Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield stole the show with 386 yards through the air and three touchdowns as part of an attack that chewed up 490 total yards.
Meanwhile, Ohio State managed 350 total yards including just 92 in the opening half as J.T. Barrett and the Buckeye passing attack found itself badly outclassed as Meyer and company chose to abandon the running game.
Though Ohio State's offense managed 13 points in the second half it was too little too late as Mayfield and company shredded the Buckeye defense for 28 points and capped their night by planting the Sooner flag at midfield.
As fun as it won't be to relive, here are Five Things from last night's debacle in Ohio Stadium.
HAS IT COME TO PASS?
Urban Meyer was defiant in his defense of J.T. Barrett during the postgame interview and anyone who follows Five Things knows I've been a Barrett defender (to the point of apologist) for the last couple years.
My personal defense has been the product of not just faith in Barrett but even more so a belief the right side of the line and the entire receiving corps were at least equally to blame.
Last night was Groundhog Day as Isaiah Prince was again a turnstyle in a pass pro against a legit opponent and Barrett's happy feet and indecisiveness had him throwing late to a group of receivers he still doesn't trust whatsoever, and who in my limited view once again didn't have a ton of separation.
And it didn't help that too many plays seemed hellbent on rolling to the short side of the field, toward a right tackle who can only run block, giving plays little time to develop.
The first half saw Barrett complete 5 of 11 throws for a mere 25 yards, complemented by 10 largely predictable quarterback runs, as Oklahoma dared the brain trust and players to execute anything more than 10 yards downfield.
Barrett went 14 of 24 in the second half for 158 yards with a pick and at least one near pick but most of that was in what was, in reality, garbage time aided by Oklahoma playing soft due to score and clock considerations.
The current formula in big games of relying on dink and dunk passing coupled with a ton of obvious QB runs while mostly ignoring talented running backs and the interior offensive line simply isn't good enough to beat a legit defense as we've seen against Clemson and Penn State last year, Michigan State the year before that and on and on.
So if Meyer is going to stick it out with Barrett – which for the record, I would too at this point – something schematically and/or on the personnel/coaching front at WR has to change or else it will be Groundhog Day again in about six weeks when Penn State rolls into town.
ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, IT SHOULD'VE BEEN WORSE
The scoreboard showed 31-16 but the reality is that it should've been more like 50-16 which could matter if Ohio State's playcalling, pass offense and pass defense get its collective shit together, a la 2014, over the course of the season.
Ohio State was beyond lucky to be tied at 3-3 going into halftime thanks to Oklahoma's continual self-inflicted wounds including:
- Turnover on Downs after a nine-play drive to the OSU 36 stalled via a questionable 4th-and-4 fade route that fell incomplete.
- Fumble on the 11th play of a drive reaching the OSU 23
- Fumble on the 5th play of a drive via a backward pass after reaching the OSU 48
- Missed FG on the 8th play of a drive after reaching the OSU 20
Those Sooner missteps somehow kept the final score within two possessions and if by some minor miracle Ohio State pulls it together and makes a run, the memory of what actually transpired last night could soften a bit over the next three months especially if Oklahoma makes a run.
MUSHY IN THE MIDDLE
The entire back seven looked lost but the linebackers in particular were a disaster in coverage.
Credit Mayfield and the Sooner offensive staff for repeatedly dialing up opportunities for Chris Worley, Dante Booker and Malik Harrison, in particular, to bite hard on play fakes and get lost in coverage against tight ends, backs and slot guys all night long.
Two particular daggers included Worley and Booker both getting out of position on Mayfield's 36-yard touchdown toss to Dimitri Flowers tying the game at 10-10 and Harrison getting roasted on an 18-yard touchdown to Lee Morris giving Oklahoma a 17-13 lead.
Similar issues occurred last week meaning there's plenty of work to do in coverage across the linebacking corps. Worley, to my admittedly untrained eye, was fairly solid in coverage last year but not so much through two games as the man in the middle.
Booker, in his fifth year, is a bigger concern going forward since his play has been marginal enough that Greg Schiano and company have inserted the true sophomore, Harrison, quite often though the combined results have been equally unsteady over the short sample size.
SHOWING SOME LEG
On a quest for positives, let's talk about punter Drue Chrisman and plackicker Sean Nuernberger.
Chrisman, a redshirt freshman, had another stellar evening with all four punts landing inside the 20 with a net of 45.8 and exactly zero return yards:
- Punt 1: 52 yards to the OU 9
- Punt 2: 36 yards to the OU 13
- Punt 3: 48 yards to the OU 13 (though a bunk kick catch interference penalty moved it to OU 28)
- Punt 4: 47 yards to the OU 8
Chrisman's excellent night comes on the heels of last week when he punted six times, landing three inside the 20 on a 45.3 yard average.
Through two games, Chrisman and the coverage team have yet to yield a return yard with seven of the 10 punts downed inside the 20.
On the scoring front, Nuernberger, who was a forgotten man on the roster and said to be in a dogfight with true freshman Blake Haubeil through spring and fall camp, converted 3 of 3 field goals last night, connecting from 24, 24 and 32 yards.
Those numbers build on last week's 2 for 2 performance (27, 19) giving Nuernberger a nice little streak – albeit via chip shots – to start the year.
This could be a significant development if Ohio State's offense is going to struggle converting in the red zone against good teams.
Props to both guys for being early bright spots.
SEASON ON THE BRINK?
As much as last night was a clown show, it's important to remember it's early.
Your confidence level could rival mine as far as whether or not the deficiencies can and will be addressed in time for it to matter but the reality is it's a long season.
|MICHIGAN ST '16
The blueprint is already there for an early loss to not prove fatal and Ohio State's strength of schedule at least provides an opportunity to get back into the mix.
That said, the previous blueprint relied on guys like Zeke, Mike Thomas, Devin Smith, Vonn Bell, Eli Apple, Darron Lee and others to step up and I'm not sure there are enough wide receivers, linebackers or defensive backs on the roster capable of matching the growth and production realized from the 2014 crop that bounced back from the Virginia Tech ambush.
Right now, the chief focus has to be on an offense that has averaged just 22 points over it's last five games which is boosted by the 49 against Indiana. Points have been tough to come by thanks to an average of 360 total yards per game which also received an Indiana-boost (596) but has otherwise failed to put up more then 350 yards in four of five games.
Hey, at least the sun came up this morning.