If Nebraska posed the first true road test for No. 5 Ohio State, then the Buckeyes handled the challenge as well as possible. The Buckeyes' dominance over the first month of the season continued during Saturday night's game in Lincoln with a whopping 48-7 win for Ryan Day's team.
Ohio State did everything right. Quarterback Justin Fields continued to be a scoring machine, with 289 yards and four touchdowns while running back J.K. Dobbins added 177 yards on the ground. And the defense? Just as good, if not better. Ohio State's secondary had three picks, two of them from defensive back Jeff Okudah. Even including garbage time, Ohio State limited Nebraska's offense to 231 yards at 4.26 yards per play and allowed conversions on only 4 of 12 third-down attempts. It was uneven from the start, and the gap between Ohio State and Nebraska -- which is still looking to build its program into a divisional contender -- remains large.
Obviously, this is not what Nebraska had in mind for its big home game. The Cornhuskers weren't sharp enough from the get-go to even contend with Ohio State. Quarterback Adrian Martinez threw a pick on the first drive of the game, and the Buckeyes scored five plays later to go up 7-0. That set the tone for the rest of the night. Martinez threw two more first-half interceptions and the Buckeyes scored 10 more points off of them. In all, Nebraska had just 86 yards in the first half and trailed 38-0.
Nebraska needed to play flawlessly to have a chance to pull the upset on Saturday night. That the game got off to such a rough start was a clear indicator that wasn't going to happen. Ohio State was so far ahead in every aspect -- offense and defense, in the trenches and at the skill positions. The Buckeyes have too much speed and were ready to play.
Now the question is how to evaluate the Buckeyes. They're undefeated and have outscored opponents 262-43. Granted, FAU, Cincinnati, Indiana, Miami (OH) and now Nebraska isn't the toughest schedule, but it's hard not to be impressed with how clean this team has been from the start. The road will get harder, of course. Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin are all winnable games, but certainly tricky if the Buckeyes sleepwalk. But the talent level and capability Ohio State possesses to have big plays on offense and a shut-down defense is matched by only a few teams -- if anyone. Schedule complaints aside, you could argue Ohio State is as complete of a team as there is right now in college football.
Obviously, the College Football Playoff is the ultimate goal. If Ohio State keeps playing this well, being one of the four teams selected won't be a problem.
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