After a weekend that saw numerous upsets to top-25 teams, the Ohio State Buckeyes may have been on upset alert entering their Saturday night, primetime matchup with the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Once the dust settled in Lincoln, Neb., the upset was nowhere close to happening as the Buckeyes prevailed 56-14 against the ‘Huskers—getting retribution for the loss at Memorial Stadium in 2011.
OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett tied a school record with seven touchdowns (5 passing, 2 rushing) and led the Buckeyes to TDs on all eight of the drives that he was in for. Barrett also ended the game on 27-of-33 passing for 325 yards. He rushed for 48 yards, too.
J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber also played prominent roles in the Buckeyes’ offensive performance. Dobbins lead the team on the ground with 106 yards on 12 carries. The freshman star also found the endzone via a 52-yard rush in the first quarter. Weber had 18 carries for 86 yards.
Nebraska’s defense had no answer at all for stopping Ohio State. Forty-one first downs were picked up by the Scarlet and Gray—the most ever allowed by a Cornhuskers’ team.
K.J. Hill led the receiving corps with seven catches for 80 yards and two TDs. Fellow wideout Terry McLaurin, and tight ends Marcus Baugh and Rashod Berry also caught scores.
On the other side, Tanner Lee passed for 303 yards and two scores for the Cornhuskers. However, at the half, Lee only had 96 yards of passing. The third quarter was the only time Nebraska scored in the game.
With the win, Ohio State is now tied with Nebraska for third most wins all time in FBS at 892, according to Winsipedia.
Let’s take a look at how this game went down.
Right off the bat, the penalty bug made an appearance; Blake Haubeil kicked the ball out of bounds on the opening kickoff—spotting Nebraska the ball on their own 35. However, the Cornhuskers didn’t do much with the extra yardage. They ended up going three and out.
A booming 58-yard punt in a swirling wind pinned the Buckeyes to their own 4. That wouldn’t be a problem, as a combination of Barrett passes and Dobbins rushes were enough to move the length of the field for some points. On the opening drive for OSU, Barrett went 4-of-5 for 22 yards, and helped convert on two third-down attempts; Dobbins went off for 67 yards on three attempts, including a 52-yard sprint down the near sideline—blowing past the Cornhusker defense for a touchdown. Campbell got a couple passes for six yards, but was shaken up on a huge hit on a screen play. He sat out for the latter part of the first drive.
On the ensuing kickoff, Haubeil had another doozy: he kicked the ball to the NEB 33. The yardage gift (again), wasn’t fully appreciated by the home team, as two rush plays for one yard and a Tanner Lee incompletion were all they could come up with on the drive, and another three-and-out was dialed up by the Cornhuskers.
After a holding call on the punt return, the Buckeyes started at their own 15. Once again, being pinned in their own territory wasn’t a problem for the Scarlet and Gray. This drive, their second, focused on the intermediate passing game and Mike Weber trucking his way forward. Barrett hit Johnnie Dixon in the middle of the field for a 13-yard gain, and on the next play, OSU moved 15 more yards down the field via a defensive pass interference call. Weber then made his presence known when he brushed off tacklers for a 23-yard carry. A few plays later, the drive seemed to take a mini-stall, as the Bucks faced a third-and-7 on the NEB 34. Barrett stepped back to pass, and had nothing. However, he shuffled up in the pocket and took off for the first down—getting it, and then breaking a tackle for a few more yards. Three plays later on a third-and-3 from the NEB 6, Barrett showed us again what he can do with his feet. A rollout yielded no open receivers, but Barrett found a seam in the near-side of the field, and sprinted into the endzone.
Ohio State leads 14-0 with 5:30 left in the first quarter.
Nebraska continued to struggle getting any momentum on offense. Their third drive brought them to the precipice of disaster. Another three-and-out was about to happen, but Lee found wide receiver JD Spielman on an out-route for 15 yards and a first down—their first of the game. A few plays later, a holding call on a Devine Ozigbo 17-yard carry stalled the drive. Nineteen yards were collected on the drive by the Cornhuskers before they had to punt it away.
Ohio State’s offense had figured out Nebraska’s defense. Barrett hit Austin Mack on the sideline for 22, and the Cornhuskers started to melt away. An illegal substitution call, followed shortly by an egregious pass interference call—Dicaprio Bootle pulled K.J. Hill down in the end zone without even looking at the ball—set the Buckeyes up inside the NEB 30. Granted, the home team got pressure on Barrett, but the all-time OSU passer just stepped up and found his guy. When pressure wasn’t applied, the Buckeyes had a field day. On this same drive, Barrett had time to throw to a wide open Hill, who then cut across the Cornhusker red zone for a touchdown.
At the 13:37 mark in the second quarter, the Buckeyes held a 21-0 lead.
