FOOTBALL

Here are 5 things we learned from the Ohio State Buckeyes' 49-10 win over Rutgers

Brian White
The Columbus Dispatch

Who doesn't love it when a blowout is made interesting by a good old-fashioned coach donnybrook?

That's what we got on Saturday toward the end of Ohio State's 49-10 win over Rutgers. Buckeyes punter Jesse Mirco, with the game well in hand, took off through a vacated right side of the field and ran for 22 yards and a first down. Rutgers' Aron Cruickshank didn't appreciate what he viewed as piling on and drilled Mirco out of bounds.

Arguing ensued, including loud words between Ohio State coach Ryan Day and Rutgers' Greg Schiano, who sprinted from his sideline to the OSU side and made it clear he didn't appreciate what was going on.

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All was settled with a hug, and it looks like we won't get any Mike Ditka vs. Buddy Ryan theatrics.

Thus, we're left with a Miyan Williams-dominated rout to discuss.

Alas, here are five things we learned from Saturday's game:

Linebacker Steele Chambers led Ohio State with 11 tackles. He had two tackles for loss and an interception in a 49-10 win over Rutgers.

Linebacker Steele Chambers continues his rise

Steele Chambers brings real speed to the Ohio State defense, which makes sense because he was a pretty good running back before moving to linebacker. He led the Buckeyes with 11 tackles, including eight solo, and many were on the perimeter.

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While Tommy Eichenberg does much of his work by banging inside, Chambers can play inside and to the sidelines. His interception on Saturday was a gift because Zach Harrison deflected the pass right to him. The real marvel was watching him race around blockers and catch ballcarriers.

It makes more sense for opponents to challenge Chambers up the middle, or if they're going to run outside, to go to the side opposite him. But so far, teams have tried his sideline, and it's not working.

Ohio State still having issues at cornerback

Rutgers wide receiver Sean Ryan makes a touchdown catch over Ohio State cornerback Denzel Burke, at left.

Denzel Burke returned this week after missing the Wisconsin game with an apparent hand injury. And again, the man who was the team's best cornerback a year ago found himself on the losing end of too many passes.

Burke got beat by Sean Ryan for a first-quarter touchdown. Ryan beat him again in the third quarter for a 26-yard completion. It sounds odd after his stellar performance in 2021, especially given that true freshman JK Johnson is at the other corner in Cam Brown's continued absence, but teams might be targeting Burke now.

At what point does TreVeyon Henderson's availability become a concern?

Henderson was a recruiting prize, the running back everyone wanted. And as a freshman last year he raised comparisons to, gulp, Archie Griffin when he ran for 277 yards against Tulsa.

Henderson shows flashes of greatness. But ... he often is unavailable because he's hurt. We never know the whole story with Ohio State injuries, because the Buckeyes don't reveal their severity or the parts of the body affected. They don't even do the hockey charade of designating injuries as upper body or lower body. On Saturday, Henderson, who wasn't included on the team's availability list, was scratched before kickoff because of a mystery ailment.

Luckily for the Buckeyes, Williams is a workhorse who thrives on contact, and he ran for 189 yards and five touchdowns on 20 carries before giving way to freshman Dallan Hayden in garbage time. But this was Rutgers whom Williams bullied. Against better opponents, OSU will want its desired mix of Henderson's explosiveness and Williams' power.

Ryan Day won some friends in the locker room

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano walks across the field to exchange words with Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day during the fourth quarter of the Buckeyes' 49-10 win Saturday.

Ever since being bullied by Michigan in November, Day has preached toughness to his team. Overall, he's a nice guy who uses the phrases "competitive excellence" and "competitive stamina" over and over again, but his bottom line is that he doesn't want his team to be of the finesse variety.

So far, so good. And late in Saturday's game, it got even better. Day's furor when Mirco got flattened was an eruption that escalated like crazy when Schiano sprinted across the field to point fingers. Day screamed at Rutgers players. He pointed his finger in Schiano's face and yelled at him in a get-off-my-sideline kind of rant.

It was great blowout-game entertainment, and it certainly has to be the talk of his own players. Here was their coach, in the midst of a mismatch, having their backs. So much so, he was willing to protect a punter and fight an old friend he has great respect for.

If they were wondering how much fight they should show, they know a bit more now. Coach went crazy. Coach has their backs. Coach doesn't take plays off.

The legend of Jesse Mirco continues to grow

Ohio State punter Jesse Mirco runs 22 yards for a first down. The play resulted in a shouting match between OSU coach Ryan Day and Rutgers' Greg Schiano.

He's a punter on a team that doesn't punt much, but when he does, he is sensational, routinely backing opponents inside the 10-yard line. He's a field flipper.

On Saturday, he woke up a lot of bored fans by taking off when he realized a lane was open, even though the Buckeyes led 49-10. It wasn't very sportsmanlike, but Mirco did what he's been taught. He saw no Rutgers defenders on one side of the field, so he took off running. After 22 yards − which, by the way, was more than all but one Rutgers runner recorded for the night − he was shellacked by a peeved Cruickshank.

Mirco grabbed his head for a bit, then told his teammates he was fine. A few plays later, he jogged onto the field, dropped another punt inside the 10 and left the field smiling.

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