Win or lose, every week there are a handful of Ohio State players who stood out above the rest.
Following the tradition of the helmet stickers that dates back to the days of Woody Hayes, Lettermen Row shares out our version of the award every week after the game for the best performers on offense, defense and special teams for the Buckeyes.
COLUMBUS — Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is special.
He makes routine plays with what seems like little effort. He makes incredible plays feel routine.
And when the Buckeyes gave up too much in the second half on defense and couldn’t find success with their running backs on the ground, Fields remained the constant. The Heisman Trophy favorite was spectacular yet again Saturday night in Ohio State’s odd 49-27 win over Rutgers inside Ohio Stadium.
But even with the incredible performance, one that pushed his touchdown total on the season even with his number of incompletions, Fields thinks he and the passing game can be better.
“I don’t think we’re at our peak right now,” Fields said. “I don’t think we have reached our full potential. So of course we’re going to continue to get better each and every week. I just hope we do that. Hopefully that’ll be enough.”
To any observer, it would seem that Fields can’t possibly be any better than how he’s playing right now. But to Ohio State coach Ryan Day, quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis and even Fields himself know that he can continue to get better as the Buckeyes season progresses. He’s been good, especially in the first halves of games this season.
The scary part? He is going to get better.
“I knew he had the potential to be [a generational talent],” Day said. “I still think he has the potential to be. I don’t think he’s there but he’s getting better every week. He puts the work in and he puts the time in and he understands what we’re trying to get done.”
Lettermen Row gave Fields another Buckeye Leaf for his clinical performance against Rutgers. But he wasn’t the only Ohio State star to stand out. We’re dishing them out after the Buckeyes dominate Rutgers with an impressive Big Ten win.
QB Justin Fields
Every time Justin Fields steps onto the football field, he becomes more impressive.
Pick a stat. Six total touchdowns. Four incompletions. A rushing score. Too many NFL-level throws to track.
Fields continues to dazzle for the Buckeyes, showing off his skillset with every snap he takes. Fields played more than he expected, and he put on a passing clinic in the time he was on the field with the starters. Ohio State has to enjoy the next few games with Fields, because he is certainly special for the Buckeyes.
LB Justin Hilliard
It’s hard to find a player with worse luck than Buckeyes sixth-year linebacker Justin Hilliard. The captain has dealt with injuries throughout his career and was on the unlucky end of a false-positive COVID-19 test that held him out of last week’s game against Penn State. Hilliard finally was on the field against Rutgers, and he showed why he was a five-star recruit six years ago.
Hilliard made a routine tackle in the open field and made it not-so-routine in the second quarter, stripping the ball away from a Rutgers wide receiver and diving on it for a forced fumble and fumble recovery. His huge play set the Buckeyes up with great field position, which they took advantage of with a touchdown drive. And it seemed to be a nice break for the senior who has had terrible luck during his career.
K Jake Seibert
Starting kicker Blake Haubeil injured his groin last week in the Buckeyes win over Penn State, and the Buckeyes missed two field goals inside of 30 yards because of it. While Haubeil is on the shelf, the Buckeyes turned to true freshman kicker Jake Seibert to handle extra points and field goals. Seibert was a perfect 7 for 7 on extra points, and he showed he can carry the load while Haubeil is temporarily sidelined. Ohio State didn’t need a reliable kicker in the blowout win over Rutgers, but it was an added bonus to get Seibert on the field for some game-action early in his Buckeyes career.