Ohio State resumed Big Ten play with a convincing 52-13 win at Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.
The Buckeyes were led offensively by quarterback C.J. Stroud, who threw for 330 yards and a career-high five touchdowns, as well as defensively by safety Ronnie Hickman’s team-high 11 total tackles.
It marked Ohio State’s 20th straight regular season conference victory, dating back to a loss at Purdue in 2018.
With that said, local and national college football analysts shared some of their thoughts on the game, and BuckeyesNow has compiled some of the best reactions below:
Bill Landis, The Athletic
“Ohio State is starting to look like Ohio State. I know, it’s Rutgers. It’s not the same Rutgers that the Buckeyes used to routinely run off the field. Greg Schiano has made his program more competitive, more respectable, better. But it’s still Rutgers, and you only get so much credit for that. You certainly don’t get a bunch of gold stars for boat-racing Akron.
“Still, there’s something to be said for a team gaining confidence and simply performing to expectations. And the past two weeks, this team has looked how it’s supposed to look. That’s progress.
“We all know about the weird vibe that surrounded the team in the first three weeks. Nothing looked easy. The defense was a wreck. The offense couldn’t put together a complete game, or find balance. It’s probably too early to say Ohio State has turned a corner as it pertains to any of that. But maybe the corner is coming into view? Maybe the Buckeyes are starting to lean into the turn a little bit?”
Bill Bender, Sporting News
“The Buckeyes are the next Big Ten team (behind Penn State, Iowa and Michigan), but we still consider them the favorite in the conference. The board sets up nicely with those other teams in front. Ohio State dominated Rutgers in a 52-13 victory.
“C.J. Stroud returned and had four of his five passing TDs in the first half, and playmakers TreVeyon Henderson, Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson all scored TDs. Ohio State is the one team on this list with enough offensive firepower to entertain challenging Alabama and Georgia.
“That Oregon loss will be forgiven with a Big Ten championship.”
Tom VanHaaren, ESPN
“Coach Ryan Day said after the win that this was the first week he felt like the team had made a lot of progress toward their goal. Questions about the defense this season resulted in a change in play-calling duties, but the Buckeyes' defense caused three interceptions against Rutgers and looked more like a typical Ohio State defense than it has in the past four games.”
Phil Harrison, Buckeyes Wire
“It was a little hard to take too much away from the Akron game because the talent gap was so wide, but after a very good defensive performance against a much better Rutgers team, there is real improvement in the defense and that’s a wonderful development.
“This team is only a championship one if the defense can play at a high level, and it looks like it’s on the way. Against Rutgers, there was a lot more pressure from the defensive line, and things were covered up much better on the second level and beyond. OSU even forced three turnovers against a team that had been pretty stingy with the ball thus far.
“Yes, things are moving in the right direction after all the changes a few weeks ago.”
Justin Holbrock, NBC4
“Prior to Saturday’s game, C.J. Stroud had yet to perform well in the first quarter. But against Rutgers, the redshirt freshman had eight completions for 120 yards and one touchdown. That propelled him to a 330-yard, five touchdown game despite only playing two and half quarters.
“Stroud showed poise in the face of doubters calling for coach Ryan Day to look elsewhere for a starting quarterback. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was Stroud’s utilization in the run and bootleg, which will do wonders to keep opposing defenses honest from honing in too much on the run game.
“Stroud fed his top targets in Olave and Garrett Wilson who combined for nearly 200 yards but also got tight end Jeremy Ruckert involved with four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown. This type of game should help Stroud gain more confidence as the Buckeyes head into the heart of Big Ten play.”
Aaron Breitman, On The Banks
“The alleged decline of the Buckeyes was greatly exaggerated. Even OSU in a supposed down year is most likely still the best team in the Big Ten. They are easily the most talented by a wide margin with perhaps the only exception being Penn State.
“Ohio State has sixteen former 5-star recruits on its roster and RU has zero. While Rutgers’ performance was extremely disappointing, keeping it in perspective related to the big picture is important. Until Schiano can stockpile the roster with better talent, being competitive with OSU doesn’t look possible anytime soon.”
Chris Iseman, Asbury Park Press
“Regardless of how much progress Rutgers has made as a program recently, and regardless of how well the Scarlet Knights have played overall this season, going up against Ohio State represented a considerable challenge.
“The Buckeyes, while showing some signs of vulnerability on both sides of the ball this season, still are an elite Big Ten team for a reason. They’ve consistently owned top recruiting classes in recent years. They reload instead of rebuild.
“Ohio State boasts an abundance of talent. Rutgers saw just how much on Saturday.”
Spencer Holbrook, Lettermen Row
“It's just Akron and Rutgers... but the Ohio State defense is gaining a lot of confidence.”
Jay Richardson, ABC6/FOX28
“Welcome to the 2021 Football season Ohio State Buckeyes. Glad you could make it. This is what we been waiting to see.”
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