Michael Thomas

Associated Press

With J.T. Barrett at the helm, No. 1 Ohio State again looks like the team to beat in college football

12 Comments

Ah, yes. This is how it was supposed to be all along.

The Cardale Jones experiment was nice, but this is who Ohio State was supposed to be all along: J.T. Barrett running point for an Ohio State offense that unloads on opponents with both barrels, as they did Saturday night in a 49-7 dumping of Rutgers.

Barrett earned his first start since breaking his ankle last November against Michigan and played, outside of a fumble that killed Ohio State’s opening drive, flawlessly. The sophomore completed 14-of-18 throws for 223 yards and three touchdowns while rushing 13 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, Barrett mirrored Chris Paul in his prime in the way his presence opened things up for his teammates. Ezekiel Elliott rushed 19 times for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Thomas caught five balls for 103 yards and a score. Braxton Miller snagged two passes for 55 yards and rushed once for 16 yards. Curtis Samuel caught a 30-yard touchdown pass.

This was such a thorough destruction that ESPN broadcasters Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit entertained themselves by creating a parlor game wondering when Urban Meyer would finally get Jalin Marshall his touchdown – in the middle of the third quarter of a road conference game. Marshall’s score came on a one-yard pop pass with 4:34 remaining in the frame, pushing the Ohio State lead to 42-0.

Elliott put a cap on the night for the Buckeye starters with a 55-yard scoring dash with 13:42 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Rutgers opened the game with the type of oomph you’d expect from a team with the top-ranked defending national champions and a national TV audience on campus. The Scarlet Knights took the ball to open the game and moved 64 yards over 12 plays, but the drive was undone when Kyle Federico clanged a 29-yard field goal off the left upright. The Knights forced a Barrett fumble to close Ohio State’s opening march, but that was basically that for Rutgers. Rutgers punted on its next eight possessions, a string only broken when Chris Laviano was intercepted by Gareon Conley, setting up Ohio State’s sixth touchdown drive of the night. The Scarlet Knights did not dent the scoreboard until only 13 seconds showed on the fourth quarter clock.

Ohio State, winner of 21 straight now, moved to 7-0 (3-0 Big Ten) on the season, one week closer to facing the two teams that actually have a chance of beating them. But as long as Barrett remains healthy and employed, this Ohio State team will continue to resemble that Ohio State team we thought we’d see all year.

Barrett, No. 1 Buckeyes blanking Rutgers at the half

Associated Press
2 Comments

J.T. Barrett has been effective throwing and running the ball and the Ohio State defense has handled a fired-up Rutgers team, giving No. 1 Ohio State a 21-0 lead at the half.

Rutgers accepted the ball to open the game and marched 64 yards in 12 plays, chewing up nearly five minutes, but Kyle Federico‘s 29-yard field goal try clanged off the left upright. Rutgers’s next five touches ended in punts, and three of those possessions traveled 11 or fewer yards.

Ohio State’s first possession ended in a Barrett fumble, but the sophomore has been otherwise flawless in his first start of the season, completing 5-of-7 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown while rushing 10 times for 85 yards and a score. Barrett hit Michael Thomas for a 50-yard touchdown pass to put Ohio State up 14-0 with 6:48 to go in the second quarter, and then found Braxton Miller for 45-yard gain on the Buckeyes’ next possession, setting up his own two-yard touchdown run with 3:02 remaining before the break.

Ezekiel Elliott carried nine times for only 15 yards, but one of those was a two-yard jaunt to open the scoring with 10 ticks left in the first quarter.

Overall, Ohio State out-gained Rutgers 248-145 in the first half while holding the Scarlet Knights to six first downs.

Buckeye Down: WR Corey Smith done for the year

2 Comments

Ohio State’s offense has been up and down when trying to throw the football, and today it lost another receiver for the rest of the season. Corey Smith will miss the rest of the 2015 season after being carted off the field with a leg injury in Ohio State’s road win at Indiana on Saturday.

On Monday, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said the injury suffered by Smith was similar in nature to the one that sidelined another starting Buckeyes wide receiver, Noah Brown, before the start of the season. Brown injured his left leg in training camp. The nature of the injury was never confirmed but was believed to be a broken leg.

He had a similar injury to Noah Brown,” Meyer said. “And one of my favorite players, a guy that’s been through a lot in his life, certainly a lot here, but my heart bleeds for that guy and so do the rest of our team, a kid that really spills it — was on all special teams for us, played really, really hard. From what I understand there’s a chance we can get one more year back. We’re going to see what happens.”

