(Photo courtesy pinterest, game information courtesy Ohio State Athletic Dept, Cleveland.com, ESPN)
This game was probably the best Ohio State has looked in quite some time in their win against Nebraska. The Buckeyes made it look really easy with a 56-14 dismantling of the Huskers. The win moves Ohio State’s record to 6-1, 4-0 while Nebraska drops to 3-4, 2-2.
My takeaway from this game is this: that was one of the most sharp, crisp and efficient performances I’ve seen Ohio State have in quite a while. The Buckeyes were very efficient with everything they did and had control of this game pretty much from the beginning. Everything seemed so effortless for Ohio State.
It was a very good night for the offense, as the 56 points may indicate. The offense ran pretty close to Urban’s Golden Mean of a balanced attack. Ohio State ran 86 offensive plays; 47 rushing and 39 passing. Ohio State gained 633 net yards; 279 rushing and 354 passing. Offensively, this closely mirrored the Rutgers game.
J.T. Barrett looked better than ever. He appeared to be in complete control of the offense. I thought this was the sharpest Barrett has ever looked passing the ball. He was releasing the ball on time had good velocity and was hitting his receivers (in the hands) where they could make plays in full stride.
The Barrett-directed offense was close to flawless. In its first eight drives, the first team offense scored touchdowns eight times. That’s not 8 scores, that’s 8 touchdowns.
One wrinkle to the offense was the “Berry Package” where tight end Rashad Berry would line up in the backfield as a blocking back. It seemed to help the running game and didn’t hurt the passing game at all.
Dobbins and Weber had very good games and with the 31 completions spread to 11 different receivers, opponents will be challenged on “who” to defense and “how”. Granted, the offense still runs through Barrett, but as QB, you’d expect that.
The defense was overpowering against Nebraska. Te Buckeyes allowed 393 total net yards; 44 rushing and 349 passing. The Huskers were held to such a low rushing performance due to a really stout front seven, allowing 2,8 ypc and the flow of the game. The Huskers were behind early and often, which “encouraged” Nebraska to pass the ball more to get back into the game. Or, at least, to make it less embarrassing.
Prior to the game, Nebraska’s pass/run ratio was 49%/51%. Saturday’s 3:1 ratio was out of character and perhaps out of capability for the Huskers.
Despite the impressive performance, there were still a couple “teaching points” evident. On the 77 yard JD Spielman touchdown play, the Buckeyes were in some sort of zone coverage, but there was a good bit of standing around while the play was in progress. The other play was Damon Webb’s misplay on the last play of the first half. He appeared to try to ‘fair catch’ the interception rather than try to high-point the interception, or knock the damn thing down. De’Mornay Pierson-El almost came up with the TD reception.
I do want to tip my hat to Dante Booker for leading the team in tackles with 7; 3 solo and 4 assisted. The total may seem a bit low, but Nebraska ran only 63 plays compared to Ohio State’s 86 plays. The next four leading Buckeye tacklers (Jordan Fuller, Denzel Ward, Damon Webb and Kendall Sheffield) are all defensive backs. Normally, you don’t want DB’s being leading tacklers, but since the Huskers threw the ball 47 times, 75% of their plays, it’s understandable.
I didn’t think they didn’t too badly in their limited appearances. There were no punt returns by either team, nor were there any field goal attempts.
Place kicker Sean Nuernberger was 8 – 8 on extra point attempts. During the game, Sean established a Big Ten record with his 142nd consecutive made extra point. That’s amazing. Congratulations to Sean and to the entire placement team. Wow.
Western New York favorite kick-off specialist Blake Haubeil had quite a busy evening. As in the Rutgers game, he had 9 kickoffs, averaging 56 yards with a net of 43 and two touchbacks.
He did hook the opening kickoff out of bounds, giving the ball to Nebraska at the 35, causing Urban a look of dismay.
However, I think that error was on the coaches. True, Blake was the person that actually kicked it out of play, but he was set up to fail by the staff. Launching any ball (football, golf ball, etc) into the wind is going to accentuate the amount of curvature. So, why the staff wanted Blake to “finesse” a hook into the wind is a mystery. The staff wised up on subsequent kicks into the wind with pooch and punch kickoffs.
I want to tip my hat to Nebraska’s JD Spielman, nephew of Chris Spielman (yes, that Chris Spielman) for an outstanding effort. He set a Nebraska record with 200 receiving yards in 11 receptions and a touchdown. He also contributed 60 yards in kickoff returns and was credited with 1 yard rushing. Young Mr. Spielman had a very busy and productive evening.
The penalties were fairly well cleaned up, side from a couple pass interference calls and he occasional hold / off-sides. I think the reduced penalties is another indicator of Ohio State’s sharpness Saturday night.
Next week is an off week, then Saturday October 28th is a biggie. The Buckeyes host the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Nitts are currently 6-0 overall and 3-0 in B1G play and will play next week in Ann Arbor.
The kickoff for Penn State vs Ohio State is set for 3:30 pm ET. You’ll have plenty of time to get your leaves raked before then, but don’t mess around too much. You can also watch the game on FOX (check local listings) and/or listen to it on 97.1.