COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sure, No. 13 Ohio State played great in beating Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights also thought they contributed a lot to their own demise.
"People who've watched us play this year know that when we play well we can compete with anybody," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said after the 56-17 defeat Saturday. "If you don't play well, unfortunately, this is the kind of game that you end up in when you play really talented teams."
The Buckeyes rolled to a quick 14-0 lead and then broke the game open with a defensive touchdown in the second quarter before reeling off 21 quick points to turn the game into a rout.
"There was a lot of self-inflicted stuff, stuff that we hadn't been doing all year that we did today for some reason," said quarterback Gary Nova.
Nova, who completed 17 of 28 passes for 192 yards, was intercepted by Doran Grant in the Ohio State end zone late in the half. Just before that, a fumble helped turn the game around.
The Scarlet Knights (5-2, 1-2 Big Ten), who had won three in a row, were still in it down 21-7 midway through the second quarter.
Nova flipped a pass on first down deep in his own territory to Janarion Grant in the left flat but he was hit by Lee and then really got cracked by backup defensive end Rashad Frazier. Grant lost the ball as he was going down, with Eli Apple — a New Jersey native who almost went to his home-state school — scooping up the loose ball and trotting the final 4 yards.
"The margin of error is so small and they took advantage of it," defensive end David Milewski said.
The Buckeyes (5-1, 2-0) surely are on a roll. They've averaged 56 points in a four-game win streak since losing at home to Virginia Tech on Sept. 6.
"I'm focusing on getting the offense better every week and keeping this thing rolling," the freshman said.
Barrett seldom made a mistake, it seemed.
The Buckeyes — averaging 614 yards per game over their win streak — amassed 585 total yards. They scored on their first three possessions — with Barrett going 8 for 8 passing — and the outcome was never really in doubt again.
He hit Nick Vannett on scoring tosses of 12 and 31 yards, the latter on a perfect lead pass over the middle before the backup tight end lumbered to the end zone. In between, Elliott carried four times in a 74-yard march that he capped with a 1-yard plunge.
After the fumble return by Apple, Barrett ran for two TDs and passed for another in the third quarter.
"He's a really talented player, and you'd better be on point or you're not going to get him on the ground," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said.
The victory was Ohio State's 18th in a row in the Big Ten, drawing within two of tying the conference mark set by the 2005-07 Buckeyes.
Rutgers' Desmon Peoples carried 15 times for 83 yards and touchdowns of 1 and 12 yards.
It was the worst loss in 12 years for Rutgers (5-2, 1-2), which had a three-game winning streak end before the largest crowd ever to see the Scarlet Knights play (106,795).
Flood could only shake his head at the stat sheet.
"That's the best team we've played this season," he said.
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