Even though it was the first primetime matchup of the season for the Ohio State Buckeyes, it was business as usual. Behind a 212-yard, three touchdown effort in the air from quarterback Justin Fields; and a 26 carry, 177-yard ground effort by running back J.K. Dobbins, the Bucks cruised to a 48-7 road victory against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
All night, the Big Ten West host had issues containing the Buckeye offense and breaking through the defense. The Cornhuskers committed three turnovers — all interceptions — in the first half, and couldn’t overcome the 38-0 deficit at halftime.
In a redemption contest for head coach Scott Frost and quarterback Adrian Martinez, the ‘Husker offense was held to 231 yards of offense, while the Buckeyes had 580.
Austin Mack, K.J. Hill and Garrett Wilson were the three Buckeye wide receiver to haul in touchdown receptions. Mack led the receiving unit in yards with 66, while Hill led the team in catches with five.
For Dobbins, he crossed a milestone. The La Grange, Texas native became the 11th Buckeye to cross the 3,000-yard rushing mark.
Defensively, OSU was a fine-tuned machine. Defensive back Jeff Okudah snagged two interceptions, while fellow DB Jordan Fuller collected one. Defensive end Chase Young sacked Martinez once; in total, the Nebraska QB was brought down four times throughout the night.
Being constantly under duress, Martinez threw for 47 yards on 8-of-17 passing. On the ground, Martinez led his squad with 81 yards on 15 attempts.
Let’s take a look at how this one went down in Lincoln, Neb.
The Cornhuskers began with the ball, getting pushed back to their own 9-yard line after a holding occurred on the opening kickoff. On the first play from scrimmage, a 3-yard scramble by Adrian Martinez ended up significantly bigger, as linebacker Malik Harrison hit Martinez after he was safely out of bounds. Three-straight positive yardage plays set the home team up around their own 40. Then for the remainder of the drive, it became the Jeffrey Okudah show. The Buckeye defensive back stuffed Maurice Washington on a reception in the flats, and then followed that play with a diving interception at midfield.
Like clockwork, it was business as usual for the OSU offense. Fields began the drive with a 10-yard completion to Austin Mack on a come back route. Dobbins plowed his way to 10 yards on three straight rushes—barely getting the two yards needed on a third-and-2 situation.
Taking the first shot at the end zone, Fields sought K.J. Hill in the back of the end zone, but the pass was broken up by defensive back Cam Taylor-Britt. However, Taylor-Britt made slim contact with Hill’s arm, prompting the official to throw a flag for pass interference. Much to the dismay of the crowd, things were about to get worse. Finding no one open, Fields took off running up the middle of the Cornhusker defense. Dodging defenders with ease, Fields dove into the end zone for a touchdown. Fifty yards in five plays, the Buckeyes jumped out to a 7-0 lead.
and the route was on...— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) September 28, 2019
(please don't quote tweet this if it ends up being close late) pic.twitter.com/xyTiNdYSwP
After a NEB three-and-out, Dobbins began OSU’s second drive with a 15-yard rush down the sidelines. Nebraska didn’t have an answer for this Buckeye offense, as four straight plays went for a combined 25 yards. Sitting on the ‘Huskers 20-yard line, two straight busted plays brought third-and-10. That didn’t phase head coach Ryan Day and passing game coordinator Mike Yurich, as a beautifully designed quarterback sweep picked up 14 yards.
Following a Dobbins 4-yard push up the middle, Fields connected with Hill in the flats, allowing the wideout to sprint to the far-side pylon for OSU’s second touchdown of the quarter.
In what was described by Chris Fowler as a throwback to the glory days of the Cornhuskers’ ground-and-pound offense, Martinez was running point on a very bright drive. Six of the first seven plays of the drive went for positive yards, with 220-pound running back Dedrick Mills driving his way on two separate 12-yard rushes.
Down to the OSU26, Martinez floated a pass under pressure to wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson. In another stroke of bad luck for the ‘Huskers, Okudah, who slipped and was lying on his back, caught the ball as it tipped off of Robinson’s fingers.
Jeffrey Okudah: Laid back dude.— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 29, 2019
The @OhioStateDB gets pick No. 2 of the evening from the turf: pic.twitter.com/cDQaCNl8qC
Ohio State took the ensuing drive into the second quarter, and proceeded to sprint even further away from the ‘Huskers. For the fifth straight game this season, the Bucks put together an eye-popping second quarter. This time, they hung 24 points on the board in the second 15-minute period. Master Teague pounded two touchdowns on the ground, and Fields connected with Hill for the second passing touchdown of the half. Blake Haubeil had zero trouble with a 23-yard field goal try.
At halftime the Buckeyes had a commanding 38-0 lead, with both sides of the ball putting together a masterful performance away from Columbus.
Forty-five plays were executed by OSU in the first half, collecting a whopping 378 of offensive in the process. Twenty-nine of those plays were rushes, with an average of 7.9 yards per carry. Facing third down scenarios, Ohio State was 7-of-8 in the first 30 minutes of action. Nebraska, with 28 total offensive plays, had 78 yards of offense. Martinez began the game 2-of-8 for 10 yards, with three interceptions. In comparison, Fields was 10-of-16 for 148 yards and a pair of TDs.
To begin the third quarter, the scoring show continued for OSU. Even though the Bucks picked up four first downs on the drive and reach well inside the red zone, Fields took a third down sack. Haubeil was summoned for a field goal, netting three points for his 36-yarder. Following another ‘Husker drive that stalled out, Dobbins was the primary figure in the second (and final) scoring drive of the third quarter. However, it was WR Garrett Wilson that finished off the drive—receiving a 6-yard pass from Fields in the back corner of the end zone.
Nursing a 48-0 lead, the home squad was finally able to break through on the scoreboard. Thanks in large part to Martinez escaping the OSU defense for a 56-yard scramble, Mills capped up a five play, 75-yard drive with a 9-yard carry right up the middle.
Even though it was — arguably — the highest profile game in Lincoln since then-No. 1 USC visited in 2007, the ‘Huskers were at least able to avoid a shutout on home soil.
After a sack to begin the fourth quarter and a Teague stop on third and long, Drue Chrisman was summoned for the first time on Saturday night. He boomed the punt 59 yards, however, it was a touchback.
With Buckeye starters being pulled from the game, depth experience became the new mission for Ohio State. And even with the starters getting rest, the Buckeyes continued to flex their muscle on their hosts. Facing a fourth-and-goal situation at the OSU3, the Buckeyes defense wasn’t tricked by the reverse, and ended up sacking Martinez for a loss of 12.
That would be the last near-scoring chance for either team, capping off a scoreless fourth quarter in Lincoln.
Next week, the Buckeyes will be back in primetime, but hosting. Michigan State (4-1, 2-0) comes to town for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff inside Ohio Stadium. ESPN will broadcast the game.