The visiting Buckeyes were holding on to a 21-16 lead early in the fourth quarter against a Rutgers team that had yet to lose at home. Faced with a third-and-9 at their own 26-yard line, OSU quarterback Kyle McCord dropped back, looked at his options past the sticks, and then quickly dropped it off to running back TreVeyon Henderson three yards down the field.
And then the fun began.
Henderson caught the ball in the middle of the field at a complete stop. He then immediately turned to the right and began the race to the imaginary first-down marker in his mind. Problem was, there were three Rutgers defenders sharing the same imagination.
Henderson then kicked it out towards the sideline a bit, picking up the first down with ease.
And then more fun began.
Henderson beat four defenders to the sideline 20 yards downfield. He stayed on the edge for another 20 yards or so before cutting it back inside, breaking free at the RU 30-yard line. He was almost in the clear but a defender swiped at his feet around the 12-yard line and he finally went to the ground nine yards from paydirt.
It went down as a 65-yard strike from McCord to Henderson in the box score, but it was actually a 3-yard pass that featured 62 yards of what makes TreVeyon Henderson one of the most dangerous players in the nation.
On a roster of difference makers, nobody made more of a difference for the Buckeyes in Saturday’s 35-16 win than Henderson. He led the team with 128 yards rushing on 22 attempts — scoring once, and he also led Ohio State with five receptions for 80 yards.
It was the second week in a row that he went over 200 yards of total offense for the Buckeyes.
Henderson missed the three games prior to his return at Wisconsin eight days ago. Without him in the lineup, the Buckeyes are a different team — and not in a good way.
Overall, they’re in the middle of the Big Ten pack in rushing, averaging 134.3 yards on the ground per game. In the three games without Henderson, however, that number drops to 97.7. With him in the lineup, meanwhile, the Buckeyes are averaging 152.7 yards rushing per game.
The average yards per carry jumps from 2.6 without him to 4.8 with him.
Henderson also keeps the Buckeye offense on schedule. He is a homerun hitter who also hits for average — and he can steal a few bases for you as well.
The homerun-hitting ability has been on display in his last three games. Against Notre Dame, he went 61 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter to give the Buckeyes a 10-0 lead. Henderson was injured in that game and missed his next three contests. He returned against Wisconsin and had three rushes of at least 20 yards, two of which went beyond 30 yards.
On Saturday at Rutgers, not only did Henderson go 65 yards on one dump-off pass, but he also had rushes of 27 and 20 yards.
He is playing his best football right now, and reminding everybody why he was a Heisman favorite going into his sophomore season a year ago. Last year was sidetracked by injuries, and while he has had to deal with injuries once again, he’s never been more on track than he is right now.
This has not been the typical Ohio State offense. The Buckeyes are scoring just 32.8 points per game this season, which is their lowest mark since 2011. It is also looking like this will be the first year since Ryan Day arrived at OSU in 2017 that the Buckeyes will average less than 40 points per game.
But with TreVeyon Henderson, the Ohio State offense has a guy who can provide points at any time and from anywhere. This team may not score as much as Buckeye teams of the past, but the danger remains.
Henderson can make everyone around him better. He is the area rug that ties the whole room together. He is human feng shui.
He gives the Buckeyes a chance.
And in a close game, a chance can make all the difference.