1. In just the third meeting ever between the two football powerhouses, Ohio State invaded Norman, Oklahoma, and pounded the Sooners by the score of 45-24. The Buckeyes now lead the series two games to one, with victories last night and in 1983 (24-14) and a loss in 1977 (29-28).
2. The Buckeyes dominated on offense, racking up 443 total yards on 68 plays (6.5 yards per play) and scoring 38 points. The ground attack was especially strong, as freshman Mike Weber rushed for 123 yards on 18 carries (6.8 ypc) and Curtis Samuel provided some big play spark with 11 rushes for 98 yards (8.9 ypc) and a 36-yard touchdown. Quarterback JT Barrett didn't post spectacular numbers (74 yards rushing, 152 yards passing) but he generally made good decisions, protected the football, and hooked up with wide receiver Noah Brown for four touchdown passes (4, 8, 21, and 37 yards). The offensive line got the job done up front (6.4 yards per rush) and allowed only one sack on the night.
3. Oklahoma put up some decent numbers on offense (67 plays, 404 yards, 6.0 average), but they were stymied by four huge plays by the Buckeye defense, three of which came on fourth downs. With 4:34 left in the first quarter and the Sooners facing 4th-and-3 from the Ohio State 33-yard line, QB Baker Mayfield was pressured by Buckeye defensive lineman Jalyn Holmes. Holmes was given a free release by a confused Sooner offensive line and he was in Mayfield's face before the Sooner QB could set his feet. Holmes just missed a sack but he was able to deflect Mayfield's hurried pass to linebacker Jerome Baker, who took the interception 68 yards for the touchdown. The pick six gave the Buckeyes a 14-0 lead and provided them with momentum that the never relinquished.
4. The second huge defensive play came with 6:10 left in the first half. On 2nd-and-4 from the Sooner 20-yard line, Mayfield tested the Buckeye secondary deep. It turned out to be a very bad decision, as the scrambling Mayfield simply did not have the arm strength to get the ball past Buckeye cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who displayed excellent closing speed on the play. Lattimore returned the interception 21 yards to the Sooner 37-yard line and on the very next play J.T. Barrett hit Noah Brown in the end zone to put the Buckeyes up 28-10. Ballgame.
5. The Buckeye defense forced three sacks, two of them coming on fourth downs in the fourth quarter when the Sooners still had a semblance of a chance to win the game (or at least to make the final score respectable). With 13:27 left to play and Oklahoma trailing 42-24, Sam Hubbard and Jerome Baker combined to sack Mayfield for a 12-yard loss on 4th-and-7 near midfield. After the turnover on downs, the Buckeyes kicked a field goal to push their lead out to three touchdowns. On the very next series, the Sooners went four-and-out with Jerome Baker again coming up with the fourth down sack. Garbage time ensued.
6. Special teams was pretty much a draw. The Buckeyes' had three miscues on kickoffs, with the 97-yard TD return by Joe Mixon being a huge blunder. With 10:33 left in the game, Ohio State had just kicked a field goal to take a commanding 45-24 lead. Then Oklahoma began its next drive at midfield after a kickoff out-of-bounds by Tyler Durbin and an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Chris Worley. The dual penalties gave Oklahoma 25 free yards and excellent field position, which is not what you want to do when you've got your opponent about to tap out. Ultimately it didn't much matter as the Sooners went four-and-out and turned the ball over on downs, but championship teams aren't forged from stupid plays.
7. On the positive side, punter Cameron Johnston had five punts for an average of 50.6 yards, with a long of 68 yards (a real momentum changer at the time), and with all five being downed inside the 20-yard line (no punt return yards). Johnston is 2nd in the nation in net punting, with 11 punts for 557 yards and just 18 return yards and one touchback, for a net of 47.18 yards per punt.
8. Outside of the huge kickoff return, the Sooners' special teams weren't so special. The Sooners missed a 27-yard field goal on their first drive (another momentum swing) and their punter managed only 37.0 yards on three punts (long of 45) with none making it inside the 20-yard line.
9. The talk all preseason was this: The Buckeyes are very talented but they are very young. Who will step up to replace legends like Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Thomas and Darron Lee? And how quickly will these young players emerge? Well, I think that we now have some answers. Michael Weber is no Zeke at this point, but he appears to be a tough inside runner with just enough speed and shake to break the occasional big play. And this Buckeye offense doesn't really need many big plays from Weber because Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson can certainly supply that. Of course, Noah Brown had a huge night against Oklahoma with four touchdown receptions (tying a Buckeye record), but several other receivers have also shown flashes already this season. On defense, the re-tooled secondary has been lights out, with Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker making big plays on a routine basis. Defensive ends Jalyn Holmes and Sam Hubbard have been especially disruptive, and tackle Robert Landers has been a force inside. And then there's Jerome Baker, who had a game for the ages against Oklahoma with three plays that killed Sooner drives (a pick six and a pair of sacks on fourth downs) and resulted in ten points for Ohio State.
10. The 2016 Buckeyes returned only six starters from last year's team. One of those six was quarterback J.T. Barrett, and he was reason that I wasn't particularly worried about this current team. With Barrett running the show, the Buckeyes will have a chance to beat anybody in the country. Barrett (270 total yards, 4.3 total touchdowns per game) has been more of a game manager so far, but with all the playmakers surrounding him that's all he really needs to do in this offense.
11. On the other side of the ball, the lone returning star was middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan. Although Kwon's numbers have been rather pedestrian to date (8 solos, 12 assists, 1.5 TFLs), he is the glue that holds the defense together. Much like Barrett on offense, McMillan manages the defense by locking down the middle of the field so that the players around him - Hooker, Lattimore, Baker, et al - can make the big plays.
12. It's obviously still early, but Ohio State is 10th in the nation in total offense, with 545.3 yards per game, and 3rd in scoring offense, with 56.7 points per game (23 TDs, 23 PATs, 3 FGs).
13. Four of the Buckeyes' 23 touchdowns have come courtesy of the defense, which already equals the total from all of last season. All four defensive touchdowns have come by way of interceptions (Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore, Rodjay Burns, and Jerome Baker with one apiece).
14. The Buckeye defense ranks 19th in the nation in total defense, with 278.7 yards per game. However, the Silver Bullets are allowing just 4.02 yards per play, which is 9th best in FBS. The scoring defense ranks 11th in the nation at 12.3 points per game. Again, that stat is somewhat misleading, as 14 of the 37 points surrendered by the Buckeyes came on defense (pick six by Bowling Green) or special teams (kickoff return by Oklahoma). Opposing offenses have scored just 23 points in three games, for an average of 7.7 points per game.
15. The Buckeyes lead the nation in total turnovers forced with eleven (9 INT, 2 FR); turnover margin with nine; and defensive touchdowns with four.
16. One area that needs to be addressed is penalties. The Buckeyes are 117th in the nation with 29 total penalties, and 98th with 208 penalty yards. Fortunately, many of the penalties so far have been procedural against the offense, and these should start to diminish as the young players gain experience and begin to gel as a unit.
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