COLUMBUS — Ohio State’s 49-10 win over Rutgers on Saturday revealed a few more things that have been learned about the Buckeyes in their five straight wins to start the season.
They’ve showed they can play their style and beat you. Now they’ve showed they can play your style and beat you.
They’ve proved they can win when quarterback C.J. Stroud is on fire. And now they’ve proved they can also win when his heat level is more like a low boil.
They’ve proved their starters are very good. And they’ve consistently proved that if one or more of the starters can’t go, their replacements can step in without missing a beat.
Saturday, it was running back Miyan Williams who stepped in, stepped up and even high stepped a little on a 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Williams, who had shared the running back duties almost equally with starter TreVeyon Henderson in OSU’s first four games, found out in pre-game warm-ups that he would be starting and Henderson would not be able to play.
The third-year running back delivered the best game of his career when he ran for 189 yards on 21 carries and scored five touchdowns. His five touchdowns tied a record for most touchdowns by an Ohio State running back in a game held by Keith Byars and Pete Johnson.
“I had six touchdowns in a game in high school but I never would have thought I would have a game like this,” Williams said.
“I found out right before the game. I looked in his eyes and told TreVeyon, ‘I got you,’ ” he said.
Ohio State’s passing game had its least productive outing of the season, with Stroud completing 13 of 22 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
Rutgers’ game plan was a factor in that limited production. On offense, the Scarlet Knights huddled, used as much of the play clock as they could on each snap and had nearly twice as many running plays as passing plays.
Defensively, they played their safeties deep and tried to cut down on the deep passes OSU had torched Toledo and Wisconsin with. OSU had only 59 offensive plays and Rutgers had 56.
“It’s hard to get style points when you’re playing that style of game,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “One thing about our team is they’re good with that. Talk to the guys on defense and they love it. The guys on offense, that style isn’t the best but they understand winning is the most important thing.”
No. 3 Ohio State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) led 28-7 at halftime and was in control of the game the rest of the way.
Williams’ 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter right after Rutgers had kicked a field goal to cut the lead to 28-10 was the most exciting play of the second half.
But the most interesting one might have been when Ohio State punter Jesse Mirco took off running instead of punting halfway through the fourth quarter and took a hard shot out of bounds in front of the Buckeyes’ bench.
There was some pushing and shoving by players on both teams and Rutgers coach Greg Schiano and Day had a pretty intense discussion about it. Rutgers’ Aron Cruickshank was flagged for a personal foul and ejected and Schiano and Day were both hit with unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
“They were coming after the punt. He (Mirco) just saw it and took it. Then he took that shot on the sideline. It was just one coach defending his player and another defending his player. No hard feelings at all,” Day said.
“I grabbed him (Mirco) and said, ‘What happened?’ He said, ‘I rolled out to the right and nobody was on me.’ I said, ‘OK, we’ll talk about it tomorrow.’ ”
Ohio State led 28-7 at halftime, led by Williams’ 91 yards rushing on 15 carries and three touchdowns and a defense that held Rutgers to 90 yards total offense in the first two quarters.
OSU played without leading receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and starting cornerback Cam Brown for the second game in a row in addition to not having Henderson.
Rutgers took a 7-0 lead, its first lead over Ohio State since joining the Big Ten in 2014, with the help of a fumble at the Buckeyes’ 18-yard line by Emeka Egbuka as he attempted to field a punt.
Three plays after the fumble Rutgers quarterback Evan Simon connected with Sean Ryan for a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Rutgers attempted an onside kick after the touchdown but OSU recovered the football at the Scarlet Knights’ 48-yard line.
Five plays later Ohio State tied the game at 7-7 on the first of Williams’ three touchdowns, on a 2-yard run.
OSU went up 14-7 with 4:10 left in the first quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by Williams at the end of a 9-play, 74-yard drive.
A strip sack by Zach Harrison set Ohio State up in Rutgers’ territory again at the 49-yard line in the final minute of the first quarter.
Two plays later Stroud tossed a 36-yard touchdown pass to Julian Fleming on the second play of the second quarter to make it 21-7. The Buckeyes added a fourth TD on a 1-yard run by Williams with 48 seconds left in the first half.
OSU’s second-half scores came on two touchdown runs by Williams and a 4-yard pass from Stroud to Marvin Harrison Jr.
Rutgers dropped to 3-2 and 0-2 in the Big Ten with the loss.
After opening the season with five consecutive home games, Ohio State will get its first road test at Michigan State on Saturday.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.