After taking off last week with a trip down to Columbus, The Ohio State Buckeyes are back on the field hosting the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Buckeyes went into their bye week with a 2-1 record and were hoping to build off the momentum from their last game.
The Bearcats threw the first punch though as sophomore quarterback Gunner Kiel found redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Moore for a 60 yard touchdown pass. Coming into this game, the secondary play was going to be an issue and we saw that early.
Ohio State did respond though, scoring on their next four drives on the ground and through the air. The defense even stepped up after that initial drive forcing Cincinnati to punt on three of their next four drives. The only one that they didn’t was a fumble forced by sophomore defensive end Joey Bosa.
The Buckeyes looked they were going to roll easily to a victory until freshman running back Curtis Samuel fumbled the ball on a ball where we have stopped at the line of the scrimmage and tried to make something happen. The Bearcats answered this miscue with another touchdown pass from Keil. This one was to junior wide receiver Johnny Holton on a jailbreak screen for 19 yards.
Ohio State moved the ball on their next drive, but with three straight dropped pass at midfield, they punted it back to the Bearcats. The ball was downed on the 3. This didn’t matter to Kiel. After being pushed to a third down and three, he moved the chains with a pass. The very next play he went for it all and got it to Moore again, this time for 83 yards. The Buckeyes saw their 30-7 lead cut down to nine.
The Buckeye offense received the ball to start the half. They took it too the ground, but sputtered after getting inside of the ten yard line. They had to settle for a field goal. The Bearcats answered back on their second play with yet another touchdown pass to Moore, this one for Moore. Trying to answer back, Ohio State continued to pound the ball with sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott. After a penalty, the Buckeyes had to settle for another field goal.
Down 8, Cincinnati tried to make something happen, but after a questionable offensive pass interference penalty, they had to punt it away.
Ohio State put their seal on the game after that. Redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett added two more passing touchdowns to his total as they sealed the game 50-28.
I have to say that the Buckeye offense looks impressive. Barrett finished the night going 25 for 35 for 324 yards with 4 touchdown passes. He also added 79 yards on fourteen carries. Elliott also has established himself as the featured back in the offense. He rushed the ball 29 times for 188 yards with a touchdown. He also caught four passes for 45 yards as well. The offense showed balanced while still pounding the ball on the ground. Now Cincinnati does not have the best defense, but gaining 710 yards of offense is impressive regardless.
Ohio State’s receivers still have too many drops. I know of at least four that were killers for drives. Barrett also had a few overthrows and at least one that should have been intercepted, but he is settling in more and more it seems every game.
The pass defense still needs to improve. The Buckeyes’ defense gave up 422 yards of offense, 352 of that through the air. A lot of that came on their big plays, 221 of it came on three plays. If those can be prevented, this game has a whole different dynamic as the Bearcats only had one drive that gave them 7 points. The run defense does look good though, giving up only 70 yards. If the offense keeps playing like it does, then the defense should get much needed rest and will find themselves in a lot of passing situations.
Special teams looked good today; there were no big returns on punts or kicks. Freshman kicker Sean Nurenberger also went 2-for-2 with a 42 and 25 yard field goals.
Ohio State will hit the road next week when they open up conference play against 4-1 (1-0) Maryland Terrapins.