For the past month, there’s been a dark cloud over the Ohio State Buckeyes football program. Urban Meyer is out for the first three games, serving a suspension from the investigation that concluded a couple of weeks ago. However, on Saturday, the cloud was briefly lifted, as the Buckeyes won their first game of the season against the Oregon State Beavers, 77-31. The win is Ohio State’s 19th consecutive season-opening victory, which is the longest active streak in the FBS.
Ohio State jumped to a 42-14 at halftime before, literally, the clouds rolled back in. A weather delay lasted over an hour, but play resumed with the same Buckeye team that came out in the first half: one that was ready to score points at will.
Dwayne Haskins had an exceptional game as the new Buckeye starter. He threw for 313 yards, and posted five touchdowns on 22-of-30 passing. He also had one interception on a drive that was seemingly going to end with another Buckeye TD. With or without that potential sixth score, Haskins reached multiple milestones on Saturday. He set the record for most yards and passing touchdowns for a Buckeye QB making his first start.
On the ground, Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins proved that they may be part of the best backfield in America. Weber had seven “chunk” rushes—ones going over 10 yards—with two of those ending up as touchdowns. His longest rush of the afternoon was a 49-yard carry that weaved past the Beaver defense en route to a score. Weber had 20 attempts for 186 yards (a career high) and three TDs; Dobbins had 15 carries for 74 yards.
A 75-yard TD propelled Terry McLaurin into the receiving leader for the game. He ended with four catches for 121 yards and two scores. This was the first game McLaurin received over 100 yards.
As a whole unit, the Buckeyes posted 721 yards of total offense against the Beavers. If that sounds like a lot, you’re right. This was the second-most yards ever tallied by an Ohio State offense in a game. The most? The Bowling Green contest in 2016, where they scored 77 points behind 776 yards of offense.
The defensive side of the ball stifled the Beavers. Five sacks and two fumbles—both recovered by Nick Bosa—put pressure on the Pac-12 program. Both Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones led with sacking effort with two apiece; Pete Werner and Jahsen Wint both led Ohio State on the tackling front with five apiece.
The Beavers started the game with a little trickery. A reverse end-around to junior running back Artavis Pierce went two yards to the far side of the field. Then on third-down, a simple screen to wide receiver Trevon Bradford went 25 yards to the OHST46. A Robert Landers offside call, followed by two short rushes, set up the Beavers for a third-and-2. In shotgun formation, Luton bobbled the handle—and the ball was recovered by Buckeye lineman Nick Bosa.
Ohio State then moved down the field. Short rushes by running back J.K. Dobbins and a 27-yard post completion to wideout Terry McLaurin setup the Buckeyes on the six. Two plays later, quarterback Dwayne Haskins connected with McLaurin again. This time, for a 2-yard touchdown pass. The Bucks marched 57 yards on 5 plays, and took just 1:13 off the clock en route to taking the early 7-0 lead.
On the second series for Oregon State, Luton was taken out of the QB role after an apparent injury sustained in the first drive. Redshirt sophomore Conor Blount filled in, and guided the Beavers to a quick (and scary) march toward the endzone. After an incompletion in tight coverage, Blount connected with Pierce for a 26-yard reception courtesy of another screen; then on the next play, Blount found Bradford over the middle on a post route. Bradford had nothing but green in front of him after catching safety Jahsen Wint changing directions. The reception totaled 49 yards and a touchdown.
Now tied at 7-7, the Buckeyes went back to work on offense. This time around, Mike Weber was the featured rusher in the backfield—and he didn’t disappoint. On a third-and-1 from OHST44, the Detroit native broke open an 11-yard carry for a fresh first set of downs. After Haskins found a wide open McLaurin on a comeback route down the sideline, Weber got the rock at the ORST16. Deeking and shaking tacklers, Weber found the endzone for the first time this season.
Not even halfway through the opening quarter, three TDs had been accounted for. Unlike the last drive, however, the Beavers’ weren’t going to be able to respond in kind.
Even though a pass interference call on Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah set the Beavers up in Buckeye territory, things deteriorated quickly for the visitors after Dre’Mont Jones sacked Blount for a 10-yard loss. The drive stalled out, and the Beavs’ had to punt.
After Dwayne Williams interfered in C.J. Saunders’ fair catching the punt, the Bucks took over near midfield. Giving this offense a short field to work with was a bold strategy, considering that Oregon State couldn’t stop Haskins, Dobbins, or, for that matter, anybody who had the ball.
Dobbins worked toward the sidelines, while Haskins found K.J. Hill for pockets of yards down the middle of the field. All this culminated to a Haskins rollout to a wide open Rashod Berry for a 6-yard score.
If Oregon State didn’t feel the wrath of the Buckeye defense already, they were about to. Even though the Beavers scraped by with two first downs to keep the drive alive, Blount was constantly under duress. One pass was nearly picked off, but the big play of the drive came on a 12-yard sack by Bosa—ending the drive entirely. The Beavers punted the ball away to Saunders, who muffed the punt. Replay showed that the ball deflected off of the helmet of Ohio State’s Damon Arnette Jr. allowing the Beavers to recover.
Working at the OHST29, a 5-yard rush by Pierce would take us to the close of the first quarter. Despite the strong starting field position, the 24-yard line would be as close as the visiting side would get, resulting in a 43-yard field goal attempt by Jordan Choukair. Choukair was set at the far hash; that may have been a contributing factor to why he pushed the ball wide of the uprights. The kick was no good, and the Buckeyes maintained a 21-7 lead.
