Ryan Day's Buckeyes dominated from start to finish, spoiling Luke Fickell's return the Shoe, as Justin Fields, J.K. Dobbins and a upstart defense overwhelmed the Bearcats at every turn in a 42-0 thrashing of the Bearcats yesterday in Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes racked up 508 yards of offense including 270 on the ground while the defense stopped Cincinnati on 11-of-14 third down conversion attempts and turned them away without points on three red zone trips.
The win improved Ohio State to 2-0 on the young season and sets up a date with Big Ten foe Indiana next Saturday in Bloomington but before we turn the page to the Hoosiers, here are Five Things from an absolute ass-kicking of Cincinnati.
J.K. Gotta Say Today Was A Good Day
A week after averaging just 4.3 yards per carry against Florida Atlantic and having Ryan Day challenge both his vision and ability to generate yards after contact, J.K. Dobbins responded with 141 yards on 17 first half carries, good for 8.3 yards per carry against the Bearcats.
Dobbins added a pair of touchdowns on the ground as well, one coming via a 60-yard jaunt around left end making it 21-0 midway through the second quarter. That score came on the heels of a 4-yard plunge giving him touchdowns on back-to-back carries.
He also added a pair of 8-yard runs, a 12-yard burst and a 24-yard tote, oftentimes finding lanes created by left tackle Thayer Munford.
Last weekend, too many of his carries were meant to go up the gut behind left guard Jonah Jackson and center Josh Myers who simply aren't the road-graders Munford is. Today, Dobbins feasted behind Ohio State's best lineman.
Overall, hell of a bounceback performance from Dobbins. On first watch, I didn't see him miss a hole all day and he definitely ran like a pissed off player.
LOOKS LIKE THE BULLETS MIGHT INDEED BE BACK
Last year's defensive collapse has been well-chronicled as has the talk all summer that basically the same group of players, with a host of new assistant coaches, would turn the ship around.
While I expected improvement, I absolutely admit I didn't expect what we saw yesterday which was a complete demolition of Cincinnati's offense.
When the game was sort of a game – aka the first half – the Bullets flat out suffocated the Bearcats holding them to 18 rushing yards on 1.3 per carry and 0-fer-7 on third down conversion tries.
Five of Cincinnati's six drives failed to gain at least 20 yards with two 3-and-outs and two 4-and-outs.
While all three levels of Ohio State's defense played outstanding football, the defensive line was absolutely spectacular. Young had three stops including 1.5 sacks on the day, Tyreke Smith added a sack and Davon Hamilton did all kinds of dirty work in the middle. I still say Smith can be the most impactful complement to Young on the opposite edge even when Jonathon Cooper returns to health.
At the second level, Malik Harrison (5 tkls, 2.5 TFL) and Baron Browning (5 tkls) again looked like the two clear-cut best linebackers on the team and in the secondary, I'll get to Shaun Wade in just a bit.
If the defense can approach today's level of dominance as the competition stiffens, Ohio State will be a national title contender.
FIELDS IS RIDICULOUS
I tried to stay level-headed after quarterback Justin Fields lit up Florida Atlantic for 295 total yards and five touchdowns in a very controlled debut but after what he just did to Cincinnati, it's hard not to froth at the mouth a little.
Fields shredded the Bearcats defense going 20-of-25 through the air for 224 yards and a pair of scored and added another 42 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in a stellar performance.
He legitimately only threw one bad pass the entire day which came on his 19th attempt of the afternoon.
Other than that, dude looked like a seasoned vet with a host of highlight plays. I can't list them all or Five Things would approach 3,000 words. That said, a few of his most notable efforts included:
- A gorgeous play to open the scoring as he dropped back from the UC 7-yard line, went through two progressions – first to the right and then across the field to the left – before tucking and running straight ahead for a touchdown. His decision making on that play can't be understated.
- An excellent read on a 3rd-and-1, carrying the ball for eight yards to move the chains followed by a first down throw to Austin Mack on a swing pass that was perfectly placed just as Fields took a pop.
- On Ohio State's last full possession of the first half, Fields bought time in the pocket before hitting Chris Olave with a perfect throw for 39 yards to the Bearcat 11. Three plays later, he navigated the pocket and stood tall in the face of a blitz before hitting Garrett Wilson with a top-shelf throw in the back of the end zone for a 28-0 lead. Hell of catch by Wilson taboot.
- During Ohio State's first possession he rolled right, dropped his arm angle and hit K.J. Hill on what was just a 6-yard completion but was just another glimpse of his accuracy, maturity and ability to keep his eyes downfield while on the run.
He also had a few intelligent throwaways and slides on the run. This guy is already damn good and is going to be really special.
WADE TO GO
A lot of folks don't realize Shaun Wade led Ohio State in interceptions last season (and tied for second in PBUs) despite playing just the fifth-most snaps within the secondary.
The redshirt sophomore was all over the field yesterday with a sack, two PBUs and a forced fumble.
On 1st-and-10 of Cincinnati's fourth possession of the afternoon, Wade dashed around the right edge on a corner blitz and sacked Desmond Ridder, forcing a fumble in the process on what became a 7-yard loss. The Bearcats would have to punt two plays later.
On Ohio State's next defensive series, Wade deflected a 3rd-and-4 pass intended for Michael Warren with the ball nearly intercepted by Chase Young. Instead of a turnover it was still a 3-and-out leading to another touchdown by Fields and company.
Moving to the second half, Wade was back at it on Cincinnati's third series as he deflected another throw, this time with the carom falling into the waiting arms of Tuf Borland for an interception deep in OSU territory to preserve the shutout.
A truly outstanding effort from Wade all day long.
SPECIAL TEAMS RISE UP
It takes all three phases and Ohio State's special teams joined the party today led by punter Drue Chrisman and the field goal block team.
Chrisman made his presence known early. Ohio State's offense was rolling on the opening possession of the game until a Jonah Jackson holding got the Buckeyes off schedule. From the Bearcat 39, Chrisman bounced a rainbow at about the five and Olave calmly downed it at the one yard line.
With Ohio State leading 7-0 early in the second quarter, the Bearcats marched all the way to the OSU 14 before the drive stalled forcing a 32-yard field goal try. Chase Young tore through the line and blocked Sam Crosa's effort and the Buckeye offense would score six plays later to take a 14-0 lead.
On Ohio State's first offensive series of the second half, the Buckeyes stalled at their own 46 and Chrisman booted a rainmaker to the Cincinnati eight yard line that Ryan Montgomery could only fair catch.