Well, that was certainly fun to watch. Ohio State played a nearly perfect game and beat a top-10 opponent by 59 points, a near-record margin. The only worse beat down of a top-10 team came way back in 1945 when Army defeated Penn by 61 points.
The 59-point shellacking was the second worst ever suffered by Nebraska, the worst coming against Texas Tech in 2004 when the Huskers were on the wrong end of a 70-10 blowout.
1. Quarterback J.T. Barrett was the focal point of the offense this week, which is not unusual. However, instead of running the zone read 25 times, Barrett was asked to throw the ball with more frequency and against tendencies. Barrett responded with his best performance of the season, completing 26 of 38 passes (68.4%) for 290 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and 0 sacks. Despite staying in the pocket most of the night Barrett also added 39 yards rushing on 8 carries, including a 20-yard run on a quarterback draw to convert a 3rd-and-9.
2. Why isn't Curtis Samuel getting any Heisman love? Do the Buckeyes need to play him on defense for a few snaps so the national media can praise his versatility? Maybe Samuel would even come up with an interception, something that Superman JabriLL Peppers has failed to do despite playing almost exclusively on the defensive side of the ball for two whole years. Samuel had another great game yesterday with 5 rushes for 41 yards (8.2 average) and 8 receptions for 137 yards (17.1 average) and 2 touchdowns.
3. For the season, Samuel is leading the Buckeyes in receptions (52); receiving yards (676); and touchdowns (10); and he has the three longest plays from scrimmage (74-yard run; 75-yard reception; 79-yard reception). He is also second on the team in rushing yards (599), trailing only Mike Weber who has 842 yards.
4. Samuel has twice as many receptions and more than twice as many receiving yards as Noah Brown, who is second in both categories (26 receptions, 323 yards).
5. With his 75-yard TD reception last night, Samuel became the third Buckeye in history to record at least three touchdowns from scrimmage of 70+ yards. The other two are also recent members of the team: running back Ezekiel Elliott, with runs of 75, 80, 81, and 85 yards; and wide receiver Devin Smith, with receptions of 72, 80, and 90 yards. Samuel is the only Buckeye to accomplish the feat during one season.
6. With the game being a blow out, many reserves got to see early action. Quarterback Joe Burrow completed all six of his passes for 62 yards and added 13 yards and a touchdown on the ground; he also led the team on an 11-play, 98-yard touchdown drive. Running back Demario McCall led the team in rushing with 16 carries for 73 yards (4.6 average) and had a 15-yard punt return. Wide receiver K.J. Hill had 5 catches for 66 yards and tight end A.J. Alexander added 3 catches for 24 yards.
7. The Buckeye defense had two more pick sixes last night, giving them a team-record six on the season. Damon Webb returned a tipped pass 36 yards for a score on the third play of the game, and Malik Hooker added a 48-yard return in the closing seconds of the third quarter. It was Hooker's fifth interception of the season, and second pick six (he had a third called back due to an illegal block).
8. Defensive back Denzel Ward was credited with three passes broken up. More like three dropped interceptions. Early in the 4th quarter, Ward cut in front of a slant pass at the Ohio State 5-yard line and had 95 yards of empty green turf ahead of him. Instead of coming up with the Buckeyes' third pick six of the game, Ward dropped the ball. That probably explains why he is playing on defense.
9. The Buckeye defensive plan was to shut down Nebraska's running game and make quarterback Tommy Armstrong beat them through the air. That plan worked to perfection, as Nebraska had 24 rushes for 78 yards (3.2 average) and Armstrong was 4 for 15 passing (26.7%) for 74 yards and an interception before leaving the game with a concussion. Back-up quarterback Ryker Fyfe (great name, no game) fared no better, going 5 for 18 (27.8%) for 52 yards and an interception.
10. After throwing a pick six on the third play of the game, Armstrong rebounded well with a 6-minute, 15-play, 72-yard drive that ended with a short field goal to cut the Buckeye lead to 7-3. On the ensuing drive, the Buckeyes faced 3rd-and-20 from the Nebraska 31-yard line. It turned out to be the game's pivotal moment. The Buckeyes were not yet in field goal range, and if Nebraska's defense could have held Ohio State scoreless on that drive then all the momentum would have swung to their side. But J.T. Barrett connected with Dontre Wilson for 22 yards to convert the long third down, and then Barrett would complete the touchdown drive three plays later with a 7-yard strike to Terry McLaurin. Now up 14-3, the Buckeyes had firmly taken control of the momentum and they would never let go.
11. Armstrong briefly gave the Huskers a glimmer of hope midway through the second quarter. Down 24-3 and facing 3rd-and-7 at the Ohio State 35-yard line, Armstrong rushed for 11 yards on a quarterback draw. As he was heading for the sidelines, Armstrong was ankle-tackled by a Buckeye defender and he landed awkwardly. Armstrong lay motionless for several minutes and he was carted off the field in a neck brace, but fortunately he was able to return to the stadium in street clothes after halftime. In any event, the Huskers lost their best player and team leader on that play, and any little bit of momentum that they were riding was quickly blown away.
12. The Buckeye defense held Nebraska to 5 for 16 (31.3%) on third down conversions. Four of those conversions came during Nebraska's lone scoring drive. It is never good to allow four 3rd down conversions on a single drive, but one of those conversions came courtesy of the referees on an iffy pass interference call, and another was on a tipped pass that went right to a Nebraska receiver.
13. The Buckeye defense forced seven 3-and-outs (5 punts, 2 pick sixes) and held Nebraska to just 204 total yards, 9 first downs, and 22:42 time of possession.
14. Ohio State's offense had nine drives, six of which resulted in touchdowns and two in fields goals. The final drive lasted 10 plays, gained 47 yards, and took the final 6:16 off of the clock. Ohio State did not punt once.
15. The one negative from last night: Dontre Wilson muffed another punt, which was recovered by Nebraska. Wilson was replaced on punt return duties first by Curtis Samuel, then by Demario McCall. It seems unlikely that we will see Wilson returning punts in upcoming games.
16. The last time Ohio State had such a large margin of victory against a Big Ten team was in the 2014 conference championship game, when the Buckeyes also beat the Wisconsin Badgers by 59 points. We all remember how that season turned out. Maybe last night's win is a good omen for the future.
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