In the first quarter, Haskins went 10-of-11 for 114 yards and two scores. In the first drive of the second quarter, Haskins went back to work as Weber was in the backfield. Austin Mack was the recipient of a Haskins pass for nine yards, but it was Weber who stole the show. After a misconnection between the QB and RB leading to an incomplete pop pass, Weber charged up the near-side of the field, and weaved around defenders for a 49-yard touchdown rush—his second of the game.
The cylinders were pumping for the Buckeyes, who took a 28-7 lead. Oregon State’s cylinders, on the other hand, appeared to run out of oil to operate. A three-and-out drive consisting of a short 4-yard pass, a run of no-gain, and another Jones sack of Blount handled the ball back to the Bucks.
But, it wasn’t Haskins who would be handed the ball to start the next series. Tate Martell got his first opportunity of his collegiate career to show what he could do in the offense. After a couple of plays that didn’t move the ball, Haskins returned and immediately moved the chains with an 18-yard pass to Hill off of a crossing pattern. A steady dose of Dobbins on the ground and Haskins completing chunk passes set Ohio State on the opposing 3-yard line. Haskins found Weber for those three yards on a successful pop pass, and were rewarded with six points.
Running a deficit of 28 points, the Beavs took the field again in hopes of getting back into the game. Like their last series though, the three-and-out bug came back. That bug must’ve been contagious, as when the Bucks got the ball, the second team offense took over, and also succumbed to three-and-out—their first of the game. This did enable Drue Chrisman to show off his punting work, which turned out to be very good. Chrisman launched the ball 65 yards, downing it at the three.
Pinning Oregon State deep proved to be a good strategy, as the defense clamped down. Even after getting an extra three yards of space via a Pierce rush, Blount, who was operating out of the shotgun, was sacked by Buckeye linebacker Pete Werner in the endzone. Making matters worse for the Corvallis, Ore., team was the fact that Blount fumbled the football. Making matters even worse was that Bosa scooped the ball up in the endzone. This would be Bosa’s second fumble recovery of the day, and his first defensive TD of the season.
With 4:30 left in the half, the Beavers finally were able to show signs of life on offense. An 11-play drive that was highlighted by Jermar Jefferson cutting down the near-sideline for a 31-yard carry set Oregon State up for their closest attempt at the end zone all half (the 7-yard line). Blount went up to Bradford in the corner of the end zone, and he pulled the ball down.
This would take us to halftime, where Ohio State held a commanding 42-14 lead.
Halftime would be a little longer as expected, as inclement weather made its way to Columbus, sparking a delay of about one hour and 13 minutes.
The @OhioStateFB team is in a weather delay for the third time in the last 27 games - Tulsa and Oklahoma games in 2016 also experienced delays - after having played 328 games without a weather-related incident (vs. USC in 1990).— Jerry Emig (@BuckeyeNotes) September 1, 2018
Play resumed back around 3:10 p.m. ET, with the Buckeyes getting the ball first.
On the first play of the half, Haskins found McLaurin standing at the first down marker. He then worked his way to the sideline and broke free. It appeared that McLaurin was going to be pushed out just shy of the goal line, but he was able to dive across the plane of the goal line as the Beavers’ defense was closing in on the tackle.
Not to be outdone by Ohio State’s 75-yard TD to start the second half, Oregon State wanted to show what they could do off of the weather delay. With Jack Colletto now under center, he handed the ball off to Pierce, who blew past his right guard down the sideline. Pierce, who had just seven yards of rushing in the first half, went down the sideline for an 80-yard score.
Within the first minute of the third quarter, the score had ballooned to 49-21 in favor of the Scarlet and Gray.
And the scoring wasn’t going to stop there.
Another sub-three minute drive from the Buckeyes ended with a touchdown. Weber helped pave the way, as did Haskins’ arm—he found Mack for 21 yards on this series—en route to a 10-yard TD shuffle pass to Parris Campbell. Oregon State wasn’t going to be deterred by this 56-21 deficit; they went right back to work. After a false start was followed by a three yard pickup from Pierce, the Beavs’ starting RB put the team on his back on second-and-12. He took the handoff 78 yards to the house, unveiling a sluggish start to the second half for Bucks’ defense.
Haskins and the Bucks went back on the march for points and were in the red zone when disaster struck. After throwing five TDs, Haskins threw his first interception of the season. Shawn Wilson picked off the pass at the Beavers’ 2-yard line and brought it out to the 37 before Haskins forced a fumble. Unfortunately for Ohio State, Kaleb Hayes scooped the ball up and took it all the way to the Buckeyes’ 19-yard line. Oregon State didn’t get into the end zone, but they did add a field goal.
In the midst of answering the Beavers’ field goal, the end of the third quarter arrived; going into the final frame, Ohio State held a commanding 56-31 lead.
That lead would have seven more points added in the first minute of the quarter. A 4-yard sprint from Weber capped off the Buckeyes 11-play, 79-yard drive. This drive was the longest for the home team, stretching 5:54.
Ohio State padded three more touchdowns to the board, and hit the 77-point mark for the first time since their meeting with Bowling Green in 2016.
Up next for the Buckeyes will be a Big Ten opponent. Ohio State battles Rutgers on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 3:30 ET. That game will broadcast on BTN.