Ohio State Buckeyes: 5 takeaways from a blowout win over Toledo

COLUMBUS -- Ohio State finished non-conference play with an offensive explosion against an in-state foe.

Toledo was expected to be one of the better Ohio colleges to oppose the Buckeyes in recent seasons, but the Rockets were no match for coach Ryan Day’s squad in a 77-21 win Saturday night.

“I thought offensively, we got into a good rhythm running,” Day said. “I thought we finished things off in the red zone well. We were physical up front, and I thought Toledo going in had a good front, and I still think they do.”

Here are five takeaways from the win:

1. Jaxon Smith-Njigba returned, but he was upstaged by others.

After missing the last two games with a hamstring injury, Ohio State’s record-setting junior receiver was in the lineup Saturday night and caught two passes for 33 yards.

Three of his fellow receivers scored two touchdowns apiece, though, and three of them had 100-yard receiving nights. Marvin Harrison Jr. had his second straight big game, hauling in six passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns while Emeka Egbuka led the Buckeyes with seven catches for 116 yards. Egbuka caught a touchdown pass and ran for another while Julian Fleming caught three passes for 23 yards and found the end zone twice in his season debut.

Late in the game, Jayden Ballard caught a 72-yard touchdown pass to put him over the century mark, too. He finished with 113, marking the second time Ohio State has had three 100-yard receiver in the same game. It also happened last season against Oregon.

ExplorePHOTOS: Ohio State vs. Toledo

2. Ohio State forced its first turnovers of the season.

After 10 quarters without a takeaway, Ronnie Hickman stepped in front of a pass over the middle and picked it off to end Toledo’s first possession of the third quarter.

Ohio State turned it into points when Mitch Rossi scored from a yard out four plays later.

In the fourth quarter, Javontae Jean-Baptiste forced a fumble Palaie Gaoteote recovered for takeaway No. 2.

The Buckeyes also had nine tackles for loss, including three sacks.

3. The defense had some miscues, though.

Talented Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn showed what he could do early when he scrambled to his right and tossed a 50-yard pass to Thomas Cluckey for a touchdown to close the Rockets’ first possession. He also threw a 40-yard touchdown pass and had a pair of 23-yard scrambles, the latter going for a touchdown.

The Detroit native finished with 153 yards passing and a team-high 70 yards rushing.

Toledo had four runs of 15 yards or more and three passes of more than 20 yards.

“Their quarterback was very athletic and made a lot of plays, and we’ve got to take a look at how we can contain the quarterback better than that,” Day said. “There were a few things there we got to clean up for sure.”

4. Ohio State finished the game with some personnel questions on the eve of the beginning of Big Ten play.

Star running back TreVeyon Henderson did not play after the first drive, and on the other side of the ball starting safeties Josh Proctor and Tanner McCalister did not play at all. Neither did defensive tackle Mike Hall Jr., and cornerback Cam Brown left game in second quarter.

Day said after the game Proctor, McCalister and Hall were available but held out for precautionary reasons. That was also the explanation for limiting the work for Smith-Njigba and Fleming.

He did not specify any ailments, as is his usual policy.

“There’s a handful of those kind of things that are going on, but we haven’t seen anything that we think is going to be long term so we’ll kind of regroup after tonight and figure out where everything’s at,” Day said. “But this was a situation with a lot of those guys that we just wanted to out of the abundance of caution make sure they were 100% before we put them in the game.”

5. Wisconsin is up next.

Ohio State jumps into Big Ten play with another night game at home on Saturday.

The Badgers beat New Mexico State 66-7 on Saturday, bouncing back from a deflating 17-14 defeat at the hands of Washington State a week earlier.

“Usually we wait till Sunday to move on to Wisconsin,” Day said. “We’ll do that as we leave the stadium tonight.”

Game ball

C.J. Stroud was nearly as sharp as he could be. The sophomore quarterback completed 22 of 27 passes for 367 yards and five touchdowns. Most of the scoring tosses came on throws into tight windows and saw his receivers reward him with highlight-reel catches.

Stat of the game

Ohio State piled up 763 total yards, second-most in school history. That included 482 yards through the air and 281 on the ground as the Buckeyes just missed the school record of 776 yards they had against Bowling Green in 2016.

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