable to flip the field.

Coaching (3)

Nothing says “teaching moment” like an uninspiring performance against an overmatched opponent, and Ryan Day and his staff will have plenty of ammunition to motivate his players in the coming days. A match under the backsides often does the trick. Beyond that, there is the notion that Fields takes too many hits. In other words, don’t do a Tua.

Fun (1)

SHI Stadium is missing something, and not only an apt but inappropriate consonant to its first name. But it’s hard to blame fans for not wanting to pay hard-earned money on a cold day for a game in which the result was preordained and then reinforced on every national signing day for years. That this game was messier than a pigsty only made it worse.

Opponent (1)

Ah, Rutgers. As they say, one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor, and the Knights have been mopped so many times that one expects to see Mr. Clean on the sideline as a program consultant. Is there hope that these Big Ten bottom-feeders may rise again? That depends on who the next coach is. Greg Schiano is available, just saying.

Officiating (3)

It’s clear that Mark Kluczysnki’s crew watched the clown show that unfolded in Cleveland the other night and said, “Not on my watch.” The refs were quick to call one unsportsmanlike conduct and a personal foul on Rutgers that were ticky-tack. They also called three penalties for illegalities on kickoffs, which must be a record.