Ohio State-Rutgers | Gene Smith’s on Chase Young’s Heisman hopes, and other notes

Bill Rabinowitz,Joey Kaufman
Ohio State left guard Jonah Jackson got to go up against his former Rutgers teammates.[Kyle Robertson/Dispatch]

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith recalled his college roommate this week.

Smith was at Notre Dame when he lived with Ross Browner, an All-America defensive end.

In 1977, the season after Smith had graduated, Browner put together a productive enough stretch that he finished fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy, ending up in New York as a finalist.

Smith thought about Browner as he considered the Heisman Trophy case for Buckeyes defensive end Chase Young.

“In the collegiate space, he was so disruptive,” Smith said. “Chase is that type of player. He is so disruptive.”

After Young tied the Ohio State record for sacks in a game with four last month against Wisconsin, he emerged as a possible Heisman candidate. His candidacy took a hit after a two-game suspension related to a loan late last year that violated NCAA rules. Young sat out Saturday’s visit to Rutgers and the previous week’s home win over Maryland.

No player has won the Heisman Trophy while missing multiple games since Notre Dame quarterback Angelo Bertelli in 1943.

But Smith, who referred to Young as highly cooperative during the investigation into his eligibility and remarked that “he took the high road,” thought that voters should still consider Young for the Heisman and that he should be included among the finalists.

“I think he deserves to be there,” Smith said. “When you're talking about the best player in all of college football, I think, frankly, we're going to lean to the quarterback, we're going to lean to the running back. But there's a lot of defensive players that should be considered. He's certainly one of them. Hopefully, he can get back into the conversation.”

Before the suspension, Young’s candidacy for the Heisman had been a long shot because no pure defensive player has ever won. A defensive player was a finalist as recently as 2016: Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, who finished fifth.

Dueling pregame shows

ESPN’s College GameDay and Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff will broadcast from Ohio State next Saturday before the game against Penn State.


See you next week for @PennStateFball x @OhioStateFB


— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) November 17, 2019

It marks the ESPN show’s first visit to Columbus since last season’s Michigan game.

In the College Football Playoff rankings, Ohio State is No. 2 and Penn State is No. 9. The Nittany Lions improved to 9-1 with a 34-27 win over Indiana on Saturday. The winner of the game will likely win the Big Ten East.

Olave, Fields click deep

Sophomore receiver Chris Olave has emerged as a star with his smooth route-running and terrific hands, but he and Justin Fields have had trouble clicking on deep passes.

That changed against Rutgers. Olave had catches of 58 and 42 yards on his way to a career-high 139 yards on four catches. He caught the 58-yarder, which set up Ohio State’s third touchdown, despite drawing a flag for defensive pass interference. He caught the ball by pinning it against his leg and maintaining control as he fell.

“Me and Justin, we kind of struggled earlier in the year with the deep ball,” he said. “He was kind of overthrowing me. We finally got connected today, and I believe we're going to need that in the next couple weeks.

“We’ve got to lock in for the next couple weeks. We’ve got to prepare like no other.”

Emotional return

Left guard Jonah Jackson returned to the stadium he called home for four years.

Jackson played for Rutgers before transferring as a graduate this summer.

“There was definitely emotion into it — yeah, for sure,” Jackson said of playing against his former teammates.

He said he was greeted warmly by them.

“They said, ‘Good to see you, we miss you, can't wait for you to come back and hang out and just catch up,’ ” Jackson said. “Once the season's over, I'm definitely excited to come back here and pay them a visit and see my brothers.”

Light workload

Running back J.K. Dobbins did not see a carry in the second half for the fourth time in Ohio State’s 10 games.

Dobbins has logged 42 rush attempts in the second half, though he has still rushed for 1,289 yards and is ranked fourth in FBS in rushing. In the first half against the Scarlet Knights, he had 89 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

While filling in for Dobbins in the second half, freshman Steele Chambers rushed for 56 yards on nine carries, and redshirt freshman Master Teague had 45 rushing yards on 10 carries.

Buckeyes bits

By winning all of its first 10 games by 24 or more points, Ohio State became only the second team to do so in 100 years. The 1971 Nebraska team also did it. … Backup linebacker K’Vaughan Pope intercepted a pass for the second straight game. … Receiver K.J. Hill, who had four catches for 62 yards and a touchdown, has caught at least one pass in 44 consecutive games. He is 10 receptions away from breaking David Boston’s school record of 191 for career catches.