COLUMBUS, Ohio — The talk all week was whether former Ohio State assistant and current Rutgers coach Chris Ash could take advantage of his familiarity with the Buckeyes’ defense.
The answer: Forget about it.
The stifling Ohio State defense overwhelmed the Scarlet Knights on the way to methodical 58-0 dismantling Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
J.T. Barrett broke the school record for career touchdown passes with the third of his four TD tosses Saturday, and the surging Buckeyes (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) gave Ash a rude welcome in his return to The Horseshoe.
“They smothered us,” said Ash, who spent the past two seasons as a co-defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes.
No. 2 Ohio State’s superb defense never allowed the Scarlet Knights (2-3, 0-2) to penetrate deeper than the Ohio State 38 yard line. They sacked quarterback Chris Laviano three times and allowed just 33 passing yards. They forced Rutgers to punt on each of its 10 drives that didn’t end a half.
Ash was asked if the Ohio State defense performed better than advertised.
“They played exceptionally well today, so no, they were not better than I thought, and I thought all along they were pretty darn good,” Ash said.
Barrett was 21 for 29 for 238 yards before giving way to backup Joe Burrow near the end of the third quarter. He now has 59 TD passes in 27 career games for Ohio State.
“There’s no doubt he’s a Heisman candidate,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.
Freshman tailback Mike Weber continued to cement his place in the Ohio State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) backfield, rushing for 144 yards on 14 attempts before also taking a seat in the third quarter. He also scored a touchdown, cutting around the left end and racing untouched for a 46-yard score 2 ½ minutes into the second half.
“I was just following my blocks,” Weber said. “They opened up the holes so I could run through. Give credit to the O-line. Today showed how much talent we have.”
Ohio State piled up 669 yards of total offense, including 410 on the ground. Barrett threw touchdown passes to four receivers.
Safety Chris Cioffi had one of the few highlights for Rutgers, picking off Barrett’s pass on Ohio State’s opening drive.
“We came out and fought in the beginning, but the wheels just fell off,” Cioffi said.
Rutgers: After playing tough against Iowa in 14-7 loss last week, Ash and the Scarlet Knights showed they will need a talent upgrade to keep up with the Big Ten’s elite teams. It didn’t help that star wide receiver and kick returner Janarion Grant suffered a season-ending injury in the Iowa game.
“We played extremely well last week,” Ash said. “But this was a completely different animal; the players, their offensive system is sophisticated, they have a lot of weapons. They do an outstanding job.”
Ohio State: The Buckeyes took care of business again and blew out an overmatched team. They show no signs of slowing down.
Ohio State H-back Curtis Samuel was as dependable as ever, catching seven passes for 86 yards and a touchdown, and running for another 68 yards. He’s established himself as a potent dual threat and, as Meyer predicted in the preseason, one of the team’s most valuable playmakers.
Probably none. Ohio State was impressive but is likely to stay at No. 2 in the AP Top 25 poll behind Alabama.
“Despite everything I’ve been though, it feels surreal,” said Barrett of breaking the school record for TD passes. “That’s crazy that I was just trying to do my part and do my best for the team and then broke the record.”
Rutgers: The Scarlets Knights’ rough ride through the conference continues with a night game at home against No. 4 Michigan.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes will be heavily favored again when they play Indiana in another appetizer game next Saturday before the Big Ten main course.
Follow Mitch Stacy at http://twitter.com/mitchstacy
For some of his other recent stories: http://bigstory.ap.org/content/mitch-stacy