Rapid Reaction: Ohio State fighting injuries, but Miyan Williams' career-day overwhelms Rutgers
For Ohio State, the sidelines are looking increasingly like a MASH unit. Against Rutgers, the Buckeyes were without TreVeyon Henderson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Cameron Brown and Cameron Martinez, among many others. The Buckeyes also lost Tanner McCalister to a first-half injury. But despite all the injuries, Saturday brought no problems for the No. 3 Buckeyes, thanks to Miyan Williams, as they rolled to an easy 49-10 win over Rutgers anyway.
In the absence of Henderson, Williams had a career game. By the middle of the third quarter, Williams had topped his career rushing high, posting his second consecutive 100+ yard effort. With 5 rushing touchdowns, Williams tied the OSU single-game record for rushing touchdowns, held by Pete Johnson and Keith Byars. He finished with 189 yards on the ground.
As good of a day as it was for the Buckeyes, it opened inauspiciously. After a game opening 3-and-out for Rutgers, Emeka Egbuka fumbled the Scarlet Knights’ punt. Rutgers recovered at the OSU 18, and were in the end zone 3 plays later, when QB Evan Simon completed a 14-yard scoring pass to Ryan Sean. After the extra point, Rutgers held a surprising 7-0 lead with 11:00 left in the first quarter. Given the struggles of many ranked teams in recent weeks, the surprising start could have foreshadowed a tough day. But Ohio State made sure it didn’t.
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Rutgers followed their score by attempting an onside kick, which Ohio State receiver Jayden Ballard easily recovered. Five plays later, Williams tied the game with a 2-yard scoring run. Williams popped a 32-yard run earlier on the drive to set up the score.
After a Rutgers 3-and-out, Ohio State took the lead with a 74-yard scoring march. On a 3rd-down pass, CJ Stroud hit Egbuka for a 27-yard gain. They connected again for a 20-yard gain, and Williams picked up his 2nd touchdown of the day from 1 yard out with 4:05 left in the first quarter.
Rutgers’ next drive ended when Zach Harrison forced a fumble, which Mike Hall Jr. recovered. On the 2nd play of the 2nd quarter, Stroud connected with Julian Fleming on a 36-yard scoring strike to extend OSU’s advantage to 21-7 with 14:51 left in the first half. Stroud, in a run-heavy game without some of his best receiving targets, had a ho-hum effort, failing to reach 200 passing yards for only the 2nd time in his 2 season as Ohio State’s starting QB. He also threw a 3rd quarter interception, his 2nd of the season, which also meant that he has thrown interceptions in back-to-back games for the first time since the Oregon and Tulsa games in 2021.
In the final minute of the first half, the Buckeyes tacked on another score on Williams’ 3rd touchdown of the day, another 1-yard rush. Ohio State then took a 28-7 lead to the locked room at the half. Rutgers had just 90 total yards of offense and 6 first downs in the opening half. Despite the loss of McCalister to injury, the Buckeyes’ defense had little to no trouble with the Scarlet Knights.
Just as the game opened with a turnover, Stroud threw an interception on the opening drive of the second half, which Rutgers converted into a 35-yard Jude McAtamney field goal, trimming the Buckeye advantage to 28-10. But any shift in momentum didn’t last long, as Williams took the next play from scrimmage 70 yards for his 4th touchdown of the afternoon. Ohio State held a 35-10 lead with 10:01 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
After a 4th-down stop, Ohio State mounted another drive at the end of the 3rd quarter, culminating on a 4-yard strike from Stroud to Marvin Harrison Jr. to make it 42-10.
After a defensive stop, Williams reached the end zone for a 5th time, scoring from 2 yards out with 14:50 left, making it 49-10 in favor of the Buckeyes.
Ohio State’s victory moves the Buckeyes to 5-0 ahead of next week’s trip to Michigan State. Rutgers falls to 3-2 and will host Nebraska next week.