COLUMBUS — It would be impossible not to be impressed by Ohio State’s offensive performance in Saturday night’s 77-21 win over Toledo.
The Buckeyes scored 11 touchdowns and only punted once. Their 763 yards of total offense was just 13 yards shy of the school record. Eight players scored touchdowns in this game, and three of those eight scored twice.
Three Buckeyes went over 100 yards receiving (Emeka Egbuka 7-116, Marvin Harrison 6-102, Jayden Ballard 4-113) in the game, and for the first time this season, the Ohio State running game went over 200 yards rushing (281 yds).
And they did all of this while only getting four carries for 19 yards from starting running back TreVeyon Henderson.
“Overall impression is that they made some tough catches,” Toledo head coach Jason Candle said after the game. “How many balls tonight were caught where a receiver is extended and he has to get one foot inbounds? There were probably four or five of those, and a couple of touchdowns. I don’t feel like we did a good job of affecting the quarterback early on in the game with the pass rush. He was able to sit back there a little bit and made it hard and stressed those DBs to cover for as long as they had to cover. Tough, stiff challenge.”
Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud didn’t go untouched, but he did go unsacked. The lack of pressure was one big reason he completed 22-of-27 passes for 367 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran the ball a couple of times for good measure.
The Buckeyes were bolstered by the return of receivers Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming, and it showed. Head coach Ryan Day wanted his offense to get out to a fast start, which was one reason why he went against his own tendency and elected to receive the opening kickoff.
“Coach Day’s message this whole week was starting early and just trying to be more consistent with the ball when we start with the ball,” Stroud explained. “We came out and we connected on a couple of throws, and I think that got our juices rolling. I don’t think we punted until the third quarter, so I definitely think that we started early which was a great thing that we wanted to accomplish.”
It wasn’t just the fast start for the Buckeyes. It was also the strong finishes. Ohio State converted on 11-of-13 third downs, and one of the two third downs they missed, they converted on fourth down.
This is an offense that ran the ball for 281 yards and passed it for 482. They averaged 9.8 yards per play, which is generally going to make third downs easier to manage.
“They have a powerful front, they could run the ball in short yardage situations and they have an accurate quarterback,” Candle said. “All of that makes them tough to stop in those in those third-and-short situations. So yeah, that’s deflating. Deflating is a good term to use because you feel like you’ve got them stopped and they just push it through and there it goes and they’re back on schedule again.”
After it was all over, Candle could have fumed, but instead he simply gave credit where it was due. Toledo’s defense just didn’t have enough answers for what were incredibly difficult questions.
“This was a tremendous challenge tonight,” Candle said. “This was a top-five team in the country. A team that’s picked by many to win the national championship. As good of offensive skill as we’ll see and I’ve seen in my entire coaching career to this point in time, together. And it’s a well-coached group. A group that I have a ton of respect for. We kind of knew what we were getting ourselves into.”