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J.T. Barrett, strong defense lead Ohio State past UNLV, 54-21

The Buckeyes had over 600 yards on offense and forced two turnovers, overwhelming the Rebels.

NCAA Football: UNLV at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

This might’ve been the return of the old J.T. Barrett, as the Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback had a half to remember in OSU’s 54-21 win against the UNLV Rebels inside the friendly confines of Ohio Stadium.

Barrett went 12-of-19 for 209 yards and five touchdowns on the afternoon. On his first throw of the game, the Buckeye QB hit wideout Parris Campbell, who proceed to run down the sideline for a 69-yard TD. Barrett also rattled off eight-straight completions in the first half.

The 106,187 people in attendance also saw some Buckeye history get made, too. Barrett only needed 94 yards to propel him above Bobby Hoying for second all-time in Ohio State passing. The only three-time captain for OSU football has thrown for a career total of 7,351 yards. In order to pass Art Schlichter for No. 1 all-time in the school history books, Barrett needs 197 more yards. On top of that, seven different receivers caught TD passes—a school and Big Ten record.

While Barrett paced the Buckeyes to a big lead earlier, that allowed for Dwayne Haskins to see extensive time on the field. The Buckeye backup, who moved up the depth chart after the injury to Joe Burrow, threw for two TDs. One of which was a bullet pass to wide receiver C.J. Saunders from 28 yards out. Haskins threw for 228 yards on the afternoon.

UNLV didn’t really get much momentum going on the road. Rebels QB Armani Rogers was sacked four times in the blazing heat inside The ‘Shoe, and threw two interceptions in the first half—and on consecutive passes no less. Those two picks were translated into 14 points for OSU, and by halftime, the Scarlet and Gray led 44-7.

On offense, the Buckeyes dominated. Urban Meyer’s squad had 664 total yards on offense, including 190 yards in the air and 474 on the ground. Breakout running back J.K. Dobbins averaged 6.8 yards per carry, and ended the afternoon with 95 yards on 14 attempts. Campbell led all Buckeye receivers with 105 yards and a score on three receptions.

Below is a full recap of the game:

UNLV got the opening kickoff, but could only bring it back to their own 13-yard line, as the Buckeyes special teams closed in a hurry. Quarterback Armani Rogers took a drilling on the first drive, as he was hurried, sacked and thrown around in the pocket by the Buckeye defense. The Rebels star receiver Devonte Boyd, who was leading the Mountain West in yards, was bottled up by the OSU defense. Boyd ended the game with three receptions for 48 yards.

The Rebels opening drive went for six plays and nine yards, before punting away. After a Dobbins rush to the left for eight, Barrett hit Parris Campbell on a screen for a very nice 69-yard touchdown. This wasn’t the first time Campbell found the house from a long way away—he scored from 74 yards out against the Indiana Hoosiers in Week 1.

Rogers went back to conduct the Rebels offense; this time around, they moved the ball (well, they had some help). On a 3rd-and-5 pass intended for Boyd, a defensive holding penalty was called on cornerback Kendall Sheffield. A little later on the drive, on 3rd-and-11, Rogers led his receiver, Kendal Keys, too far to make the catch. However, Sheffield wrapped his arm, albeit weakly, around the side of Keys’ head—drawing a pass interference flag.

Two OSU penalties on the drive kept UNLV’s hopes of getting points on the board. Ultimately, the Rebels had to settle for a 52-yard field goal attempt. While the kick was within the posts, it was too low, too short—and may have been tipped at the line.

Back on the move, Barrett drove the Buckeyes’ offense on their second series of the hot afternoon in Columbus. Mark Finau’s sack of Barrett was the Rebels highlight of the drive, as Dobbins and Barrett wasted little time getting into the end zone. K.J Hill caught two passes in the middle of field; one went for 20 yards, while the other went just a tad further for 22. Six plays into the series, the Buckeyes moved from their own 35 to the UNLV 16. The seventh play wasn’t as much luck as skill, as Barrett zinged the ball to Johnnie Dixon just yards away from the end zone. Dixon, who can create space and fight for yards did just that, as he dove into the scarlet end zone for the Bucks’ second TD of the quarter.

At the 5:11 mark in the first quarter, Ohio State led UNLV, 14-0.

Now needing points, the Rebels had to move down the field and come up with something. After Rogers evaded Buckeye defenders and gained 11 yards, the drive quickly stalled after two rushes and an incompletion. Once again, the Buckeyes got the ball back via punt.

