It wasn’t the dominant showing that Ohio State fans would have liked to see after the loss to Purdue and the bye week, but the Buckeyes did get back in the win column at Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
Despite trailing 21-16 at halftime, Ohio State battled back in the second half and hung on despite two fourth-quarter Nebraska scores for a 36-31 victory over the Cornhuskers.
The Buckeyes fell right into a deficit in Saturday’s game, as Adrian Martinez led Nebraska straight down the field on its opening possession of the game, running the ball seven times for 46 yards and completing his first three passes for 25 yards before Devine Ozigbo capped off the 12-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
|#10 OHIO STATE||16||0||14||6||36|
Nebraska botched an onside kick attempt following its opening touchdown, giving Ohio State the ball at the 31-yard line. The Buckeyes failed to come away with any points despite that prime field position, however, running the ball four straight times on its opening possession – including on 4th-and-2 – and failing to gain a first down.
After Ohio State’s defense forces a 3-and-out on Nebraska’s second possession, the Buckeyes’ special teams delivered a big play when Keandre Jones came up with a blocked punt, and the ball rolled all the way through the end zone for a safety, giving two points to the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes took advantage of the momentum change on their ensuing offensive possession, as Dwayne Haskins found a wide-open Johnnie Dixon for a 42-yard touchdown pass to put the Buckeyes up 9-7. Ohio State’s running game showed some much-needed life on the Buckeyes’ next possession, as J.K. Dobbins followed up a 16-yard run deep in opposing territory with a 10-yard touchdown run to put the Buckeyes ahead 16-7 before the end of the first quarter.
|481||NET TOTAL YARDS||450|
|5.7||AVERAGE PER RUSH||3.8|
|14.0||AVERAGE PER COMPLETION||12.1|
|11||RUSHING 1st DOWNS||11|
|10||PASSING 1st DOWNS||14|
|2||PENALTY 1st DOWNS||2|
|6.7||YARDS PER PLAY||5.5|
|3 (14)||TURNOVERS (DEF PTS OFF)||1 (0)|
Nebraska gave Ohio State’s defense a break on its next possession, driving all the way inside the Buckeyes’ 10-yard line but turning the ball over when Martinez made an ill-fated decision to try to throw a pass to an unsuspecting JD Spielman, resulting in a fumble that was recovered by Jonathon Cooper.
Following an exchange of punts by both teams, Ohio State put together another drive into Nebraska territory, highlighted by a 26-yard connection between Haskins and Dixon. Two plays later, though, Haskins took a hard hit from an unblocked rusher and lost the ball on a strip sack, with Nebraska recovering the fumble.
Nebraska took advantage of the turnover with a 10-play, 64-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Martinez, to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 16-14 with 4:52 to play in the first half.
A K.J. Hill fumble on Ohio State’s next possession gave Nebraska the chance to take a lead before halftime, and the Cornhuskers took advantage, driving 47 yards in eight plays – capped by a 2-yard Martinez touchdown run – to take a 21-16 advantage into the break.
Ohio State started the second half with a promising drive into the red zone, but that drive came to an end without points when Haskins threw an interception to Lamar Jackson in the end zone, eliciting a displeased reaction from Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day:
Finally, on their next possession, the Buckeyes took their first lead of the second half with an eight-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 3-yard Dobbins touchdown run on which Ohio State brought Wyatt Davis into the game as a sixth offensive lineman.
Two drives later, a 37-yard run by Mike Weber set up a 9-yard shovel pass touchdown for Parris Campbell that extended Ohio State’s lead to 30-21 before the end of the third quarter.
After Ohio State went three-and-out on its first two possessions of the fourth quarter, Martinez connected with Stanley Morgan Jr. on a 46-yard deep ball to get Nebraska back into the red zone. From there, however, Ohio State’s defense was able to hold the Cornhuskers to an 18-yard field goal.
Ohio State finally seized a two-score lead with 4:52 left to play in the contest, when Dobbins broke through the Nebraska defense for a wide-open lane to a 42-yard touchdown, giving Ohio State a 12-point advantage after an unsuccessful attempt to scramble for a 2-point conversion by Haskins.
The Buckeyes defense allowed Martinez to march the Cornhuskers right back down the field, though, as Nebraska went 75 yards in just seven plays, capped with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Martinez to Spielman, to cut Ohio State’s lead back to five with just 2:57 to play.
From there, however, Ohio State was able to ice the game with its running game, surviving the contest for a 36-31 win.
Dobbins finished the game with 163 rushing yards and three touchdowns to lead Ohio State to victory. Brendon White and Malik Harrison led the Buckeyes with 13 tackles each, a career-high for both players.
Now holding an 8-1 record for the season, Ohio State will look to improve to 9-1 next Saturday at Michigan State. Kickoff time for next Saturday's game in East Lansing is expected to be announced late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
- A large group of Ohio State recruits were on hand for Saturday's game, including commits Garrett Wilson and Paris Johnson Jr. and targets Zach Harrison and Marcus Crowley, among many others.
- Shaun Wade made his first start at safety (and his second start overall) in place of Isaiah Pryor, who did not play in Saturday's game.
- Other players who did not play in Saturday's game due to injuries included cornerbacks Jeffrey Okudah and Cameron Brown, wide receiver C.J. Saunders, defensive end Tyler Friday and kicker Sean Nuernberger.
- Jordan Fuller, Ohio State's other starting safety, was disqualified from the game in the second quarter for a targeting penalty. White replaced him in the lineup at safety, while Amir Riep also saw playing time at safety – with Wade at slot cornerback – when the Buckeyes went into their nickel defense. Because the penalty occurred in the first half, Fuller will be eligible to play the entire game next week against Michigan State.
- Ohio State women's basketball great Katie Smith, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this year, was honored at Ohio Stadium between the first and second quarters.
- Dobbins surpassed the 2,000-yard rushing mark for his career in Saturday's game.
- 104,245 was the official attendance for Saturday's game.
- With 18 completions Saturday, Haskins broke Ohio State's single-season record for pass completions on Saturday, surpassing the previous record of 240 set by J.T. Barrett in 2017, and now has 242 completions on the year.
- The Buckeyes rushed for 233 yards against the Huskers, marking the second-most in a game this season and the most since the opener against Oregon State.
- Dixon’s 42-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter marked his fifth touchdown catch of the year. He tied his career-high with five catches; he previously caught five passes against Indiana earlier this season.
- Dobbins had his second multi-touchdown game of his career after scoring twice against Army in 2017. Dobbins became the second player to run for three touchdowns in a game this season; Weber scored three times against Oregon State.
- Dobbins and Weber are the first running back duo on the same team in school history with 2,000 career rushing yards.
- Campbell is now tied with Terry McLaurin for the team lead with eight touchdown receptions.