Five Things: Ohio State Flattens Nebraska

By Chris Lauderback on September 29, 2019 at 10:00 am
J.K. Dobbins hit Nebraska for 177 rushing yards on 7.4 per attempt.
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State scored on its first six possessions and the Buckeye defense smothered another opponent in a 48-7 blitz of the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln. 

With Ryan Day pulling the strings and Justin Fields pulling the trigger, Ohio State racked up 580 yards of offense including 378 in the first half as the Buckeyes built a 38-0 lead. 

The defense was again relentless shutting down Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez and his top weapons as the Cornhuskers generated a mere 76 yards in the opening half and didn't break 100 total yards until midway through the third quarter, against Ohio State's reserves. 

The win improved the Buckeyes to 5-0 on the season and staked their claim as maybe the most complete team in the country if not a no-doubt top four squad. 

Another primetime clash awaits next weekend as Ohio State welcomes Michigan State to the Shoe for a 7:30 p.m. kick but before we go green, here are Five Things from last night's flogging of Scott Frost's Cornhuskers. 


This defense is ridiculous. Nebraska isn't a great team but we've seen that offense do work against teams (in between shooting itself in the foot) behind Adrian Martinez and JD Spielman in particular. 

But against Ohio State last night, Martinez got his ass kicked up and the down the field and JD Spielman - a kid that burned the Buckeyes for 200 receiving yards a couple years back - had one catch for seven yards. Fellow playmaker Wan'Dale Robinson had 35 total yards on 10 touches. 

Martinez was befuddled and battered right from the jump as Ohio State built a 38-0 halftime lead with 17 of those points coming after the Nebraska's signal-caller's three interceptions. The Silver Bullets held Martinez to 47 passing yards for the game and his first half stat line read 2-of-8 passing for 10 yards with those three picks. 

In a swarming first half, Ohio State's defense held Nebraska to six first downs with three of those coming on one drive. The Buckeyes gave up a long play of 12 yards as Nebraska's seven first half possessions read: INT, 3-and-out, INT, INT, 3-and-out, 3-and-out and 3-and-out. LOL. 

Oh, and I won't devote a whole Thing to Jeff Okudah tonight but wow has this dude built of the momentum from the back half of last season and is on his way to being a Top-10 pick in next year's NFL Draft. Two more picks tonight and brought the wood to blow up a screen (and Maurice Washington's slats) on a 2nd-and-7 play just before his interception to end Nebraska's opening possession. 


Justin Fields is a damn cheat code. 

The sophomore quarterback completed 15-of-21 throws for 212 yards and three scores and added another 72 yards and a touchdown on the ground. 

Fields still hasn't thrown a pick this season in 116 attempts and continues to dazzle with his rocket arm, effectiveness in throwing on the run and an underrated touch. 

The full arsenal was on display tonight but it was his touch on two particular throws that stole the show for me. The first was an 18-yard strike to Austin Mack down the left side for six as he put the ball right over the defender's shoulder. Mack was very well defended and deserves some credit for fighting off the corner who had excellent coverage on the play - Fields was just better. 

The second came on a modest 6-yard connection with Garrett Wilson but man was that ball pretty. Fields basically aimed for the back left pylon and again, Wilson was very well defended but the pass was indefensible. 

Beyond those two beauties, he also showed his playmaking ability sliding in the pocket, eventually rolling right and throwing off his back foot back toward the middle of the field to K.J. Hill for 20 yards on a 3rd-and-8 snap. Just a ridiculously athletic play. 

Through five games, Fields is completing 70% of this throws for 16 touchdowns against zero interceptions with another seven scores on the ground. Jinkies. 


Linebackers Malik Harrison and Baron Browning continued their high-level of play leading the Buckeyes with seven tackles apiece. 

Harrison added a sack on a 3rd-and-8 play to force a punt and three snaps later, Ohio State's offense was end zone dancing with a 31-0 lead. 

Browning shared a sack with Jashon Cornell on a 3rd-and-7 play to force a punt and the Buckeye offense would score shortly thereafter to go up 14-0. Later, Browning blew up a 3rd-and-1 play with a TFL of Wan'Dale Robinson, forcing Nebraska to punt again and Ohio State's offense would capitalize once more to lead 38-0. 

Harrison was damn good last year so the fact he's tied for the team lead in tackles (25) and slots second in TFL (8.0) isn't much of a surprise. 

Browning however logged just the fourth-most linebacker snaps a season ago but so far this year you could make an argument he's Ohio State's second-best linebacker behind Harrison though I acknowledge Pete Werner has been pretty good in his own right though he has three less tackles than Browning despite logging 43 more snaps in the first four games (we don't have counts for Nebraska quite yet). 

Browning sits third on the team in tackles with 21 and 4.0 TFL even though he's been forced to basically split time in the middle with Tuf Borland who has just 10 tackles and zero TFL on the young season. 

For my money, Ohio State's defense is at its best when Harrison and Browning share the field. 


Rumors starting right tackle Branden Bowen wouldn't be able to go against Nebraska started pretty early in the week and when he wasn't present for a pre-scheduled media availability late in the week, the logical conclusion was that backup right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere would make the start especially after Friday's depth chart should Bowen and Petit-Frere as co-starters. 

Instead, Day and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa went with redshirt senior left tackle Josh Alabi in Bowen's place and the Detroit Cass Tech product did not disappoint. 

Alabi mauled Cornhusker defenders all night long which was even more meaningful as Day seemingly went away from Ohio State's tendency of dialing up the majority of runs to the left side, instead going to the right early and often. 

Of course the entire offensive line consistently pushed around the 'Huskers on running plays as the Buckeyes racked up 230 rushing yards on 7.9 per pop in the first half alone and finished with 368 yards on the ground on 6.9 per carry for the entire game. J.K. Dobbins enjoyed another night running through gigantic holes to the tune of 177 yards on 7.4 per attempt. 

Bowen's determination to come back from a terrible leg injury and become a starter is an awesome story and I'm not typically a guy who thinks a player could lose their starting gig due to injury but Alabi is a veteran too. I often wonder if Alabi isn't probably Ohio State's second-best tackle but Day had to make sure he had a capable left tackle at the ready as Thayer Munford dealt with a back injury all spring and into fall as the team was extremely cautious in bringing him along. 

I'd frankly be fine with Alabi getting the start at right tackle versus Michigan State next week even if Bowen is back to full strength. That's not meant as a slight to Bowen. I just think Alabi has stepped up every time he's been given a chance. 

The more curious piece here is what does all this say for Petit-Frere? He exited spring camp as the No. 1 right tackle and now with Bowen on the shelf it's left tackle Alabi that got the start. I have no doubt Petit-Frere has a bright future as a starter for the Buckeyes but this has to be seen as a missed opportunity, right? 


While the national media slept on Ohio State all offseason, putting Michigan in the driver's seat, Ryan Day just quietly went about his business. 

The dude brought in Justin Fields, got rid of the dead weight on the defensive coaching staff, replaced that dead weight with Jeff freaking Hafley, Greg Mattison, Al Washington and Matt Barnes, is a play-calling savant and develops quarterbacks in his sleep all while replacing a legend in Urban Meyer with absolute ease. 

I think some of us are so wowed with with Justin Fields is doing and how the defense has been reborn, we aren't stopping to think about the fact Ohio State might have a new legend in the making roaming the sidelines. 

The way he kept attacking late in the second quarter, the play designs to take advantage of Nebraska's scheme and personnel, the manner in which his team comes out for blood every week and having  both the self-awareness and self-confidence not to change of bunch of facets from Urban's program just because they weren't his own - the dude is just so impressive. 

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