This much anticipated game had the early makings of a shootout, surprising no one as both defensive secondaries struggled to stop the opponent's offensive firepower. Cincinnati started out quickly, connecting on a 60-yard touchdown throw from Gunner Kiel to Chris Moore and jumping on the Buckeyes, 7-0. From there, J.T. Barrett and the offense took over and calmly drove down the field, capping the drive with a two-yard touchdown run by Rod Smith to knot things up at 7.
Following Ohio State's equalizer, the Buckeyes would score 23 unanswered to lead the Bearcats, 30-7. Things looked to be well in hand until a Curtis Samuel fumble would swing momentum in favor of Cincinnati, who would go on to score two straight touchdowns to end the half, including an 83-yard touchdown pass to Chris Moore from Gunner Kiel again, this time with less than 30 ticks on the clock.
The second half looked like it would turn into a barn burner, as both offenses continued wreaking havoc. Two field goals by Ohio State kicker Sean Nuernberger would put Ohio State up 36-28 before Dontre Wilson would catch a pass from Barrett to give the Buckeyes a 43-28 lead. From that point on, it was just about all Ohio State. Barrett connected with Devin Smith on a 34-yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 50-28, effectively ending any hopes that Cincinnati had of upsetting the Buckeyes.
Three things we learned
1. Ezekiel Elliott isn't a star in the making; he's already here. The unquestioned player of the game finally had his breakout performance that Buckeye fans were looking for all season from the young running back. Elliott had 182 yards with 1 touchdown on 28 carries. Elliott was the clear-cut workhorse of the night, finally separating himself from the rest of the pack of Ohio State's running backs, including Curtis Samuel, who as mentioned had a costly fumble. Elliott had a slower start to the season than perhaps expected, but with his performance against the Bearcats, it could open up the floodgates for the rest of the season to have him serve as more of a feature back.
2. Ohio State's secondary is so 2013. Just when you think the secondary could be slowly improving, they revert back to what is quickly becoming the norm in recent years at Ohio State. The Buckeyes faced a good quarterback in Gunner Kiel, who ended up throwing over 300 yards passing for 4 touchdowns. Chris Moore also hauled in a handful of receptions for over 200 yards, averaging over 70 yards per reception. Vonn Bell looked lost at times, while Eli Apple was in charge of covering Moore on several occasions and struggled for much of the night. Chris Ash and the defensive coaching staff are going to have to find something that works, otherwise history will continue to repeat itself.
3. The offense is getting better each game. It feels like ages since the debacle against Virginia Tech. The Ohio State offense has been progressing through each game in all aspects. From J.T. Barrett continuing to gain confidence in control of the offense, throwing for four touchdowns and over 300 passing yards again, to the offensive line making large leaps and bounds from their dismal performance against the Hokies. With an amazing 45 first downs (a school record) the offense simply rolled with ease against Cincinnati, finishing with 710 yards of total offense. With the Big Ten schedule looming, the Buckeyes couldn't have picked a better time to get things rolling.