Ohio State opened the 2021 season with a 45-31 win at Minnesota on Thursday night. The Buckeyes trailed by four at halftime by were sparked by four second-half touchdowns from redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud, who was making his first career start after winning the job during fall camp.
Local and national college football analysts shared some of their thoughts on the game, and BuckeyesNow has compiled some of the best reactions below:
Tom Fornelli, CBS Sports
“Thursday night, we saw a kid making his first collegiate start on the road in front of a hostile crowd, and it showed early. He looked nervous, and it felt like he was trying to score a touchdown on every throw. Then the second half started, and Stroud appeared calmer and more trusting of the incredible weapons at his disposal. He finished the night with nearly 300 yards and four scores, but a lot of those yards came after the catch on long touchdowns by (Chris) Olave and (TreVeyon) Henderson.”
“When you have guys capable of scoring from anywhere with the ball in their hands, your job is just to get the ball in their hands. Look at how well it worked out for Mac Jones at Alabama last season. There's no reason why it can't be the same story for Stroud.”
Brian White, The Columbus Dispatch
“All summer, we've heard that Miyan Williams was apparently, maybe, possibly running with the first team in the top-secret Ohio State camp. On Thursday, he showed why, with a 71-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Perhaps the best part of the play is that Williams went the wrong way, heading right instead of left. But because there were no defenders to the right, he sailed to the end zone and didn't get in (too much) trouble.
“For the game, he had 125 yards on nine carries. Henderson has been electric in camp, we were told. Well, his 70-yard catch-and-run TD in the fourth quarter showed him to be worth every one of his five stars earned in high school.”
Stephen Means, Cleveland.com
“The Buckeyes had high and low moments from both the offense and defense that resulted in a 14-10 halftime deficit with the Golden Gophers holding all momentum. Two of the last three times OSU headed to Big Ten West territory for a night game they left with losses to Iowa (2017) and Purdue (2018). A trip to Minneapolis in 2021 had that same feel for much of the night.
“Eventually, the more talented team pulled away as the Buckeyes improved its streak of season-opening wins to 21. Even if they didn’t assert their dominance in doing so.”
Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY Sports
“The lesson for Ohio State can be shared with Alabama and Clemson. It's not so easy to roll out of bed with a first-year starting quarterback and go up against a quality opponent without a hiccup along the way.
“Stroud, the replacement for Justin Fields, rebounded from a sluggish start to go for 294 yards and four scores, though his receivers did most of the heavy lifting. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide and new quarterback Bryce Young get ready for a Week 1 matchup with Miami, while Clemson and D.J. Uiagalelei do the same with Georgia.”
Matt Miller, thedraftscout.com
“Rewatching the Ohio State game and impressed by Haskell Garrett’s overall performance. In a defensive tackle class that’s not very defined at the top, he’s my highest rated player.”
Joel Klatt, FOX Sports
“If I was giving a game ball, who was the best performer of the night for Ohio State, on offense, it’d be Ryan Day. Why? He didn’t panic. He continued to stay bold. And then he found the areas to throw the ball down the field. This is why he’s one of the best offensive coaches in college football. He allowed the veterans on the team to carry a young quarterback through his struggles in his first start and got him through to the other side. That’s hard to do.”
Jordan Schultz, ESPN
“I’m old enough to remember when a bunch of misinformed haters wrote off C.J. Stroud because his first-ever collegiate game didn’t start off well during a Big Ten road game. Meanwhile, 300 yards and four touchdowns later, y’all been awfully quiet!”
R.J. Young, FOX Sports
“Ohio State gave up 400 yards of offense – 203 on the ground – and put up 495. On a sample size of one game – we only get 12 – Ohio State has a 2017 Oklahoma problem that it needs to fix or keep in check before playing No. 11 Oregon.”
Dan Brugler, The Athletic
“Reviewing the OhioState-Minnesota tape. Thayer Munford (#75) had only played OT in college (almost 2,500 snaps), but played really well in his debut at LG last night. Strong, physical hands. Adjusted to the quickness inside. Played wide and kept his weight centered.”
Dan Katz, Barstool Sports
“Well this game changed very quickly. That’s why they’re Ohio State. Playmakers everywhere.”
John Canzano, The Oregonian
“Ohio State is not invincible. That’s the takeaway.
"Oregon has to feel encouraged about that. Thursday night went down as a hopeful, intriguing demonstration. Ducks coach Mario Cristobal and his staff had to be watching. Players had to be tuned in. I know droves of UO fans were. But before the Ducks get a crack at a perennial national championship contender on the road, they’ve got some business to take care of at home.
“Oregon doesn’t just need to beat Fresno State on Saturday. It has to make a statement. One that will make us all believe the Ducks can go to Columbus in a week and do what Minnesota could not.”
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