Quarterback CJ Stroud threw for 297 yards and five touchdowns, the defense gave up 289 yards and Lathan Ransom blocked a punt in hiking the team’s record to 10-0
Columbus, OH – Hands down, the biggest losers during a frigid, battleship gray Saturday that numbed noses, hands and feet had to be those poor Indiana Hoosiers.
The good news in Bloomington is that it’s finally basketball season.
And what about those poor ticket scalpers?
Talk about hard sells. Thousands of seats had no fannies in them. They shivered and hawked themselves hoarse for a loss.
There also was Fox Sports and its Big Noon Kickoff bunch that lost hundreds of thousands of viewers when they switched channels in search of other college football games after Ohio State scored touchdowns on four of its first six possessions.
Gus Johnson had almost no one to shout at.
Overall, it was yet another day for biding one’s time until the only game that really matters arrives in two weeks.
Things turned out pretty good for an Ohio State bunch that was without injured tailback TreVeyon Henderson, right tackle Dawand Jones, cornerback Denzel Burke and, once again, Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
The Buckeyes showed the College Football Playoff committee that they need to stay at No. 2 in the rankings ahead of Michigan with a 56-14 victory before an announced crowd of 103,888.
It snowed a little and the temperatures were in the 30s, but this was a lot better than the windstorm last week at Northwestern.
“That felt like a normal game other than the (failure on) short yardages – I felt like I wanted to bang my head against the wall,’’ head coach Ryan Day said. “I just thought we had a good rhythm to the game. We kept playing. Yeah, that felt more normal.’’
It was a catch-up day for Heisman Trophy quarterback CJ Stroud in making up for a flat-line statistical day last week. He completed 17 of 28 passes for 297 yards and five scores.
“It was a step in the right way,” Stroud said. “It felt good to be playing in some good weather. We moved the ball really well. It was really balanced.”
This ballgame, though, did bring about more hand-wringing for the running backs room when Miyan Williams was helped off the field and then carted to the locker room with a right leg injury minutes before halftime.
Williams had a career day going with 147 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown, on 15 carries. He was seen wearing a warmup suit in a walking boot and on crutches on the sideline in the second half.
The room is almost vacant with true freshman Dallan Hayden and receiver-turned-tailback Xavier Johnson being the only ones left standing.
“It didn’t look like, based on what we saw in the locker room, that it will be long term,’’ Day said of Williams’ injury.
The running backs have been taking turns getting injured, but the group has managed to be productive.
But there was more angst with more short-yardage failures on third-and-two twice and fourth-and-one once.
Except for Josh Fryar subbing for Jones, the offensive line had the same cast.
Now, on to the game details:
On Ohio State’s second possession, receiver Emeka Egbuka caught a 6-yard touchdown pass to end a six-play, 65-yard drive with 9 minutes, 42 seconds left in the first quarter.
Then it was a 14-yard touchdown run by Hayden on a 78-yard possession, a 58-yard pass play to Marvin Harrison Jr. and that 48-yarder by Williams.
The grandstands really cleared out after tight end Cade Stover caught a 1-yard touchdown pass with 9:33 left in the third quarter.
A blocked punt by Lathan Ransom and recovery by Caden Curry put the football at the 3 to set up that touchdown.
The score rose to 49-7 on a 12-yard touchdown catch by Stover and a sensational 71-yard touchdown run by Johnson.
The score that warmed everyone, though, was an 8-yard catch by Kamryn Babb in the middle of the four quarter. It was his first college touchdown.
This was a big deal and emotional because Babb, who was the No. 13 receiver recruit among high school receivers in 2017, has had four surgeries to rebuild torn anterior cruciate ligaments.
Teammates revere their captain. He is a four-time university scholar-athlete and a three-time Big Ten scholar.
There’s good reason why he wears the Block O.
“The last five years have been a long journey,” Babb said. “There were times when I was down and had a lot of questions. But God put people in my life who wouldn’t let me give up and it’s been a blessing. I couldn’t have done this without them.”
Babb dropped to his knees in the end zone and offered thanks. The Buckeyes drew a delay of game penalty because so many teammates were congratulating him as he attempted to get to the sideline.
“Ah, Kam. . . Kam,’’ Day said. “That’s nine months recovery time times four. That’s a long time to be in recovery and not being able to do something that you love. He never batted an eye. He said that (football) was what he wanted to do. He put his faith in God and felt that this was his journey. What happened today in the stadium was magic.’’
The defense was ferocious in giving up 11 first downs and 289 total yards, getting four sacks and going 3-for-17 on third down.
Linebacker Steele Chambers led with 10 tackles, followed by Ransom with nine.
“This year we’re bending, but we’re not breaking, end Jack Sawyer said. “We know that in football that teams will make plays – there are a ton of good teams and players out there – and that they will make big plays. We have to regroup and go on to the next play. There are a lot things that we can work on, but I think collectively we’re starting to beat to the same tune, making plays. The thing is, we’re figuring out the defense as we go along. Right now, I think we’re playing good football. It’s best to play good football in November.’’
No one is playing better than Ransom. He had 1 ½ sacks. Seven tackles were solos.
The man played with great focus because he thought his play last week wasn’t good enough.
“I didn’t like the way I played last week and came in with a different focus on the game,’’ he said. “The plays that I should have made and could have made. I had to fix that. I’m working to get better every day.’’
His biggest moment was the blocked punt.
Ransom credited special teams coach Parker Fleming for putting him in the correct spot.
“Man, I give all the love to Coach Fleming. He wrote that, dialed that punt block, mid-game and used it,’’ he said. “Every week we practice on not getting the punter. I’ve wanted to block a punt since I’ve been on punt block. Coach Parker saw a flaw in their protection and just gave me an opportunity to block it.’’
Before the block, Ohio State was playing well, but it hadn’t gotten much separation from the Hoosiers.
“That kind of flipped the game for us in the second half,’’ Day said.