COLUMBUS – Every Ohio State football game is a mixture of the old and the new, but OSU’s 58-0 win over Rutgers on Saturday might have been more so than most of them.
A few minutes before kickoff, 85-year-old former Ohio State football coach Earle Bruce dotted the “I” in Script Ohio during the band’s pre-game performance.
Then, once the game turned one-sided in the second half, some of the youngest Buckeyes got their first chances to show what they could do when the games were being played for real.
Part of that, of course, was that Rutgers was not very good. So lots of Ohio State players who don’t usually get on the field on Saturdays played early and in the last 19 or 20 minutes of the game.
But that wasn’t the whole story. While young guys like Mike Weber, Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore and others have proved themselves to be very capable replacements for the 16 starters who left after last season, the talent level might run deeper than just the starting lineup.
Freshman running back Demario McCall ran for 85 yards on 10 carries. Another freshman, Antonio Williams, who came in as a more highly rated prospect than McCall, got 28 yards on six carries in his first appearance this season.
Receivers Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack and Alex Stump all caught the first passes of their careers. Sophomore Terry McLaurin had the first touchdown catch of his career.
Victor’s playing time was especially interesting. Last Monday, OSU coach Urban Meyer said he was very close to playing him instead of redshirting him.
Considering the number of receivers who had already played for OSU this season and the fact Meyer had said the same thing during Sam Hubbard and K.J. Hill’s redshirt seasons and not played them, this was met with some skepticism. But Victor entered the game in the first half.
“We felt like it was time,” Ohio State offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said about playing Victor.
“I have not been on a team with this much depth at the skill positions. That’s the challenge we have is how to distribute the ball and try to make sure everybody gets opportunities, especially the guys who have earned it,” he said.
Junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan said, “We recruit the best players across the nation. In practice, those guys are going against the best and develop and get better. It shows up on Saturdays.”
STILL NOT ZEKE: Meyer couldn’t resist telling redshirt freshman Mike Weber that he’s still not Ezekiel Elliott, even though his first four starts have been more productive than Elliott’s first four in 2014 were.
When a reporter complimented Weber during Meyer’s postgame press conference for breaking two long runs on Saturday, he said, “He got caught on one. The guy we had last year wouldn’t have got caught. I’m going to use that.”
But then he added, “He’s getting better and better. He’s improving.”
Weber said he is much more relaxed now than he was in his first start.
“The first game my heart was pounding. Now I just play football. It’s a game I love, a game I’ve been playing all my life,” he said.
WHAT RECORD?: Quarterback J.T. Barrett said he was not aware he was close to breaking the Ohio State record for touchdown passes in a career on Saturday.
The third of Barrett’s four TD throws on Saturday allowed him to pass Bob Hoying and Terrelle Pryor, who both had 57 in their careers.
“I’m not really a record guy. I didn’t know coming into the game I was about to break the record. It wasn’t like I was thinking I was going to throw a lot of touchdown passes today,” Barrett said.
“My redshirt year if you told me I’d be standing here talking about a Buckeyes record for touchdown passes, I’d have called you a liar,” he said.
NONES ARE ALL RIGHT: Ohio State’s shutout was its first since a 38-0 win over Hawaii last September.
OSU is the only FBS team which has not allowed a rushing touchdown this season.
The Buckeyes are 15-0 in the month of October in Meyer’s four seasons at OSU.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau