COLUMBUS — This is what a top-ranked team is supposed to look like.
Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord played the best game of his career. Star receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. racked up three more touchdowns in his Heisman Trophy charge.
And the Buckeyes flexed their No. 1-ranking in a 38-3 pounding of Michigan State at Ohio Stadium.
Coach Ryan Day’s team scored touchdowns on five of six first-half possessions and moved to 10-0 overall, 7-0 in the Big Ten after blitzing the Spartans (3-7, 1-6) in little more than a scrimmage.
“When we’re playing complementary football like that, that’s what we can be,” Day said. “We’re starting to forge our identity.
“We’re starting to play with more confidence.”
Next week’s date with Minnesota should be another tune-up in a season that is coming down to a monumental showdown at undefeated, third-ranked Michigan on Nov. 25.
Both ancient rivals have proven to be, by far, the class of the conference.
“We’ve got to keep building on the momentum we have and keep building our confidence,” Day said. “We get everybody on the field together and the defense is playing complimentary football with the offense, that’s what we’re looking for.”
The maturation process of McCord’s first full season as a starter found a new level in this outing. The junior from New Jersey was 24-of-31 for 335 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.
“The biggest thing for us as an offense was just to execute,” McCord said. “I feel like we did a good job of coming out and starting fast and putting points on the board … overall we did our thing on offense.
“In November we’ve got to be playing our best ball and I think we’re getting better every single week and I think the biggest thing now is just finishing the year strong.”
Harrison caught seven passes for 149 yards and two TDs. He also added a 19-yard scoring run on a reverse that he described as the favorite of his three touchdowns.
Tight end Cade Stover got back on track after being hobbled by an injury the past couple of weeks, the Lexington graduate hauled in seven catches for 79 yards and a TD.
It all added up to 530 yards of total offense.
“I’m spoiled,” McCord said. “The guys up front making holes for the running game, pass protecting, we were firing on all cylinders.”
Defensively, the Buckeyes allowed just 182 yards as Michigan State converted only 2-of-14 third-downs and posed almost no threat to score.
‘We want to be playing our best football down the stretch,” Day said. “A lot of big games ahead and we want to be playing championship football.
“We showed signs of that today.”
Next week figures to be more of the same when the Gophers (5-5, 3-4) roll into town as little more than an hors d’oeuvre before the regular-season finale in Ann Arbor.
“It’s the biggest game of the year every year, it’s not any different,” Day said of the date at Michigan. “We know what’s coming down the tubes. We’ve just gotta keep grinding to get better.
“It’s all going to climax at the end of the season and our guys have been working towards that, looking forward to that for a long time.”
The photos below are courtesy of The Ohio State University.