Three Key Stats: Ohio State's Third Down Efficiency, Red Zone Prowess and Fact it Has Curtis Samuel Leads to Romp Over Nebraska

By Eric Seger on November 6, 2016 at 12:55 am
Three key stats from Ohio State's romp over Nebraska.

In a way, Ohio State's game against Nebraska ended even before the Buckeye offense ever had the ball.

Raekwon McMillan tipped Tommy Armstrong Jr.'s first pass attempt, Damon Webb nabbed it out of the cool Columbus air and raced 36 yards to the end zone to put Ohio State out front 7-0 not even 90 seconds into the game. With momentum on their side, Buckeyes didn't do much wrong the rest of the night on the way to a 62-3 victory against the No. 10 Cornhuskers, who lost their quarterback in the second quarter when he slammed his head to the turf on a 3rd down run.

The Buckeyes ran the ball effectively in the second half following a 75-yard touchdown pass from J.T. Barrett to Curtis Samuel on the first play from scrimmage. Ohio State led 31-3 at intermission and the Buckeyes finished with 590 total yards.

Here are three key statistics that led to Ohio State's convincing win on Saturday night.

Curtis Samuel, Curtis Samuel, Curtis Samuel

This story almost revolved completely around Ohio State's explosive playmaker at H-back but a dominant team victory deserved more attention. That being said, Samuel again showed why he is such a difference maker for the Buckeyes and a matchup problem for everyone else.

Samuel finished the game with 173 all-purpose yards and a pair of receiving touchdowns. He scored on consecutive offensive plays from scrimmage—first on a 1-yard jump pass from Barrett with 3 seconds left in the first half and then again on a 75-yard bomb on the first play after intermission.

Samuel touched the ball on Ohio State's first two plays from scrimmage, first catching a 9-yard pass from Barrett then running for 16. His inclusion in the offense was apparent from the get-go. Meyer removed his star from the lineup in the third quarter. Had he not, Samuel easily could have racked up more than 200 total yards. Not bad considering the performance came against a top-10 team and the fourth-ranked defense in the Big Ten.

Ohio State 11-for-15 on 3rd Down

The Buckeyes went into halftime with a nearly perfect third down conversion rate, moving the sticks seven times on eight tries in the first 30 minutes. As usual, Barrett played a key role in those conversions, either evading pressure to fire a strike to his receiver or do it himself with his legs to move the chains.

The efficiency continued in the second half, even though Ohio State didn't always need three downs to gain 10 yards. Pretty much everything worked for the offense on Saturday night. It didn't necessarily matter the down and distance.

But when 3rd downs happened, Ohio State converted most of them.

Ohio State 6-of-6 on Red Zone Scoring, Nebraska 1-of-3

Ohio State didn't punch it into the end zone to cap each one of its drives but it also never punted in the game. So the only time the Buckeyes did not put points on the board when they had the ball was in the middle of the second quarter when Dontre Wilson muffed a punt at the 40-yard line.

On the flip side, the Cornhuskers only converted one of the three drives that actually made it inside Ohio State's 20-yard line into points. That happened in the first quarter, when Drew Brown made a 20-yard field goal after a 15-play drive that lasted more than 5 minutes.

Nebraska had 1st-and-goal from the Ohio State 2-yard line but forced a loss on a carry by Terrell Newby and two incompletions by Armstrong. Red zone stops by Ohio State's defense came on the ensuing drive following Wilson's fumble and then in the 4th quarter when second- and third-string defenders stood up Jordan Westerkamp at the 2-yard line to keep him both out of the end zone and short of the line to gain.

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