Ohio State Football extended its winning streak to five games after defeating Rutgers 49-10 at home Saturday afternoon. Here are some critical takeaways from the Ohio State Buckeyes’ decisive victory over Rutgers.
The Buckeyes were once again without many starters. WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury. Cornerback Cameron Brown also missed his second straight game due to an unexplained ailment. TreVeyon Henderson, the starting tailback, was kept out after seeming to injure himself during pregame warmups. Tanner McCalister, the starting safety, missed the game in the first half due to an injury.
Despite all those missing key players and except for an early error on the punt, everything else went the Buckeyes’ way.
Now let’s take a look at four things we learned about the Ohio State Buckeyes ahead of Week 6 of 2022 season.
4. Defense was solid
Ohio State football entered the game allowing just 16 points per contest to opponents. That number will decrease after the 10 scored by Rutgers.
Though the Scarlet Knights have been offensively challenged for much of the season, it was still impressive that Ohio State was able to hold them to just 3.34 yards per play. In fact, Rutgers’ longest gain of the day was only 14 yards. They managed just 187 yards of total offense (two fewer than Ohio State Miyan Williams’ rushing total) on the afternoon.
Early on, there were some nervous moments as Rutgers seemed to have some openings to run through. These were holes that would have been open for large gains against an Ohio State defense that was frequently misaligned and took terrible angles last year.
This year’s squad, however, has played assignment football and has finished tackles, which is why teams have struggled to finish drives and score touchdowns on them.
Steele Chambers stood out here. He had 11 tackles against the Scarlet Knights, including a pair of tackles for loss, an interception, and a quarterback hurry. This comes a week after linebacker Tommy Eichenberg had 14 stops of his own. Meanwhile, Tommy Eichenberg had another great game, with nine tackles of his own. As a team, Ohio State football had 67 tackles to Rutgers’ 53.
3. Denzel Burke struggles
As good as the Buckeyes defense was though, one guy who remains a conundrum for Ohio State football fans was cornerback Denzel Burke.
After a fantastic freshman season, Burke has underperformed so far this season and appears to be in trouble of losing his spot soon. He looks to be the weak link on the defensive back end time and again, and we question whether his confidence is shattered at this point.
Last season, Burke averaged more than three tackles per game including more than two solo tackles per contest. This season after four games, he has just seven total tackles to show for it.
Clearly, he’s been left on an island more than once with the system and attacking style of Jim Knowles’ defense. However, he has the talent to be one of the top corners in the country. He gave up more one-on-one balls on Saturday, and Ohio State needs him to play like we know he can in the future.
2. It’s not all about C.J. Stroud now
Star QB C.J. Stroud is a must-have for Ohio State football. When it comes to facing similarly stacked teams with national championship aspirations, Stroud will be the star that he is. However, unlike last season, he does not have to carry the team on his shoulders and with his enormous arm each and every single night.
That’s a good thing.
This is mainly because the Buckeyes have continued to demonstrate this year that it is a physical squad capable of pushing other teams around and gaining yardage the old-fashioned way. That means running the ball on the ground and pounding the chin of the opponent’s defense.
Because of their improved ground game, the Buckeyes won’t need to abandon the running game the same way they did at times last season. Ohio State football head coach Ryan Day can now manage the tempo of the offense in any manner he wants. In a way, he can load manage Stroud against unranked foes and preserve him against the toughest teams remaining on their schedule.
1. Miyan Williams is prime time, dude
MIYAN WILLIAMS 70 YARDS TO THE HOUSE 🔥 pic.twitter.com/LRH6KolnJd
— Buckeye Videos+ (@BuckeyeVideos) October 1, 2022
With starter TreVeyon Henderson unable to play, backup RB Miyan Williams assumed the majority of the run game responsibilities for the Buckeyes. His response? He gained 189 yards and five touchdowns, including a 70-yard run up the middle in the third quarter. Williams joined greats Pete Johnson and Keith Byars as the only Buckeyes runners to reach the end zone five times in a single game.
“Miyan was running hard today,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said post-game. “You know, he turns a 3-yard run into a 5-yard. He just keeps us on schedule. And it was tough down there in the red zone. (Rutgers) kind of dug in a few times. Miyan had a really good day for us.”
Williams is a 5-9, 225-pounder with incredible balance and deceptive agility. He can blast outside runs for Ohio State and in this game, he accomplished it all. Williams registered four short touchdown runs and the 70-yarder that caught Rutgers out of position. When Williams wasn’t scoring, he was moving the ball, as four of his runs resulted in first downs or long drives.
Williams is usually a suitable sub for Henderson, but he has shown that if needed, he could be the mainstay for Ohio State football.
Up next for Ohio State are the Michigan State Spartans, who are looking to spring a huge upset against a nationally-ranked opponent. However, if Stroud can play solidly along with their reliable run game and defense, the Buckeyes should emerge victorious once more.