COLUMBUS – Northwestern’s sermon came a day early, when Ohio State running back Trey Sermon sent a clear message to the Wildcats on Saturday in the Big Ten Championship game, that he could not be stopped.
The Buckeyes struggled offensively throwing the ball early on, but they found the answer in Sermon. It was Sermon who put the team on his back and carried them to a victory.
He finished the game with 331 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns, averaging 11.4 yards per carry.
In the first half, Sermon rushed for 60 yards on seven attempts as the Buckeyes tried to work through the struggles in the pass game. In the second half, Sermon rushed for 271 yards.
“He ran hard,” head coach Ryan Day said following the game. “He ran with a different look in his eye.”
Not only was it a career day for Sermon, but he broke Eddie George’s record for the most single game rush yards in Ohio State history. George set the record of 314 yards on 36 carries that has been untouched since 1995.
Sermon’s 331 rush yards are also the most by any player in any conference championship game in FBS history.
His previous career-day came when he was at Oklahoma in 2018 and he racked up 206 yards against Texas Tech.
After transferring from Oklahoma and arriving at Ohio State this past off-season, Sermon knew he would be coming to a running back room that featured Master Teague III. Teague has been the go-to guy for the majority of the season, with Sermon averaging 11 carries per game as compared to Teague’s average of about 18 carries per game.
But Sermon had also been getting more comfortable finding his role in the Buckeye offense as the season progressed. His previous best game with the Buckeyes was against Michigan State where he carried for 112 yards on 10 carries. That was also the first time he had a big breakout run that was for 64 yards.
After scoring a touchdown in that game, Sermon tapped the top of his wrist, signaling that it was time… and when the Buckeyes needed him the most after Teague went down on Saturday, Sermon was sensational.
“This is another guy who has overcome adversity, there was a time probably after week two, week three that we really weren’t sure what’s going on, maybe not hitting the holes right, doesn’t have a lot of confidence, we didn’t know Trey,” Day said. “So we weren’t sure exactly what we had there and to see him persevere through all of that and to play the way he did in this game and break records, it’s tremendous, and against a good run-stopping defense.”
Northwestern had been successful stopping the run all season, creating an identity around its defense. The Wildcats have held three teams to fewer than 100 rushing yards, and surrendering only two rushing touchdowns all season, the fewest in the FBS. But Sermon was just too much.
Sermon, however, credits his offensive lineman for making his job easy.
“Those guys played their tails off, they played hard from start to finish and I’m just grateful,” Sermon said. “They made my job easy, moving the line of scrimmage, controlling it, and dominating up front.”
Though bits and pieces of Sermon’s game had become evident throughout the season, his performance on Saturday was the complete picture that he wanted to paint for himself as a Buckeye running back. Sermon is now a Big Ten Champion, MVP, and Ohio State all-time record holder.
[Photo courtesy of Ohio State Football Twitter]