A grade card on Ohio State’s 45-31 win at Minnesota on Thursday in its football opener against a Big Ten opponent:
Quarterback C.J. Stroud had a first half that showed some of the challenges of being a first-time starter at that position. But with an ultra-efficient second half, when he completed five passes and four of them went for touchdowns of 70, 61, 56 and 38 yards, he showed some of the reasons why he won the No. 1 quarterback job.
Chris Olave caught two of those TD passes. Miyan Williams appears to have moved ahead of Master Teague at running back and gained 125 yards rushing, including a 71-yard touchdown run.
But the running back who showed why he is a player to watch is freshman TreVeyon Henderson. He accelerated through Minnesota’s defense like they were standing still when he turned a short swing pass into a 70-yard touchdown. And he averaged 7.5 yards per carry on his two rushing attempts.
The offensive line did not allow a sack even though starting center Harry Miller was listed as unavailable.
Ohio State’s back seven needs to improve and could face another challenge when Oregon comes to Ohio Stadium next Saturday with talented and experienced running backs and wide receivers.
Minnesota had 408 yards total offense, including 163 yards by Mohamed Ibrahim in less than three quarters because he left the game because of a leg injury. Ibrahim led the Big Ten in rushing last season.
Defensive end Zach Harrison had a strip sack that resulted in a touchdown by Haskell Garrett on a play that helped turn the momentum in the game OSU’s way.
Kicker Noah Ruggles’ reputation at North Carolina before transferring to Ohio State was that he did his best work inside 40 yards. He made a 35-yarder in his only attempt against Minnesota. Punter Jesse Mirco was solid with two punts for a an average of 43.0 yards per kick.
The Buckeyes will get better. The standards are set high at Ohio State. It looks like the offense is ahead of the defense right now.