The Dwayne Haskins era for Ohio State's offense started in spectacular fashion at Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
It wasn't such a great day for Ohio State's defense, but the Buckeyes still earned a convincing win anyways.
Ohio State’s new starting quarterback completed 22 of 30 passes for 313 yards and five touchdowns, and led the Buckeyes on eight touchdown drives on a day that they scored 11 touchdowns, to lead the way to a 77-31 victory over Oregon State in their opening game of the season.
After Nick Bosa recovered an Oregon State fumble on the Beavers’ first possession, Haskins quickly marched the Ohio State offense down the field on a five-play, 57-yard drive, highlighted by a 27-yard pass from Haskins to Terry McLaurin and followed by a 2-yard touchdown pass from Haskins to McLaurin two plays later.
Ohio State's defense looked immediately vulnerable, though, as Oregon State answered back on its next possession with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Conor Blount to Trevon Bradford, tying the game at 7-7. With Jordan Fuller sidelined for Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury, and Isaiah Pryor and Jahsen Wint starting at safety in his absence, Bradford got wide open over the middle for a deep catch and was able to stroll into the end zone.
Ohio State’s offense marched right back down the field on its next possession as Mike Weber capped an eight-play, 65-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown run, putting the Buckeyes back ahead, 14-7.
Ohio State went 75 yards in eight plays on its third possession, capping that drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Haskins to Rashod Berry, to extend its lead to 21-7.
The Buckeyes defense, meanwhile, was able to force punts on back-to-back possessions, thanks to sacks by Bosa and Dre'Mont Jones. Oregon State got the ball back at the 24-yard line, however, after Damon Arnette collided with C.J. Saunders on the second punt, resulting in a fumble. But the Beavers weren’t able to take advantage of the prime field position, as Jordan Choukair missed a 43-yard field goal attempt.
Ohio State extended its lead to 28-7 on the next possession, as Weber broke free from the Beavers defense for a 49-yard touchdown run to extend the Buckeyes’ lead to 28-7.
The Buckeyes threw a wrinkle into their offense to start their fifth possession, putting Tate Martell into the game in place of Haskins at quarterback, but that lasted for only two plays, as Haskins checked back in on 3rd-and-8 and promptly completed an 18-yard pass to K.J. Hill. From there, the Ohio State offense sliced its way down the field again for its fifth straight touchdown drive to the game, concluding with a 3-yard pop pass from Haskins to Weber for each of their third touchdowns of the game.
Ohio State was finally forced to punt for the first time in the game on its sixth offensive possession, when Haskins and the entire first-team offense was substituted out of the game in favor of Martell and other backups. But after Drue Chrisman’s first punt of the day traveled 65 yards and was downed at the 3-yard line by McLaurin, Pete Werner forced a fumble on a sack in the end zone and Bosa recovered his second fumble of the day for the first touchdown of his career, extending the Buckeyes’ lead to 42-7.
At that point, it appeared the rout was officially on. But Oregon State's offense didn't go away quietly.
The Beavers put together an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on their next possession, capped by a 7-yard pass from Blount to Bradford with Pryor in coverage, to cut the Buckeyes' lead to 42-14 before halftime.
|Ohio State||Oregon State|
|721||NET TOTAL YARDS||392|
|7.1||AVERAGE PER RUSH||5.0|
|13.8||AVERAGE PER COMPLETION||14.0|
|18||RUSHING 1st DOWNS||6|
|14||PASSING 1st DOWNS||7|
|3||PENALTY 1st DOWNS||2|
|8.3||YARDS PER PLAY||6.2|
After a one-hour and 12-minute weather delay before the start of the second half, as rain poured into Ohio Stadium and lightning strikes were spotted in the area, Ohio State’s offense picked up right where it left off once the game resumed, as Haskins connected with McLaurin for a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the half.
Oregon State responded with a one-play touchdown drive of its own, though, as Artavis Pierce bounced off a missed tackle by freshman Ohio State defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson and ran for an 80-yard touchdown on the Beavers’ first offensive play of the third quarter, bringing the score to 49-21.
