The Ohio State Buckeyes and Oklahoma Sooners had plenty of chances to put points on the board in the first half. However, the game went into the halftime break at 3-3. In the first 30 minutes, the Buckeye defense held their own against a highly explosive Sooners’ offense.
However, that Oklahoma offense was only contained in the first half, as the Sooners paced away in the second half against OSU, winning the game, 31-16. Senior OU quarterback Baker Mayfield danced around the Buckeye defense, and made plays all night. The Sooners’ Heisman candidate ended the game throwing for 386 yards and three touchdowns on 27-of-35 passing.
Momentum shifted in the fourth quarter, as the Sooners 17-13 lead turned into a 31-13 lead after a 10-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield to Trey Sermon, and a 3-yard rushing TD from Jordan Smallwood. Those two TDs were part of a 21-point unanswered scoring spree for Oklahoma, who entered the game ranked as the fifth best team in the country.
On the Buckeye side, J.T. Barrett will have to wait another week to break the Big Ten touchdown record, as he didn’t pick up any touchdowns against the Sooners, and ended the game with 183 yards passing and an interception. Barrett was also held to 66 yards rushing.
If there was a shining spot, J.K. Dobbins continued to show what he can do in the rushing department. While it wasn’t as spectacular as last week’s 181-yard performance against Indiana, he scored the first OSU touchdown, and ended with over 70 yards on the ground—leading all rushers.
Additionally, the special teams unit looked good as well. Kicker Sean Nuernberger nailed all three field goal attempts against Oklahoma, and punter Drue Chrisman averaged 45.7 yards per punt. With the succession of all three field goals—which had distances of 24 yards, 24 yards and 32 yards—the Buckeyes ended the night 4-for-4 scoring when they got to the redzone.
Penalties were a problem for the Buckeyes, as they had 9-for-87 yards. In comparison, the Sooners had 3-for-26.
If you want a more in-depth write-up of how the fourth edition of Buckeyes-Sooners turned out, it’s right below.
Mayfield was as advertised, and showed what he could do on the first drive of the game. He threaded the needle on a 3rd-and-7 conversion to CeeDee Lamb for 10 yards, keeping the drive alive. Running back Abdul Adams also showed what he was capable of, picking up 16 yards on the first series. However, the Sooners gambled on a 4th-and-4 from the OSU 36 and came up empty. The failed fourth down came on an unusual overthrow from Mayfield.
Ohio State wouldn’t have the same kind of moving ability on their first drive. Dobbins rushed for 4 yards on the Buckeyes’ opening play, and not much came after that. Once again, a three-and-out was dialed up by the OSU offense. Drue Chrisman punted the ball to the Sooners, and pinned the visitors to their own 9 after a 52-yard punt.
Oklahoma did their thing once again: utilizing Mayfield’s playmaking abilities. Mayfield found Lamb for 12 and 15 yard passes, respectively, and helped trot the Boomer Schooner down the field. Faced with a 3rd-and-12, Mayfield went to Mark Andrews over the middle for nine yards, setting up another 4th-and-short. Sooners’ coach Lincoln Riley again went for the fourth down conversion, and this time around, it was converted via a Buckeye pass interference. On the play, Mayfield rolled out to the near-side of the field, and the pocket collapsed; however, he danced around, and created enough space to throw the ball into the endzone toward WR Jordan Thomas. Thomas was being guarded by Damon Webb, who was tugging at the Sooners’ wide out’s jersey. Thomas hit the deck, and got a pass interference call.
The Sooners seemed to be getting momentum—or so they thought. On the next play, Adams went up the middle and was met by Chris Worley, who connected his shoulder pad to the ball, jarring the pigskin loose. Buckeye defensive tackle Jashon Cornell was the first one in the pile to get the ball, and, just like that, the momentum was back in the home team’s favor with a fumble recovery.
Starting on their own 25, Barrett and his offense were back on the grind for some points. On the first play of the drive, the three-time captain took the snap and went over to the far-side of the field for 12 yards. A completion to tight end Marcus Baugh and a defensive holding call put the Bucks on the OSU 47. Two more rushes for Barrett brought in nine more yards to his box stats. But, as soon as Sooners’ turf was encroached, the Crimson and Cream machine began to fight back—specifically, through the Scarlet and Gray’s offensive line. A trio of drive-stopping plays (a Barrett sack, a Dobbins rush for zero yards and an incompletion) forced the Buckeyes to punt the ball away. OU stopped the Wilson offense again, and their reward was starting at their own 13.
