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Ohio State’s secondary is back on track after dismantling UNLV

UNLV’s gambles didn’t pay off last Saturday.

UNLV v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Slow starts hindered the Buckeyes during each of their first three games, but a 44 - 7 halftime lead against the UNLV Rebels last Saturday quickly put to rest any thoughts of another gut-wrenching afternoon. A few statistical notes:

  • Rebels quarterback Armani Rogers averaged 11.8 yards per attempt against Howard and Idaho — but just 4.6 Y/A against Ohio State.
  • The Rebels broke off three rushes of 20-plus yards (including a 55-yard touchdown), but still averaged just 4.29 yards per carry on the afternoon.
  • UNLV’s 21 points were tied with Indiana for the second-most allowed by Ohio State’s defense this season, but a pick-six from backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins attributed to 33 percent of the Rebels’ score.

All three levels of the Buckeyes defense played great last Saturday, here are some of the game’s premiere performers.

Damon Arnette is balling out

Arnette, along with the rest of the secondary, faced some early season controversy after the Buckeyes seemed incapable of slowing down Richard Lagow and Baker Mayfield. His ability to redirect in an instant helped defeat UNLV’s well-timed reverse with the game still in reach, and his near pick-six helped blow the game wide open:

Opponents have found it easier to pick on Ohio State’s slot corner for the better part of the last two seasons, but Arnette’s recent lock-down play has made that choice a tall task as well. It took the Buckeyes’ young secondary a bit longer to grow up and start balling out than most expected, but their recent resurgence is in large part thanks to the consistently excellent play of guys like Arnette. The Buckeyes are seldom at a talent disadvantage, and they should continue to get better and more comfortable as the season goes on.

Nick Bosa, ladies and gentlemen, is a beast

Bosa’s seven tackles for loss this season are more than double the next closest Buckeye, and he’s also tallied a team-high 3.0 sacks. His well-timed pass deflection gifted Arnette’s aforementioned interception, while Bosa’s relentless and consistent penetration has helped him stand out on a defensive line full of studs:

Bosa’s sound technique is made unstoppable when he gets a good jump off the snap, something that has been happening with more regularity in recent weeks. The Buckeyes feed off creating negative plays, as it forces the opponent to operate behind the sticks — a death sentence against Ohio State’s elite mix of pass rushers and corners. While last season’s defensive line was dominant, no single player routinely commanded the attention of the entire team’s offensive line. Through four games, Bosa has routinely emerged as the premiere playmaker on the nation’s best defensive line.

The Piranhas are BACK

Ohio State’s kickoff-coverage team has been almost hilariously dominant for the better part of Urban Meyer’s reign. Still, the unit struggled against Oklahoma and Army, prompting Meyer to call out the unit prior to last Saturday. They responded by holding the Rebels inside their own 20-yard line all on five of their first half returns. The Buckeyes made each and every kickoff a must-watch occasion:

The will of the Rebels’ kick return unit was broken swiftly at Ohio Stadium, as each return was met by a swarm of scarlet uniforms. UNLV hardly had a chance to work outside the shadow of their own end zone for the entire first half, and this advantage in field position proved to be instrumental in the Buckeyes blowing the Rebels out early.


Last Saturday was real, and fun, but it wasn’t really fun. The Buckeyes have a prime-time matchup against Rutgers this Saturday, but don’t have a big-time test until they travel to Lincoln, Nebraska on October 14.

The final: 54-21, Ohio State

Defensive player of the game: Nick Bosa (4 tackles, 3 TFLs, 1 sack, 1 pass deflection)

Defensive play of the game: Bosa pass deflection leads to interception by Damon Arnette.

Next Victim: Rutgers. Time to show the New York City media what it’s like to have a college football team. Keep it classy, Columbus.