Trey Sermon starts day as backup, ends it with Ohio State rushing record
INDIANAPOLIS – Trey Sermon began Saturday as Master Teague III's backup.
He ended it running for more yards than anyone else in Ohio State history.
By doing so, the transfer running back from Oklahoma led the Buckeyes to another Big Ten title, and almost certainly to a repeat spot in the College Football Playoffs.
Sermon ran for 331 yards in 29 carries, breaking Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George's record of 314 yards set in 1995, in Ohio State's 22-10 victory over Northwestern at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The senior ran for 271 yards and two touchdowns in the second half as Ohio State rallied from a 10-6 halftime deficit.
Teague started for Ohio State but left the game early with an unspecified injury. Sermon broke tackles on his first two runs to show he might have a chance for a special day.
“He ran with a different look in his eye,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.
Still, at halftime, he had 60 yards – a nice start but nothing hinting at a record day.
In the second half, the holes became gaping and Sermon used his cutback ability to tear through the Wildcats' defense. Ohio State's offensive line was back intact after center Josh Myers and tackles Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere missed the Michigan State game for COVID-19 reasons.
Day said the line, along with tight ends Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert, wore down the Wildcats.
“It was amazing,” he said. “Those guys played their tails off. They fought hard from start to finish and I'm just grateful. They made my job easy, just moving the line of scrimmage and dominating up front.”
Sermon's longest carry was for 65 yards. That drive didn't end in points, but he carried the load on two he did finish for touchdowns of 9 and 3 yards. He broke George's record on Ohio State's game-ending drive with a 23-yard carry to the Northwestern 8-yard line.
Sermon got off to a slow start as a Buckeye. Day said that early in the season there was uncertainty whether Sermon would pan out as hoped, especially since he was coming off a knee injury sustained late last season at Oklahoma.
Sermon began to find his groove against Michigan State two weeks ago when he ran for 112 yards. But nothing hinted at what happened Saturday.
“After he broke a couple in the first half,” Myers said, “I was like, 'Oh, he's about to go off.' I knew it was just a matter of time. And man, did it feel good.”