A grade card on Ohio State’s 54-21 win over UNLV in a game probably more one-sided than the score showed.
The Buckeyes’ first two offensive plays told a lot about how this game was going to go.
On the first play, the offensive line opened a big hole and freshman running back J.K. Dobbins gained eight yards. On the next play, quarterback J.T. Barrett dropped a short pass into the hands of Parris Campbell and the speedy receiver outran UNLV’s defense 69 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.
Barrett threw five touchdown passes in the first 21 minutes, two seconds of the game and Dwayne Haskins threw for two more. Barrett, Haskins and Joe Burrow combined for a school record 474 yards passing.
Seven receivers caught touchdown passes and 13 players caught passes for OSU. Walk-on receiver C.J. Saunders had 6 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Tight end Rashod Berry (3 catches, 57 yards and a touchdown) was another seldom-used player who had a big day. He might have made a good enough impression to get more playing time the rest of the season.
Running back Mike Weber was held out of action because of a lingering hamstring problem. It would not be surprising to see him sit out against Rutgers this week.
Ohio State didn’t get the shutout Nick Bosa said he was hoping for, but only one of UNLV’s touchdowns came against the Buckeyes’ first-team defense.
OSU’s starting defensive line against UNLV’s offensive line was a classic men against boys match-up, with the Buckeyes’ front four playing the role of the adults. The defense had four sacks, including one in which Tyquan Lewis, Ben Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes and Jerome Baker all landed on top of quarterback Armani Rogers.
Bosa had a sack, three tackles for losses and a deflection that led to an interception by Damon Arnette. Damon Ward also had an interception but it was not a great day for OSU’s defensive backfield, which was flagged for numerous penalties.
Middle linebacker Chris Worley was held out because of a sprained foot and the linebackers might have missed him. Malik Harrison’s five tackles was the most by a Buckeye.
Special Teams: B-
On the good side, kicker Sean Nuernberger hit his seventh field goal without a miss, punter Drue Chrismas averaged 47.5 yards per kick and Campbell returned a kickoff 82 yards. On the not so good side, a roughing the kicker penalty on a punt played a role in one of UNLV’s touchdowns and yet another kickoff went out of bounds.
It might have been an easy test but Ohio State did get most of the answers right.
If there was a surprise it was that the Buckeyes did not attempt a few deep passes. Most of their big yardage pass plays were short or intermediate throws where the receivers gained some impressive yardage after the catch.
Fans who had been calling for more playing time for Haskins got their wish because of the blowout. He appears to be the frontrunner to start in 2018 but in 2017 the No. 1 quarterback’s job belongs to Barrett.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.