NCAA Football: UNLV at Ohio State
A Runnin’ Rebel: Armani Rogers was pressured all afternoon by the Buckeyes
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Barrett went back to work, and was 4-for-4 on the ensuing drive. A third passing touchdown was basically penciled in, however, Campbell lost the handle of the ball at the UNLV 2 as defenders crashed in around him. The turnover allowed the Rebels to get the ball back at their own two, but that proved to be a curse disguised as a gift. Lexington Thomas got the ball on the first play, and proceeded to get stopped at the goal line by Dre’Mont Jones. Originally, the refs ruled Thomas down at around the 1/2 yard line. But after a review, the call was reversed and OSU was awarded a safety (so, technically, Campbell helped the Buckeyes get those two points).

On the ensuing kickoff, the terrible day for UNLV just kept getting worse, as Campbell redeemed himself with an 82-yard kickoff return to the Rebels’ 8. The first quarter would come to a close with the Buckeyes up 16-0, and starting the new quarter with a 4th-and-goal from the three.

Field goals are something that this OSU team has done when deep in opposing territory; that mold wasn’t pressed on this offense on Saturday. Meyer went for it on fourth and short, and the play dialed up? A jump-ball to wideout Binjimen Victor in the corner of the end zone.

Another TD, and the score was 23-0 with 14:50 left in the second frame.

As the Rebels tried and tried again to get something to work, a sweep by receiver Brandon Presley gave the Henderson, Nev. program a 13-yard play—bringing a sliver of hope. That sliver of hope was quickly closed, as defensive end Nick Bosa tipped a Rogers pass that went right into the hands of a waiting Damon Arnette. Arnette ran the pick down from the UNLV 36 to the UNLV 7. Once again, another deep drive for OSU nearly stalled. However, Barrett proved to be the man of the hour again with another perfect pass on fourth down. From the four, Barrett operated out the shotgun formation, stepped around the pocket, and threw a floater right to the northeast corner of the end zone to Terry McLaurin—who just had enough space and time to tap his feet onto the end zone.

30-0 Buckeyes at the 12:32 mark before halftime.

The first play of the Rebels next drive was a deep ball that was thrown into double coverage. After crashing into a teammate, Buckeye defensive back Damon Webb came up with the football for the team’s second interception of the half. That interception was converted in another Buckeye TD, as Barrett threw his fifth score of the half.

With the game out of hand, UNLV still didn’t give up on their quest to try and get some points. Down 37-0, the team went for it on 4th-and-9 down the far sideline. The pass came up incomplete, but another Buckeye penalty—this time on Denzel Ward for pass interference— kept the Rebels’ hopes alive.

By the tip of the football on the pylon, the points came to Tony Sanchez’s squad. Lexington Thomas took the ball to the right side from the two, shook a Buckeye defender, and dove toward the pylon. As the ball went flying out of his hands into the white dotted-line where the media has to stand behind, the referees conferred with each other before signaling, “touchdown.”

UNLV got on the board with 3:32 left in the half, but trailed 37-7.

That deficit was about to get seven points worse, as back-up quarterback Dwayne Haskins showed off what he could do. Haskins hit his first four receivers, and ended the drive with a bullet pass to (a covered) receiver C.J. Saunders from 28 yards out. The TD pass was Haskins’ first as a Buckeye.

At halftime, the Buckeyes had held the Rebels to 118 yards of total offense. OSU set school history in the half, too. It was the first time OSU had six different receivers catch a TD. Barrett threw for 209 yards and five touchdowns on 12-of-17 throwing, helping the Bucks get to a 44-7 lead at the break.

After “The Best Damn Band in the Land” completed Script Ohio (they did four of them as it was also Alumni Band day), the third quarter came and went with little fanfare. UNLV scored another touchdown, and Haskins continued to move the ball for OSU—helping put 10 points on the board.

By the fourth quarter, fans were filing out of Ohio Stadium, as this game was in the bag. There was some action happening on the field, though (and it wasn’t all that good for OSU).

Driving down the field with about 13:00 left in the game. Haskins was picked off by linebacker Javin White on the far side of the field, who then proceeded to take off down the sideline for a 65-yard TD.

The pick made the Rebels deficit 33, as the Bucks got the ball back with a 54-21 lead and 12:52 left in regulation. That score would be how the game would end.