Chase Complete: Ohio State Obliterates Kent State, But Not Before Losing Noah Spence

By Patrick Maks on January 28, 2015 at 8:35 am
Ezekiel Elliott leaps over a Kent State defender.
Jason Mowry / Icon Sportswire
Chase Complete: Recapping Ohio State's Improbable Title Run

After days to wallow in the fallout from an unexpected and unsettling loss to Virginia Tech, Ohio State crushed Kent State in the worst kind of way. The 66-0 demolition of the Golden Flashes was just what the doctored ordered for the seething Buckeyes.

"With the loss last week and being at home, we should be mad, we should be angry," quarterback J.T. Barrett said after the game, "and it just so happened Kent State was on the schedule.”

  1 2 3 4 F
KENT STATE 0 0 0 0 0
#18 OHIO STATE 21 24 14 17 66

In what a mismatch from the start, Ohio State amassed 628 yards of offense and limited its overmatched adversary to 126 yards.

“I thought our guys played well. Obviously a little talent advantage, but we had to have a game like this," head coach Urban Meyer said. "Normally that's a first game, especially when you have a young quarterback and a young offensive line, but I'm glad we played like we did.”

Player of the Game: J.T. Barrett

After throwing three interceptions and getting sacked seven times against the Hokies the week earlier, Barrett eviscerated Kent State's defense for 312 yards and six touchdowns (which tied former backup quarterback Kenny Guiton's single-game school record) on 23-of-30 passes. Moreover, the redshirt freshman took a leap forward in his development as a quarterback (albeit against horrible competition) after a reality check against Virginia Tech.

It feels like it was forever ago, but there was once a time where Barrett was very much still trying to prove himself as the team's starting quarterback after losing Braxton Miller to a season-ending shoulder injury.

The win against Kent State was as big for Barrett's confidence as it was for Ohio State's ego. 

“On purpose — and early in the first half — I wanted to throw a lot. I wanted to force him to make plays, and receivers — it's not just him, it's the whole combination of quarterback/receivers," Meyer said of Barrett.

"I thought he played good. I thought there was a couple misses, too, now that we could have had.  But a young quarterback needs to do that, and we actually did some empty. I think he'll be a good empty quarterback, five-receiver set. So we're still, once again, figuring out exactly how we're going to be moving the ball as an offense once we start getting to the Big Ten season.”

Critical Play of the Game: Losing Noah Spence

This obviously didn't have anything to do with the game, but star defensive end Noah Spence's second suspension in less than a year overshadowed anything that happened on the field against the Golden Flashes.

Spence, who was suspended for three games for failing a drug test at the end of the 2013 season, was supposed to make a much-anticipated return against Kent State. Instead, he was suspended indefinitely for failing another drug test and his future with the team remained in jeopardy. 

And in the wake of Miller's injury and Ohio State's loss to the Hokies, it was insult to injury for the Buckeyes, which were supposed to have a sliver of good news for the first time in a month. 

What It Meant

On the most basic level, crushing Kent State gave Ohio State some of its confidence back. “We really needed that. After last week we just felt heartbroken with that sick feeling in our stomach," sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott said. "We needed to come out like we did today for ourselves and for (the fans)." 

But it did little to answer lingering questions that remained from the weekend before. Ohio State was supposed to obliterate Kent State, one of the worst teams in the country, it did just that. Whether or not it had addressed the defects that doomed it earlier in the loss to the Hokies was another matter. Only so much could be gleaned from what was more or less a glorified scrimmage. 

Meyer remained optimistic. 

“You still have a sick feeling in your stomach about last week, but we're moving forward, and I see a lot of young guys that are going to have great futures at Ohio State," he said.

But Meyer needed them to go through a growth spurt. 

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