Stroud tosses 6 TDs, No. 5 Ohio St blows out No. 7 Mich St

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – C.J. Stroud lit up No. 7 Michigan State early and gave his coach the rare luxury of being able to let his mind wander to next week’s showdown with Michigan.

Stroud tied a school record with six touchdown passes — all in the first half — as No. 5 Ohio State bolted out to a 49-point halftime lead on the way to a startling 56-7 rout Saturday that eliminated the Spartans (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten, No. 7 CFP) from the Big Ten East race.

Next up for the Buckeyes (10-1, 8-0, No. 4 ) is the annual rivalry game and hatefest against No. 8 Michigan that carries even greater meaning this year – the winner will claim the division, advance to the conference championship game on Dec. 4 and stay alive for the College Football Playoff.

“We’ve got everything riding on this thing coming up right around the corner,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “And I got to tell you, the game wasn’t even over yet and I was thinking about it. There’s just so much going on here.”

Day should savor this one for at least a minute.

Stroud, who threw his first collegiate football pass less than three months ago, was 32 for 35 for 432 yards against the Spartans’ sketchy pass defense, which had allowed more yards through the air than any in major college football.

The redshirt freshman completed 17 straight passes, setting an Ohio State record, and positioned himself as maybe the Heisman Trophy favorite heading into the championship stretch of the season.

“My O-line did a great job the whole game,” he said. “I was back there chilling, in a sense.”

This is Stroud’s third 400-yard game in 10 career starts and his fourth game with at least five touchdown passes.

“You can see our capability,” Day said. “We’re playing really good football, clean football. We have a high ceiling.”

The Buckeyes scored on all seven first-half possession before backing off.

“We got blasted,” Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said. “We were not able to eliminate the explosive plays on defense and were not able to execute on offense.”

Michigan State Heisman hopeful Kenneth Walker III, the nation’s leading rusher, was turned into a nonfactor by the Buckeyes. Walker, who rolled his ankle in last week’s win over Maryland, had just six carries for 25 yards.

“He’s a little banged up right now, so we’re going to use the guys who can go,” Tucker said.

100-YARD TRIO

The Buckeyes’ top three receivers eclipsed the 100-yard mark and caught touchdown passes. Chris Olave had seven catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Garrett Wilson grabbed seven for 126 and a pair of scores, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba had 10 receptions for 105 yards and a TD.

Olave, a senior who played his last game in Ohio Stadium, broke the school record for career touchdowns with 35, one more than David Boston (1996-98).

“I came in a three-star (recruit), the lowest in my class, I think,” Olave said. “I didn’t know it would come to this day, but I just kept my head down and kept working to try and maximize my potential here, and I feel like I’ve done that.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Michigan State: The Spartans, who knocked off top-10 rival Michigan three weeks ago, weren’t just sent tumbling from the Big Ten East playoff picture, they were demoralized. They’ve shown great improvement this season under second-year coach Tucker, but are not yet in Ohio State’s class.

Ohio State: Can anybody slow down the Buckeyes? The offense scored touchdowns on all seven first-half possessions, until Day called off the charge. The defense forced a couple of first-half turnovers that aided the avalanche. The Buckeyes scored 50 points for the sixth time this season.

QUOTABLE

“You always can remember days like this,” Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne said. “I’ll remember the feeling for a long time, coming in here and playing like we did.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The impressive win could bump the Buckeyes up the rankings, with another spotlight game next week in Ann Arbor. Michigan State, with a second loss, will tumble.

UP NEXT

Michigan State: Hosts Penn State in season finale.

Ohio State: Wraps up the season with the annual clash with Michigan.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.