Ohio State rolled to 5-0 with an easy 49-10 win over Rutgers. As has been the case all season, there were plenty of positives for the Buckeyes. But we try to always keep the big picture in mind, so here’s the highs and the lows of the Buckeyes’ blowout victory over Rutgers.

What we liked …

Miyan Williams

Williams has long been a productive part of a backfield time share in Columbus. But with TreVeyon Henderson unavailable for Saturday’s game, Williams got his chance to shine. The 189 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns were amazing — the latter mark tying the Buckeyes’ single-game record. But perhaps more significant for the long-term future of the Buckeyes is that 4 of the 5 scores were from 1 or 2 yards. Once Henderson is healthy, Williams has been too productive to not split time. But his ability to convert short-yardage runs could end up being pivotal come CFP time.

The defense

Sure, Rutgers won’t be mistaken for the 1980s San Francisco 49ers anytime soon. But Jim Knowles’s defense was great, probably even better than numbers indicate. Rutgers’ 2 scores came directly from Ohio State turnovers on the Buckeyes’ end of the field. For the game, Rutgers had 187 total yards and 12 first downs. The Scarlet Knights were 1-for-13 on 3rd and 4th down conversion attempts. With the exception of a 26-yard pass, Rutgers didn’t hit another play longer than 11 yards all day.

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The next-guy-up situation

Yes, Ohio State has suffered an absurd number of injuries this season. But the Buckeyes never seem fazed. The Williams in place of Henderson storyline is just another chapter of a season-long story. It’s been the emergence of Emeka Egbuka as WR1 in the absence of Jaxon Smith-Njigba, excellent play by multiple secondary players after starters were sidelined, and many more such narratives. It’s not that Ohio State has survived the loss of potentially key players, it’s that the Buckeyes have thrived without them.

What we didn’t like …

The next-guy-down situation

On the other hand, the lingering concern here is that Ohio State’s main performers — the players excepted to carry the ball, catch the big passes, cover the opposition’s top receivers — have spent precious little time on the field in the first half of this season.

Smith-Njigba has 4 catches for 36 yards. Henderson has 50 carries in 5 games. Virtually the entire secondary has been sidelined at some point. At some point, does the standout work of the reserves who are now holding their own create mini-controversies? What happens in a big game in December or January when a star has a bit of a struggle? One of the most quoted axioms in football is that a team with 2 quarterbacks has no quarterbacks. But what about a team with 2 star running backs? Or 4 standout receivers? Or half a dozen DBs? Can OSU make it work, or will it haunt the team in the end?

Jesse Mirco’s dash

Ohio State has spent a fair amount of the season trying to balance between letting reserves play and letting opponents escape The Horseshoe with a reasonable amount of dignity left.

In general, Ryan Day gets the balance down pretty well — and so do his players. But Jesse Mirco’s 22-yard fake punt dash with a 49-10 4th quarter edge felt pretty iffy. Sure, it apparently wasn’t a called play, just Mirco’s reaction to what he saw in real time. But at some point, the unwritten rules of football dictate not rubbing an opponent’s nose in the dirt. Maybe it’s a teaching moment. But it would be bad to see it become a pattern.


Ohio State has been downright stingy with turnovers in recent years. Last season, Ohio State finished with 11 turnovers in 13 games. Saturday included a pair of turnovers, which puts Ohio State at 4 turnovers in 5 games.

The distressing point is that the turnovers led to Rutgers’ only scores of the game. Of course, the most costly was the Emeka Egbuka fumbled punt inside the Ohio State red zone, which is the kind of mistake Ohio State certainly wants to avoid moving forward.