J.T. Barrett threw an interception on Ohio State’s first offensive possession, but that was in no way an indication of how his day would go.
The redshirt junior became the program’s all-time leader in touchdown passes Saturday, throwing four in the first half in a 58-0 blowout of Rutgers at Ohio Stadium.
Despite a slowish start for Ohio State — it was just 6-0 after a quarter — Barrett and the Buckeyes turned on the jets in a 24-point second quarter and ended up out-gaining the Knights, 360-84, in the first 30 minutes of play. That trend continued after halftime, too, with Ohio State adding four more touchdowns, all of them of the rushing variety to turn this one into a merciless blowout.
After Barrett's interception, Ohio State scored on every drive until the game's last, when a fourth-and-goal try from 11 yards out was unsuccessful. That included seven straight touchdown drives.
Barrett had touchdown passes to four different receivers in the first half: Curtis Samuel, Dontre Wilson, Marcus Baugh and Terry McLaurin. Barrett's day was over before the third quarter was, and he finished 21-for-29 with 238 yards to go along with that quartet of scoring throws. Samuel had a big first half with 70 receiving yards to go along with his touchdown catch and an additional 58 rushing yards. He finished with 154 total yards.
Mike Weber also had a huge day running the ball. He went for 144 yards on just 14 carries, including a 46-yard touchdown run.
And, as it’s been doing all season, the Buckeyes’ defense certainly came to play, blanking the Knights and limiting them to just 107 total yards on the game. With 84 of those in the first half, the Knights had a shocking second-half yardage total of just 23. Ohio State out-rushed Rutgers, 410-74, holding a ridiculous 669-107 total-yardage edge on the day.
Throwing the ball, Rutgers was 3-for-16 as a team.
Ohio State, the second-ranked team in the country, improved to a perfect 4-0 with the win and will take on Indiana next weekend.
Rutgers fell to 2-3 with the loss and takes on Michigan next weekend.
Saturday morning’s potential lineup looked different for a few reasons. First, there were more familiar faces, thanks to players trickling in after their World Cup of Hockey work.
Second, Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane weren’t on the same line. While part of that is because the Blackhawks are still short a few players, it’s also an experiment that could carry over into the regular-season.
Kane was with Nick Schmaltz and Artem Anisimov and Panarin was with Vinnie Hinostroza and Richard Panik and they’ll see how that works starting Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues. Granted, this is only part of the change. The main gist is to give Jonathan Toews, who hasn’t joined the Blackhawks for camp yet, a good playing partner on that top line. Still, it’s a first look coach Joel Quenneville would like to take.
"It’s definitely a thought process and we’re saying ‘Let’s have a look at it in camp," Quenneville said. "And maybe we can have a different look or something to think about, at least, going into the season with Johnny and Kaner being on different lines and having more balance on both lines."
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
The Blackhawks struggled with finding the right combinations, outside of that top line, last season. Panarin did play with Toews for a few games but the combination didn’t click as well as the Panarin-Kane one, and that second line of those two and Anisimov was quickly restored. This season the issues facing the Blackhawks’ forward depth are obvious, so it’s worth another look to see, once Toews gets here, if he and Panarin can get something going.
"[It’s] more so about having balance on both lines and having more depth and scoring throughout the lineup," Quenneville said.
- Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Brent Seabrook will also play vs. St. Louis.
- Quenneville said Duncan Keith (knee) is progressing well and, "we’re hoping that he can get a [preseason] game in or so."
- Scott Darling is slated to play the entire game against the Blues.