Sensing a theme here? Nebraska went on another three-and-out, which opened the door for another drive where OSU put the pedal to the metal. The fourth drive for the Buckeyes ended the same way as the other three. This time, Weber and mid-range passes from J.T. were the theme of the drive. Ultimately, Barrett went up top to Terry McLaurin for a 31-yard TD.
The blowout in Lincoln was well on its way. However, a last ditch effort by the flagship school of the Cornhusker State was coming up. On their best drive of the first half, Big Red converted two first downs; one of them came off a 38-yard completion to Spielman. Sitting on the OSU 40 and facing a fourth-and-5, Mike Riley decided to go for the first down. In reality, it was four down territory—and they needed some sort of momentum after being down by 28. While it was the right call, the pass was not. Nebraska turned the ball over on downs, and the floodgates were about to open up even more.
Starting at their own 40, Barrett conducted another scoring drive. The QB threw five completion (three of them leading to first downs), and commanded the operation for six more points. Barrett capped off the drive with a 3-yard scramble.
Ohio State pulled up 35-0 with 1:10 left in the half.
Searching for a prayer, Lee launched a hail mary to the end zone as the clock hit all zeroes. In a way that summed up the first half, the pass went through the hands of De’Mornay Pierson-El, who slipped in between the Buckeye defenders attempting to swat the ball down.
It was a shutout at the half. Something that doesn’t happen too often to a program like Nebraska. But then again, with numbers like these, it’s not too surprising.
Back from halftime, the Buckeyes went back to what they were doing best: moving down the field and scoring points. The opening drive of the half went through 75 yards of real estate. Weber was responsible for 18 of those yards, while Barrett collected 50 yards in the air. The touchdown was on a 16-yard connection to D-lineman turned tight end Rashod Berry.
At that point, Ohio State had put up 42 unanswered points on ‘Braska.
They wouldn’t get anymore unanswered, as the home crowd finally had something to cheer about after Lee hit Spielman for a 77-yard TD on the second play of the drive. It took seven drives, but the Cornhuskers finally put up points to avoid the shutout.
With 11:05 left in the third, OSU would get the ball back leading 42-7.
At this point in the evening, the audience at Memorial Stadium witnessed the Buckeyes go on six drives. All six ended with a TD. This pattern wouldn’t stop on the seventh drive.
Dobbins started with a 4-yard rush, but a personal foul on the ‘Huskers gave the Bucks 15 free yards on top of that. Four rushes amongst Dobbins, Weber and Barrett set up an 11-yard completion to C.J. Saunders. After that, a completion—roughly 14 yards— on the near-sideline to Marcus Baugh sealed the deal for points; after catching the pass, Baugh hustled the remaining few yards to the house.
OSU up 49-7 with 7:43 left in the third frame.
Whether the Buckeye defense took their foot off the gas or not, the Cornhusker offense moved down the field, again. OSU defensive back Kendall Sheffield opened up the drive with a P.I. call, spotting 13 yards to the home team. Ozigbo then got a 37-yard haul from Lee a couple plays later. A penalty and a few nitnoid yards later, Lee uncorked a dime. He hit Stanley Morgan, who was in stride, in the back of the end zone.
Buckeyes still held the lead, 49-14, with 5:44 left in the quarter.
The perfect score to drive ratio was in jeopardy on the seventh drive of the night for Ohio State. Faced with a fourth-and-9, Barrett had to make a play. Earlier in the drive a scamper by the QB to the sideline on a fourth-and-3 was enough for the first. While he didn’t run this one, Barrett hit a crossing (and wide open) Hill. Hill then blew past the one defender on the sideline en route to a 20-yard pickup. A personal foul—hands to the face—call on Carlos Davis gave up half of the remaining green before the end zone. That would take us to the end of the third frame.
Moving down the field is, like the spot, good. However, late-game injuries with a big lead are not. Offensive lineman Jamarco Jones went down two plays after the fourth down conversion. (In the last defensive series, Jalyn Holmes went down with an injury, and was helped off the field by trainers.)
After the Jones injury, Barrett went up to Hill on a corner route. Hill, like he has the whole night, had separation from his defender and caught the TD with no problem.
Eight drives. Eight touchdowns for the Buckeyes.
Down 56-14, the former Big 12 superpower was back on offense with 14:20 left in regulation.
Nobody would score the rest of the way, but with three seconds left, defenseman Haskell Garrett was helped off the field after sustaining an apparent leg injury.
The cherry on top, though, was the final play of the game. After Garrett was helped off the field, backup Nebraska QB Patrick O’Brien heaved a mini hail mary from the OSU 25 into the endzone. Defensive back Amir Riep was there to pick off the pass—the only turnover between the two teams.
Ohio State is on bye next week. After that, it’s a 3:30 p.m. meeting in Columbus, Ohio against the Penn State Nittany Lions on Oct. 28.