Rutgers shutout, beatdown by No. 2 Ohio State in 58-0 blowout in Columbus
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Chris Ash returned to Ohio Stadium, a place he found great success as a coordinator under Urban Meyer, but as the head coach of his own team playing in scarlet and white Saturday.
This time, he was on the sidelines of the Horseshoe coaching the underdog, a Rutgers' football team coming off the heels of a near upset of defending Big Ten West division champions Iowa.
No. 2 Ohio State was a heavy favorite for a reason, having had a pair of field days on offense in its two meetings with the Scarlet Knights since they joined the Big Ten in 2014, outscoring their visitors on Homecoming by a combined score of 105-24 before their latest matchup.
Looking to reverse the trend in his first game back at the Shoe since becoming the head coach in Piscataway, Ash’s team had a promising start, holding the top offense in the Big Ten to just 6 points in the opening quarter.
But the third time wasn’t the charm, the inevitable onslaught from the Buckeyes coming a quarter later than expected as the floodgates burst open in the second period.
After throwing an interception on its first drive, Ohio State scored on nine consecutive drives, racking up 58 unanswered points — 24 points in the second quarter, 21 in the third and 14 in the final — while holding the Rutgers offense scoreless in a 58-0 blowout win, the Buckeyes’ third consecutive of at least 40 points over Rutgers (2-3, 0-2), in front of 105,830 people.
The margin of victory was the largest in a Big Ten regular season matchup since 1981.
The Hawkeyes started the season ranked 11 spots lower than Ohio State, but the gap felt so much larger to Ash and his team.
“There's a completely different talent level out on this field in this team than the one we played last week ... This was a completely different animal,” Ash said of the Buckeyes. “That’s an outstanding football team and they played well today. Ran the ball well, threw the ball well and played outstanding defense. We struggled to move the ball on offense and get first downs when we needed them and obviously struggled to stop the run on defense. Especially in the second quarter, the wheels kind of fell off in the second quarter, and it was tough to get them stopped.”
Twelve different players made a catch for the home team, with eight of them scoring a touchdown, split right down the middle between rushing and receiving.
Junior quarterback JT Barrett had a say in the first four times Ohio State (4-0, 1-0) reached the endzone as he terrorized the Knights for a third time in as many seasons.
Entering the game averaging 202 yards and five touchdowns a game against Rutgers in his first two meetings with the Knights, the Heisman Trophy candidate boosted his numbers with 284 total yards — 238 through the air, 46 on the ground — and four touchdowns, the third of which saw him surpass Bobby Hoying for most touchdown passes in program history, an achievement he called "a great honor" postgame.
“I’m an Ohio State fan, so I know all the great quarterbacks at Ohio State, all the great players,” said Buckeyes’ head coach Urban Meyer. “To see J.T. Barrett throw 60 in 21 starts, averaging almost three touchdowns per game, that’s just an incredible feat when you consider the school he broke that at.”
The touchdown pass record was the most prominent broken on the day but was far from the only, a mountain of nuggets emerging from this beatdown that tell the story.
Ohio State junior running back Mike Weber entered the game two yards behind Rutgers junior running back Robert Martin for the highest average of rushing yards per game but finished it with a substantial lead.
The Detroit, Michigan, native racked up a career-high 144 yards on 14 carries, the longest coming in the form of a career-high 49-yard run that set up the only field goal of the game, which made the score 9-0 a minute into the second quarter.
Martin was only able to muster up 40 yards on 13 carries, bringing his average down nearly 20 yards to 99.5 per game as Weber shot his up to 123.75.
Barrett finished each of the next three drives after the field goal with a touchdown pass before Weber ran in the fifth touchdown of the afternoon to make it 37-0 two and a half minutes into the second half.
The sixth drive of the day would be the last for Barrett and second to last for Weber, a tandem that combined for 428 yards, making up nearly two-thirds of Ohio State’s 669 total yards. With the Knights only mustering up 116 yards, the Buckeyes owned an offensive margin of +553, the most they’ve had under Meyer since he took over the program in 2012.
The trend of the game — Rutgers punt, Ohio State touchdown — didn’t change with backup quarterback Joe Burrow in the game, but the style in which the Buckeyes scored did, the final four touchdowns coming on the ground as opposed to through the air.
All 10 of the Knights' drives ended in junior Michael Cintron punting the ball back to Ohio State, while the hosts scored on everyone of its 11 drives except for the first — which ended in an interception from senior safety Anthony Cioffi — and the last, a turnover on downs after the Buckeyes went for it on fourth down inside Rutgers’ 20.
Entering the game as the most efficient defense in the red zone, keeping its first four opponents to a 37.5 percent conversion rate in 11 attempts, the Knights conceded a score in 8 of the 9 trips the Buckeyes made into the area.
"You look at the score, you look at the stats, we didn't play good," Ash said. "All 22 on both sides of the ball, we didn't play very good."
The list of incriminating stats against Rutgers goes on and on, but the point remains the same — Ohio State was completely dominant on the afternoon.
The Knights will have to go through the nightmare game once more when they watch film of the game and evaluate their performances, hoping to pull out any positives from the historic beatdown.
But until then, Ash’s first loss at the Shoe since his first game as defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes leaves nothing but a sour taste in his mouth.
“Not right now, no, until we get a chance to watch the game and evaluate it,” Ash said when pressed for positives to pull from the game. “But sitting here, based on what I just watched, no, there’s not a whole lot of positives.”