This is 12-for-12: Ohio State’s Perfect Season. Originally, we put this together thinking there would not be an actual football season in 2020, but fortunately that is not the case. So now, this just functions as a fun look at a throwback game each week as we prep for Oct. 24.
We have put together a full 12-game schedule for the Buckeyes using one game from each of the last 12 years. The docket is complete with three non-conference opponents, nine Big Ten showdowns, and will also include a three-game postseason with a Big Ten title game and College Football Playoff matchups. We tried to use the best games from each of the 12 years to fill the slots, but some had to be left out to avoid duplicate opponents in the regular season.
We will also be keeping a running total of the regular season’s stat leaders as if all of these games were occurring over one full season. There are many different players that have come through the program during this 12-year span, so only the top three guys in each category will be listed. In the end, we’ll have an interesting concoction of who led the Buckeyes over this 12-game Frankenstein season.
We are going to continue this series even with the announced start date for the actual Big Ten 2020 season, and will move to two Perfect Season pieces a week to try and fit the whole series in before the team’s opener against Nebraska. As we anxiously await the return of Ohio State football, we still have a bunch of games from seasons past to help pass the time.
Game five on the schedule: Ohio State at Nebraska (2019).
Tale of the Tape
Ah yes, the 2019 season. So fresh in all of our minds. A year that seemed so destined for an Ohio State national championship ended in disaster and disappointment at the hands of Clemson in the College Football Playoff thanks to a few missed opportunities in the red zone and a handful of blown calls that completely changed the complexion of the game.
Regardless of how it ended, the Buckeyes were nothing short of dominant in 2019. Justin Fields burst onto the scene as the 1B to Trevor Lawrence’s 1A — and for the most part even outplayed him for the majority of the season — while Chase Young was so good he almost won the Heisman as a defensive player. Ryan Day’s first campaign in Columbus was a huge success, and although it didn’t end in a CFP trophy, it gave great optimism for a new era at Ohio State.
Nebraska, on the other hand, entered the year with big aspirations in year two under Scott Frost. Starting QB Adrian Martinez began the season as a Heisman hopeful, and a good number of people felt that the Huskers had a legitimate chance to win the Big Ten West and even give the Buckeyes a run for their money. That was most certainly not the case, as Martinez’s struggles and the team’s poor play as a whole led to a 5-7 finish with a 3-6 record in conference play. Nebraska lost five of its last six games, and missed out on bowl eligibility for the third straight year.
Right from the opening drive, it was clear that Nebraska was simply overmatched. A short run play and a quick pass netted the Cornhuskers a combined three yards, and from there Adrian Martinez was flushed out of the pocket by Chase Young and baited into throwing an interception directly to Jeff Okudah.
Giving Ohio State’s offense a short field is generally not a good idea, as Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins went right to work. A few plays later, Fields was waltzing into the end zone as the Buckeyes took an early 7-0 lead in Lincoln.
Another thing you don't want to do against Ohio State is put your defense back on the field twice in short succession, which is exactly what Nebraska did after a quick three-and-out. That leads to easy scores like this, and put the Cornhuskers in an early 14-0 hole at home.
Deciding to switch things up, Nebraska’s ensuing possession was perhaps their best of the night. Utilizing some productive option plays, Martinez was able to lead his team all the way down to just outside the red zone. The drive, however, ended in disaster, as a ball looped way over the head of its intended target fell right into the hands of Okudah, who had actually fallen down on the play.
Ohio State would turn the takeaway into three points on a chip-shot field goal by Blake Haubeil, and the Huskers got the ball back desperately needing some offense. It was not to be, as Martinez’s night quickly went from bad to worse. Another wildly overthrown ball lofted way over the head of his receiver and into the diving arms of Jordan Fuller resulted in the third pick of the evening for the Buckeye defense.
A short field was the last thing the Nebraska defense needed to work with, and following a 41-yard run by Fields on the option keeper on the first play of the drive, Master Teague punched it in from eight yards out. Ohio State now held a commanding 24-0 lead with still 8:26 remaining in the first half.
The Huskers continued to just have absolutely nothing working on either side of the ball, and once again it was a quick three-and-out after Martinez was sacked by Malik Harrison on third-and-long. The ensuing Buckeye possession was the Teague show, as the backup RB caught a screen pass for 28 yards, then ran it for 26 yards, and finally walked it in for a 1-yard TD. The blowout was officially on, 31-0.
You’ll never guess this, but the next Nebraska drive? Yup — another three-and-out. Ohio State could do no wrong on the ground or through the air, and after Dobbins broke off a 24-yard rush, Fields hit Austin Mack in the end zone as the receiver fought the ball away from the Husker DB to come down with the TD. The crowd in Lincoln, which began the night amped up, was now silent outside the OSU fans that made the trip, as the home team trailed 38-0 with time still remaining in the first half.
Nebraska would once again fail to get a first down following a sack by Young, and Ohio State mercifully ran the clown down to get both teams into the locker room for halftime.
The Buckeyes first possession of the second half resulted in a field goal, and the Huskers got the ball back down 41-0 looking to just avoid the shutout on their home field. Nebraska would finally manage to get a first down, but the drive wound up ending on a punt anyway following the new set of downs.
Sticking mostly to the ground game to keep the clock rolling, the Buckeyes offense was not yet finished putting up points. A couple of long runs by Dobbins had OSU deep in Nebraska territory rather quickly, and eventually the eight-play, 67-yard drive resulted in seven points as Fields found the freshman Garrett Wilson in the corner of the end zone for a pretty TD to extend the lead to 48-0 with a little under four minutes to go in the third quarter.
It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that Nebraska was able to get its first points of the night, and it took a 56-yard run by Martinez to make it happen. The long scramble by the QB set the Huskers up near Ohio State’s 10-yard line, and a few plays later a 9-yard TD run by Dedrick Mills broke the shut out.
Both teams would pretty much empty the benches from thereon out, and the game would finish with a final score of 48-7 Buckeyes. A game that was pegged by some as a potential trap game turned out to be anything but, and we got a great glimpse of just how dominant that 2019 Ohio State team could be when everything was clicking.
LGHL Season Stat Leaders (OSU 5-0)
- Terrelle Pryor: 499 Yds / 3 TD / 1 INT (2 games)
- Dwayne Haskins: 405 Yds / 3 TD / 1 INT
- Justin Fields: 212 Yds / 3 TD / 0 INT
- J.K. Dobbins: 380 Yds / 6.2 Avg / 1 TD (2 games)
- Terrelle Pryor: 185 Yds / 4.6 Avg / 1 TD (2 games)
- Ezekiel Elliott: 122 Yds / 11.1 Avg / 1 TD
- DeVier Posey: 12 Rec / 206 Yds / 1 TD (2 games)
- Johnnie Dixon: 7 Rec / 131 Yds / 0 TD (2 games)
- Terry McLaurin: 4 Rec / 118 Yds / 1 TD
- Chase Young: 3.0
- Tyquan Lewis: 1.5
- Eight tied at 1.0
- Chimdi Chekwa: 2 (2 games)
- Jeff Okudah: 2 (2 games)
- Five tied at one
As we move to two Perfect Season posts a week (one on Thursdays, one on the weekends), the next matchup sees Ohio State take on Purdue (2013) at Ross-Ade Stadium. Keep an eye out for that one, which will likely drop on Saturday morning.