Haskins led the Buckeyes on yet another touchdown drive down the field on their next possession, capping it with a shovel pass to Parris Campbell that went for an 8-yard score. But Pierce broke free from Ohio State’s defense again on Oregon State’s subsequent possession, running for a 78-yard touchdown.
Haskins made his first big mistake on Ohio State's next possession, overthrowing Johnnie Dixon while being hit as he threw, resulting in an interception by Oregon State safety Shawn Wilson. Haskins showed some tackling ability on Wilson's return, forcing a fumble with a big hit, but Beavers cornerback Kaleb Hayes scooped up the loose ball and returned it all the way to Ohio State's 19-yard line before being tackled by right tackle Isaiah Prince. The Buckeyes' defense was able to hold the Beavers to a field goal after the turnover.
That cut Ohio State's lead to 56-31, but Haskins and the Buckeyes went 79 yards in 11 plays back down the field for their eighth touchdown drive on their next possession, as Weber ran the ball into the end zone from four yards out for his fourth and final score of the game.
Weber finished the game with 186 rushing yards on 20 carries. McLaurin led all Ohio State receivers with 121 yards and two touchdowns on four catches.
With the second-team offense back in the game after that, true freshman running backs Brian Snead and Master Teague scored the Buckeyes' final two touchdowns of the day, with Snead's coming from two yards out and Teague's coming from 33 yards out, as Teague bounced off contact at the line of scrimmage before breaking free into open field.
Saturday's win came without head coach Urban Meyer, serving the first game of a three-game suspension, and was acting head coach Ryan Day's first career game and win as a head coach.
With Day calling the shots from the sidelines once again, Ohio State will look to improve to 2-0 next Saturday, when the Buckeyes host Rutgers at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
- Haskins is the first Ohio State quarterback to ever throw for more than 300 yards in his first start, and the first to throw five touchdown passes or more in his first start. It was the 30th 300-yard passing performance in Ohio State history.
- Weber's 186 rushing yards and McLaurin's 121 receiving yards were both career-highs.
- True freshman defensive linemen Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday, Taron Vincent and Tommy Togiai all saw playing time with the first-team defense on Saturday, with Smith seeing snaps in the Rushmen package.
- Other true freshmen who saw playing time before halftime on Saturday included running back Brian Snead, wide receiver Chris Olave, tight end Jeremy Ruckert and right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere on offense, and linebackers Dallas Gant and K'Vaughan Pope on special teams.
- Baron Browning started at middle linebacker in place of Tuf Borland, who suffered an Achilles injury this spring, but Borland checked into the game for the Ohio State defense on its fourth series.
- Other players who made their first career starts included Haskins, Werner, Pryor, Wint, tight end Luke Farrell, left tackle Thayer Munford, left guard Malcolm Pridgeon, defensive end Jonathon Cooper and defensive tackle Robert Landers.
- Johnnie Dixon and C.J. Saunders lined up as Ohio State's kickoff returners in the first half on Saturday, while Saunders was also the first-half punt returner. Demario McCall took over kickoff and punt returning duties in the second half.
- Bosa, Borland, Dixon and Prince were Saturday's game captains.
- Browning, Werner, Okudah, Pryor, Marcus Williamson, Austin Mack, Keandre Jones, Dante Booker, Justin Hilliard and Amir Riep joined Blake Haubeil on the field for the opening kickoff.
- Saturday's weather delay was the third weather delay in 27 games for Ohio State, as the Buckeyes' games against both Tulsa and Oklahoma in 2016 were also delayed. Before that, an Ohio State game had not been delayed due to weather since its game against USC in 1990.
- The official attendance for Saturday's game was 102,169, though most of those fans had left the stadium by the time the second half started after the weather delay.
- Saturday's win was Ohio State's 19th consecutive season-opening victory, the longest active streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
- Saturday was the second time in three years that Ohio State scored 77 points in its season opener (Bowling Green, 2016), tying the school record for a season opener. Ohio State's 721 yards were the second-most in any game in school history, behind 776 in the Bowling Green game.