Smith appeared in four games after serving a one-game suspension at the start of the season. In those four games, Smith caught five passes for 62 yards. He had been listed behind Michael Thomas on the Ohio State depth chart. Thomas is Ohio State’s leading receiver with 292 yards and four touchdowns. Now Ohio State is starting to become a bit thin at receiver.

Ezekiel Elliott pushes No. 1 Ohio State to avoid Hoosier upset

16 Comments

With his offense once again struggling, Urban Meyer finally made the call for No. 1 Ohio State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) to ride running back Ezekiel Elliott to victory. Elliott had two touchdown runs in the third quarter totaling 120 yards in the third quarter to help give Ohio State a much-needed spark. Both scores gave Ohio State a lead but a fourth quarter touchdown pass from Cardale Jones to Michael Thomas proved to be the difference in the game as the Buckeyes avoided a Big Ten upset to Indiana (4-1, 0-1 Big Ten) in Bloomington. the win was sealed when Indiana’s last pass of the game fell incomplete as the clock expired.

Elliott ended the day with 274 rushing yards, and 195 of those came on his three touchdown runs in the game. His 75-yard scamper down the field, after Indiana had jumped offside, gave Ohio State a 34-20 lead, but he was forced to keep pushing because Indiana quarterback Zander Diamont answered with a 79-yard touchdown run. Diamont had entered the game in relief of an injured Nate Sudfeld. Indiana running back Jordan Howard was also forced to leave the game due to injury, but the Hoosiers kept the pressure on.

The play fo Jones at quarterback has been under some tight scrutiny lately, and that will continue in this game. The box score does not reveal some of the issues Ohio State may have with Jones. Jones ended the game with 17-of-26 for 245 yards and a touchdown and an interception. There were times when Jones was throwing behind or above his receiver, and his receivers at times did pull in some high passes. He also held on to the football too long at times, but there is no real apparent rush to make a switch to J.T. Barrett. Ohio State remians undefeated

Ohio State has not had the most impressive 5-0 starts you will see, but the Buckeyes have made plays when they have needed to make them. how much does that count? We will get a better idea tomorrow when the new polls come out. Ohio State has remained a pretty solid No. 1 in the eyes of the voters for both the AP and coaches polls. Next up for Ohio State will be a home game against Maryland. The Terrapins will travel to Columbus with a 2-3 record after being defeated at home by a rising Michigan program. Ohio State’s schedule still appears favorable to be undefeated by the time they host Michigan State in November.

Indiana will travel to Penn State next week. If tIndiana plays the way it did in the first half, the Hoosiers could pick up the road win in State College for the first time in program history. If the Hoosiers are banged up though, then next week’s game at Penn State could be quite ugly.

Cardale yanked, sluggish Buckeyes on upset alert vs. N. Illinois

Getty Images
13 Comments

For the second Saturday in a row, Ohio State has looked sluggish and sloppy in the first half.  This weekend, though, they’re facing the kind of team with the talent to make them pay in the end.

On a rain-soaked afternoon in Columbus, the defending national champions bumbled and stumbled their way to a 10-10 tie with a Northern Illinois team that has won 11 or more games each of the last five season.  The tone for OSU’s first half was set on its first two possessions — and then continued on into the initial possession of the second quarter.

On the third play of the Buckeyes’ first possession of the game, Cardale Jones tossed an interception that the Huskies turned into a touchdown three plays later.  The next possession for OSU, an Ezekiel Elliott fumble that was recovered by NIU.  On the first play of the second quarter, Jones tossed another pick that was turned into three points.

That was enough for an exasperated Urban Meyer, who yanked the 2014 postseason star (4-9, 36 yards) in favor of record-setting backup J.T. Barrett.  Jones’ first-half performance continues a season-long malaise; in 10 quarters this season, the rifle-armed redshirt junior has completed 26-of-47 passes (55.3 percent) 334 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions.  He hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since early in the third quarter of the opener against Virginia Tech.

Barrett, though, failed to provide any type of spark.

Barrett’s performance lends credence to those who thought he should’ve been the starter opening the season instead of Jones [/pulls muscle patting self on back].  Well, for one possession anyway.

After a three-and-out on his first possession that included a near-miss pick-six for NIU, Barrett found Michael Thomas in the end zone on their ensuing possession from 23 yards to tie the game at 10-all halfway through the second quarter.  In what was essentially a quarter’s worth of work, Barrett completed 3-of-6 passes for 31 yards.

Perhaps most disturbing for the Buckeyes is their play-calling.  Arguably the best running back in college football, Ezekiel Elliott has just 10 carries for 39 yards.  Conversely, 16 plays for a passing game that simply isn’t clicking — in fairness, NIU has a solid defense — have been called.  For the second consecutive week, the loss of coordinator Tom Herman to Houston (head coach) is being felt by the offense.