Stroud struggled early on in Week 1 against Minnesota, before turning it on in the second half and finishing with 294 yards and four touchdowns. His numbers against Oregon—35-for-54 for 484 yards and three touchdowns (with a pick)—were quite good, but any loss for Ohio State is seen as a major issue. He threw for just 185 yards and a score against Tulsa, and missed the team’s game against Akron. Kyle McCord stepped in and threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns in the 59-7 win.
Day stuck with Stroud as the starter when he was available again, and it paid off with a 52-13 win over Rutgers. Stroud was spectacular, throwing for 330 yards on 17-of-23 passing, with five touchdowns and no picks. OSU may have a loss already, but as we saw in 2014, that doesn’t mean they can’t make a run at the College Football Playoff.
Top performing PLAYERS WEEK 5:@HawkeyeFootball D@GeorgiaFootball D
Willis @LibertyFootball pic.twitter.com/cZAYaYY92G
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) October 4, 2021
“C.J. Stroud — you remember, he went out and Kyle McCord stepped in and won the Big Ten Freshman of the Week in a game that he didn’t play in. I think there were some murmurs, locally, about, ‘Wow, maybe this guy’s the answer,'” Herbstreit said on the podcast, via 247. “And Stroud took some shots because he played against Oregon…”
Herbstreit was impressed with Stroud’s performance against a much-improved Rutgers defense, that held Michigan to just 20 points earlier in the year. He acknowledged that the Buckeyes defense has some concerns, but thinks the offense, which is now rolling with Stroud under center, dangerous receivers in Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and an emerging superstar running back in TreVeyon Henderson.
“I would just say be careful, because this is going to be an offense — I said this to (David) Pollack on GameDay — you can say whatever you want about their issues on defense. This team’s going to score 45 a game, minimum, every game. And Stroud is their guy. (True freshman running back) TreVeyon Henderson’s a freak. They’ve got the best trio of receivers in the country. Don’t write off Ohio State.”
In four games, Stroud, who did not play before this year, is completing 64.5-percent of his throws, for 1,293 yards, 13 touchdowns, and three interception. Henderson leads the backfield with 54 rushes for 510 yards and seven touchdowns, and the Buckeyes as a whole have been very balanced, with 1,097 rushing yards and 11 scores to go with 1,681 total yards through the air.
If they run the table and win the Big Ten, we’re probably going to see Ohio State football in the College Football Playoff once again.