Two minutes were left in the first quarter when the Sooners got the ball back. A couple rushes by Trey Sermon and a pair of Mayfield passes, one being a bubble screen to Andrews that went for 14 yards right up the middle of the OSU defense, were enough to end the quarter at a scoreless draw.
While the quarter changed, some things stayed the same—like OU getting careless with the football. On the first play of the new quarter, Mayfield threw a backward pass that was bobbled Jeff Badet, and picked up by Damon Webb, who redeemed himself after a P.I. call. Originally, the call was an incomplete pass, but after a review, the ball did not lie—and the Bucks got possession back at the OU 49.
It took a quarter, but Mike Weber finally got his first touch for nine yards up the near sideline. After a trifecta of plays around Barrett, Weber got his second touch, bursting up the middle for 13 yards; Kahlil Haughton tackled Weber by wrapping him up around his legs and turning him around as they both tumbled toward the turf. Weber limped to the sideline, and missed the next few plays. But, his rush put the Buckeyes in the redzone for the first time.
Barrett took advantage of Weber’s rush, and threw a far-sideline pass to K.J. Hill, who cut and juked around the Sooners’ D, making some of the defenseman look silly as he gobbled 13 yards. While they looked silly on that pass play, the OU defense clamped down. Barrett lost a couple of yards on one play, then on the next, Barrett threw an incompletion to Austin Mack. Faced with a 3rd-and-goal on the 12, another pass play was dialed up. It didn’t get a touchdown, but the six-yard completion to Parris Campbell set up a 24-yard field goal for Sean Nuernberger, which he converted.
With 11:11 left on the clock in the first half, the first score was earned: OSU 3, OU 0.
At that point, injuries began to take their toll on Oklahoma. Mark Andrews was still out after the bubble-screen completion a drive ago—one that saw him get up-ended after planting his foot. Mayfield took a sack on the first play of this new drive, and limped as he got back to the huddle.
While they weren’t 100-percent, the Sooners kept on moving as best as they could. On a 2nd-and-14 from their own 25, Mayfield flung the ball to Jeff Badet on the near side, who then took off for 29 yards down the sideline. Fast forward a couple of plays and the Sooners had another 2nd down; this time from (just) 10 yards out. Mayfield worked his magic again, and danced around traffic to find Flowers for 20 yards. OU was moving now. However, foreshadowing is a helluva thing. Freshman receiver Grant Calcaterra mishandled a threaded pass from Baker, which for all intents and purposes should have been a touchdown.
The Sooners had to settle for a field goal. Once again, the Sooners’ bungled this scoring chance up; a rushed snap and hold led to Austin Seibert sailing the kick just to the right of the upright.
OU has four trips inside Ohio State territory and zero points to show for it.— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) September 10, 2017
As OU continued to make plays that lose big time games, the Buckeye offense had a tough time capitalizing on those premium opportunities. While Barrett took 20 yards on a couple of rushes on a fresh drive, it quickly went stale. Again, a sack—this time by Ogbonnia Okoronkwo on third down—put the Bucks in an unkind situation to punt.
Chrisman’s punt set the Sooners’ starting point at their own 28. This drive was bound to happen eventually: OU was gonna march down the field and finally get points. Mayfield had two passes (one apiece for Sermon and Rodney Anderson) that went for a collective 20 yards of green turf. Backup quarterback Kyle Murray came in for a play, as Mayfield hobbled off the field again, and picked up 12 yards on an option play—which is a super Oklahoma throwback. Sermon got the rock two more times, and put the visiting guys in white and red on the OSU 26. Anderson plowed his way up the middle for 8 yards, knocking down the door that held the Sooners from the redzone. The catch was that the rush wasn’t for a first down, but made the ensuing third down manageable at just two yards.
Well, manageable for most teams.
The pocket collapsed on Mayfield. But unlike the last times, where dancing around created space for a receiver to get open, the Buckeyes defense held their own, and brought down Mayfield a yard short of the marker. Seibert got the call for a 35-yard field goal, and atoned for the miss earlier on the previous drive.
