For the first 10 minutes of Saturday’s season opener at Ohio Stadium, it looked as though the game would be an absolute rout.
Ohio State scored touchdowns on each of its first four possessions of the game to take a 28-0 lead just over halfway through the first quarter, and it looked as though Florida Atlantic could be sent home absolutely embarrassed.
Ohio State ended up being outscored in the final three quarters of the game, but the Buckeyes still finished with a 45-21 advantage to win Ryan Day’s first official game as Ohio State’s head coach and Justin Fields’ first game as Ohio State’s starting quarterback.
|#5 OHIO STATE||28||0||7||10||45|
Fields’ Ohio State career couldn’t have started off much better, as he accounted for all four of the Buckeyes’ first-quarter touchdowns. After running for a 51-yard touchdown on his first drive as Ohio State’s starting quarterback, Fields completed touchdown passes to Jeremy Ruckert, Binjimen Victor and Chris Olave – all from at least 25 yards out, though they were all wide open – on each of the Buckeyes’ next three possessions.
Defensively, the Buckeyes started just as hot, forcing three-and-outs on each of their first four series. FAU finished the first quarter with a net total of minus-4 yards.
Ohio State’s offense cooled off after its first four possessions, though, failing to score on its next seven possessions. Two of those series ended with Buckeye fumbles recovered by FAU; one when Garrett Wilson dropped a backward pass, which counts as a fumble, and one by J.K. Dobbins.
The Buckeyes’ defense shut out the Owls for their first eight possessions of the game, forcing them to punt on all of those possessions for a net loss of 29 yards. Following Dobbins’ fumble, which gave FAU the ball just 25 yards away from the end zone, Vladimir Rivas put the Owls on the board with a 28-yard field goal to give the visitors three points before halftime.
FAU started off the second half with a drive to the Buckeyes’ 11-yard line, but Ohio State was able to hold deep in its own territory again to force Rivas to settle for another 28-yard field goal.
After a seven-possession drought, Ohio State finally got back on the board on its second offensive series of the third quarter with a 10-play, 52-yard drive, capped off by a 3-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Ruckert – Fields’ fourth touchdown pass and Ruckert’s second touchdown catch of the game.
|OHIO STATE||FLORIDA ATLANTIC|
|469||NET TOTAL YARDS||228|
|4.9||AVERAGE PER RUSH||0.7|
|12.2||AVERAGE PER COMPLETION||7.9|
|14||RUSHING 1st DOWNS||4|
|9||PASSING 1st DOWNS||12|
|1||PENALTY 1st DOWNS||1|
|6.3||YARDS PER PLAY||3.1|
|2||TURNOVERS (DEF PTS OFF)||1|
FAU responded by scoring its first touchdown of the game with 13:23 to play in the fourth quarter on a 15-play, 75-yard drive. After the 3-yard touchdown run by Larry McCammon, Chris Robison hit a two-point conversion pass to John Mitchell – who was left open in the end zone after Robison scrambled back to about the 30-yard line and threw the pass back across his body – to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 35-14.
An unsuccessful onside kick gave the Buckeyes the ball back at FAU’s 40-yard line, and Ohio State took advantage of the short field, capping off a seven-play drive with Dobbins running for his first touchdown of the year.
FAU marched right back down the field for an eight-play, 76-yard touchdown drive on its next possession, though, after Ohio State put its backups in the game on defense to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 42-21 with 8:16 to play.
Blake Haubeil hit his first field goal of the season, from 46 yards out, for the final points of the game.
Josh Proctor ended FAU’s final possession of the game with a diving interception on a deep ball for the Buckeyes’ only takeaway of the game.
Ohio State will look to improve to 2-0 next Saturday when it hosts Cincinnati at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for noon and the game will be televised on ABC.
- Jordan Fuller, Tuf Borland, J.K. Dobbins and K.J. Hill were the game captains for Saturday's coin toss.
- Demario McCall started the game at both kickoff and punt returner for the Buckeyes.
- The Buckeyes' offense started the game in a two-tight end set, so Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert both started the game for Ohio State, with Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor at wide receiver.
- Ohio State's defense started the game with Brendon White on the field at bullet, two cornerbacks (Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette) and only one deep safety (Jordan Fuller). White and Shaun Wade substituted with each other, with Wade playing primarily as a slot cornerback, throughout the first half.
- The official attendance for Saturday's game: 103,228.
- Ruckert's two touchdown catches were the first two touchdown catches of his career. He had just one catch as a true freshman last season.
- Defensive ends Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday, who were listed as game-time decisions on Friday's status report, did not play in Saturday's game.
- Ohio State has now won 20 consecutive season openers, the longest active streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and 32 consecutive noon games.