Some Post-Game Thoughts
1. After being tied 14-14 with 8:24 left in the 2nd quarter, Ohio State outscored Nebraska 38-3 over the rest of the game. Ohio State started slow and sloppy, Nebraska started hot and played hard. The talent gap between the two programs is literally amazing. There are plenty of third-stringers on Ohio State who would start (or see significant playing time) for Nebraska.
2. Justin Fields was 20/21 for 276 yards and 2 TDs. His only incompletion was a "drop" by Chris Olave on a 43-yard pass into the end zone. It was definitely a tough catch, but an All American caliber receiver should have come down with the ball. If Olave does so, then Fields is a perfect 21/21 for 319 yards, 3 TDs, and an off-the-charts QB rating.
3. Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave were the primary beneficiaries of Fields' outstanding performance, as Wilson had 7 receptions for 129 yards and a TD, while Olave had 6 receptions for 104 yards. The rest of the receiving corps didn't do much, although true freshmen Julian Fleming (1 reception, 13 yards) and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (2 receptions, 5 yards) each made the first reception of his Buckeye career. Smith-Njigba's second reception was a 5-yard TD where he was barely able to get his foot down in the end zone, a play reminiscent of Michael Thomas's famous catch against Alabama in 2014.
4. Fields also had 15 rushes for a team-high 54 yards and another TD. Those would be acceptable numbers if it were 2016 and our QB were JT Barrett. The Buckeyes need to find a running game from their tailbacks, none of whom had a good (or even a decent) game: Trey Sermon 11 carries, 48 yards, no TDs; Master Teague 12 carries, 41 yards, 2 TDs; Steele Chambers 4 carries, 32 yards, 0 TDs; Xavier Johnson (a walk-on who played on the final drive) 4 carries, 17 yards, no TDs. As a unit, the Buckeyes tailbacks had 31 carries for 138 yards (4.45 average), with 2 TDs, and a long run of just 17 yards. Are we going to miss JK Dobbins this season?
5. In an interesting move, true freshman QB Jack Miller relieved Fields at the end of the game and led the Buckeyes on their final scoring drive. Miller played before both Gunnar Hoak, who was on the team last season and played in 5 games, and fellow true freshman CJ Stroud, who was the much more highly-rated prospect. Miller did not attempt a pass, but he did have the Ohio State's longest run of the game (21 yards) and scored his first Buckeye TD on a 2-yard run with 18 seconds left in the game.
6. Ohio State was 10 of 15 on 3rd- and 4th-down conversions (66.7%), which is extremely good. On the other side of the field, Nebraska was 4 for 10 (40.0%). Ohio State also won the total yardage battle (491 to 370), first downs (28 to 17), and time of possession (33:14 to 26:46).
7. The Ohio State defense looked positively awful on Nebraska's first drive, then progressed to mediocre by the end of the first half. After the Buckeyes scored on their first possession of the second half to take a 31-14 lead, Nebraska's playbook shrunk and the Buckeye defense was able to tee off a bit. Still, the Buckeyes were killed by designed QB runs from Adrian Martinez (13 attempts, 85 yards, TD) and Luke McCaffrey (9 attempts, 80 yards), and passes to the tight end. Opposing offensive coordinators will not fail to notice these holes in the Buckeye defense, and good teams will exploit them much more so than a bottom feeder Big Ten team.
8. Defensive back Sevyn Banks scored on a 55-yard fumble recovery, which is tied for 5th-longest in Buckeye history. Banks also scored on a 33-yard blocked punt (longest in Buckeye history) against Michigan in 2018
9. Ohio State had only 3 penalties for 15 yards, while Nebraska had 8 penalties for 90 yards. Nebraska had four targetings - two called and upheld; one called and reversed; one obvious but not called that led to a concussion for Chris Olave. I understand that Scott Frost is trying to make Nebraska a tougher, meaner, more aggressive team, but headhunting isn't the way to do it in this era of college football.
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