OSU got the ball back with 25 seconds left in the half, and handed off the ball to Dobbins for five yards—taking us to the break.
Here’s what the first half stats looked like:
Individual stats that stood out: Barrett going 5-of-11 for 25 yards, Dobbins having 4 carries for 12 yards, and Mayfield going 11-of-18 for 158.
The first half was flat, all that would change in the second half (actually, it would all change on the opening kickoff).
Starting off the third quarter with a bang, Parris Campbell brought the kick return 56 yards; it would’ve been a touchdown if Seibert didn’t push Campbell out of bounds. The five plays that followed would be for positive yardage, and would sit the Buckeyes on the OU 8 before the Sooners’ defensive star Okoronkwo went down with an apparent cramp. Off the injury timeout, Dobbins was given the rock on the read by Barrett, and pushed right up the middle for eight yards and the first touchdown of the night.
OSU took just 2:23 off the clock, and held the 10-3 advantage.
That advantage wouldn’t be for long, as Oklahoma shook off the rust, just like the Buckeyes. Mayfield conducted the offense like a symphonic orchestra, and drove the Sooners 67 yards in five plays. The scoring play came off Mayfield utilizing the read, allowing him to fake the Buckeyes on the rush, while he went up top to Flowers. Flowers caught the ball in the middle of the field, and cut across to the near-side, beating the OSU defense to the corner for a 36-yard touchdown.
Action was finally happening in this highly anticipated game, as both teams traded blows. But those blows weren’t done.
Dobbins cracked open the ensuing OSU drive with rushes of eight, 13 and 16 yards. Then, Barrett went for the deep ball to Mack on the near-sideline. Mack went up in the air, brought the ball down after landing on his butt, and took a shot from an OU defenseman—it also didn’t help that his neck/head snapped back onto the turf as he landed.
Initially, the 31-yard reception was ruled incompletion, but the Big 12 refs went to the review box, and overturned the call. Mack went to the locker room after the catch, but his efforts put the Buckeyes on the OU 7. The yard gobbling would stop in the short term, as two ill-advised option/rushes went for virtually no yards, and Barrett overthrew Hill in the corner of the endzone. Nuernberger was called upon for a 24-yard FG attempt, and nailed it.
OSU 13, OU 10 with 8:06 left in the third quarter.
If Baker had any magic for the next series, it wasn’t apparent. The highlight of this drive was OSU defensive end Nick Bosa chasing Mayfield as he fled to his own 1-yardline, sacking him. OU had a 2nd-and-30 from their own 1, which is basically the football equivalent of being between a rock and a hard place. The rest of the three-and-out drive was to just get some manageable field possession.
Ohio State did their own impression of Oklahoma, as their next drive also was a three-and-out (Dobbins was stopped twice and Barrett picked up five yards—before a holding call was declined—if you wanted to know what the plays were).
As OSU held the fort down with a 13-10 lead at the 3:57 mark of the third quarter, the Mayfield Schooner was about to trample all over that small lead. Two on-the-money passes from the OU QB (one for 17 yards to Lamb, the other a 42-yard pass to Mykel Jones over the fingertips of Buckeye corner Damon Arnette) put the Sooners in the redzone. A completed slant route to Lee Morris for 18 yards sealed the deal, as Mayfield had his first touchdown of the night—and the Sooners had their first lead, 17-13.
Meyer’s Bucks needed an answer. However, it wouldn’t come on the rebuttal drive. As OSU moved down the field, they were stopped at the OU 39, and were faced with a 4th-and-7. Meyer went for it; as Barrett rolled out, an OU linebacker jumped through the line, forcing a rushed throw from the Buckeye QB. The pass sailed just off the fingers of Hill, and the Sooners got possession back at a critical juncture—with the lead no less.
The wear and tear on the Buckeye defense began to show as Mayfield carved the Buckeyes up. One play was a wide open pass that was incomplete due to a pass interference. Short passes to Badet and Lamb, as well as Sermon rushes, eroded away the D.
Mayfield finished off the drive with a scrambling pass to Sermon on the near-sideline for about 7 yards, who then fought his way the final yards to the endzone.
Oklahoma took a 24-13 lead against the No. 2 team in college football, and didn’t look back.