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A new team, a new season. Ohio State opened the 2016 season Saturday when they hosted the Bowling Green Falcons. The Buckeyes entered the game as one of the most inexperienced teams in the country, but with Urban Meyer at the helm, Ohio State was ranked sixth in the country in the initial AP Top 25 poll.
The opening game for the Buckeyes started off with a defensive stop on Bowling Green’s first drive that set the tone early defensively. But once Ohio State got the ball things took a turn for the worse. J.T. Barrett threw a pick six just a couple of plays into the first drive, and the Falcons took an early 7-0 lead over the Buckeyes. On the next drive, Mike Weber got things started with a first down run that showed off his speed and power. A few plays later, Barrett found receiver K.J. Hill speeding past a defensive back for a 47-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7.
A 12-play drive by Ohio State the next time they had the ball saw plenty of sustained running by both Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel as well as plenty of wide receivers getting a chance to have the ball in their hands. The drive would result in another touchdown pass from J.T. Barrett as he found Dontre Wilson for 25 yards and a 14-7 lead for the Buckeyes. The defense continued to do it’s job, forcing another punt. The fireworks started almost right away as Barrett found Samuel in the middle of the field as he burned the secondary for a 79-yard bomb to put Ohio State up 21-7.
After some back and forth, Bowling Green would eventually put together a drive into Ohio State’s red zone but another stop by the defense helped hold the Falcons to a field goal to make it 21-10. Weber continued his strong performance with another first down run that set up an excellent 25-yard touchdown catch from Noah Brown for J.T. Barrett’s fourth touchdown of the game. Malik Hooker then provided a game highlight with an interception on the following drive and the Buckeyes took the momentum in stride. Another long drive filled with plenty of sharing, the touchdown run up the middle was a keeper by J.T. Barrett to put Ohio State up 35-10 right before the end of the half.
The second half proved to be just as fortunate for the Buckeyes. Ohio State got to work quickly as J.T. Barrett found Curtis Samuel twice for long plays, the latter coming on a 21-yard touchdown pass. Another stop by the defense helped set up yet another Curtis Samuel touchdown, this time coming on an option pitch for 12 yards to put the Buckeyes up 49-10. Another Malik Hooker interception would set up Ohio State and a touchdown reception for Dontre Wilson, his second of the day. The backups were sent in after Ohio State took a 56-10 lead late in the third quarter.
Demario McCall would turn on the jets early in the fourth quarter as he took a pass 36 yards for a touchdown to up the lead to 63-10 for the Buckeyes. Nick Bosa would get his first career sack on the defensive end to put an exclamation point on a great defensive day for Ohio State. McCall would continue his excellent second half as he would weave his way into the endzone for another touchdown with just over six minutes remaining. To finish off the Falcons, the Buckeyes would add to their lead with a pick six from Rojay Burns, a true freshman for Ohio State.
Here are three things we learned from Ohio State's 77-10 win.
3 things we learned:
1. The wide receiving core is deep and talented. One of the more interesting positions entering the 2016 season was wide receiver, having to replace guys like Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, and Braxton Miller. Against Bowling Green, Ohio State proved that its depth at the position is quite loaded. In the first half alone, six different players caught a pass from J.T. Barrett. Noah Brown and K.J. Hill both caught touchdowns in the first half as well, while Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson added touchdown receptions of their own, Samuel’s coming on a short throw turned into a speeding Samuel outrunning the defense. Johnnie Dixon and Marcus Baugh also got involved in the action with a handful of receptions between the two.
James Clark provided what would have been a highlight, almost coming up with an excellent catch but it was later overturned by the replay crew. Still, a year after injuries ravaged a lot of the depth chart, the multiple receivers on the roster are proving they have the talent that coach Meyer and the coaching staff have raved about. Certainly wide receivers coach Zach Smith is excited about this group.
K.J. Hill kept things going in the second half as he provided another reception to the teams total. A.J. Alexander, the backup tight end, would get a short reception for three yards as well from Joe Burrow. Overall, the unit should put some nerves to ease, as they had a strong performance that they can only build upon moving forward.
2. The Mike Weber-Curtis Samuel show has started. If anyone was worried about the transition from Ezekiel Elliott to the next era in Ohio State running backs, they shouldn’t be anymore. Mike Weber was named the starter later in the offseason and ever since his breakout spring game, has been a talking point among the coaching staff as being a playmaker for this team. Weber showed up in a big way against Bowling Green, rushing for 94 yards on 11 carries in the first half. Weber showed off both his bounciness from getting off tacklers and also some nice bursts of speed.
Samuel, meanwhile, was hailed by Meyer as being the "guy" on this team when it came to needing to give him the ball as the main playmaker. Meyer lived up to his word as Samuel caught a pass and took it 79 yards for a touchdown in the first half and provided plenty of mini highlights when rushing the ball with 67 yards in the first half. Expect to see plenty of Samuel over the course of the season with the ball in his hands and making big plays.
It didn’t stop in the second half, as Samuel added more receptions and another touchdown catch from Barrett. His explosions all day long have to have the team excited about the rest of the season. Weber hit over the century mark early on in the second half and finished the day with 19 carries and 136 yards rushing. He didn’t get into the endzone for the game, but Samuel made up for that end. Samuel would finish with 13 carries for 84 yards and a rushing touchdown. He also added two touchdown receptions along with eight receptions for 168 yards.
3. J.T. Barrett scored and scored and didn’t stop. J.T. BACK. The junior quarterback was the unquestioned starter entering the season and Barrett has delivered in his first game of the year. In the first half alone, Barrett accounted for all five of Ohio State’s touchdowns with four of those coming through the air. His fifth came on the ground at the end of the first half. After shaking off an early interception for a touchdown, Barrett stood in the pocket and sliced up the Bowling Green defense accordingly. One of the more impressive things about Barrett in this game was his ability to spread the ball around.
Not many teams have the luxury of having talent across the board but Barrett made sure to showcase what the Buckeyes have on their roster, finding six different receivers and running backs in the first half alone and making plays with both his legs and his arm. Barrett would throw for two more touchdowns in the second half, finding Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson each.
Barrett would give way to Joe Burrow late in the third quarter, ending his day. Barrett would finish 21-of-31 passing for 349 yards and six touchdowns, adding another touchdown on the ground. He also carried the ball six times for 30 yards. All in all, it was an impressive start to the season for Barrett, as he hopes to lead Ohio State back to the College Football Playoff.