In a prime-time showdown at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday, Nebraska showed it was not ready for the Ohio State juggernaut.
The No. 5 Buckeyes, aided by three first-half interceptions that led to 17 points, rolled to a 38-0 halftime lead and pounded the Cornhuskers 48-7.
Junior cornerback Jeff Okudah had two of the picks, his second and third in the past two games, and the combination of sophomore quarterback Justin Fields and junior running back J.K. Dobbins overwhelmed Nebraska (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten).
Fields was 15 for 21 for 212 yards and three touchdown passes and ran for 72 yards on 12 runs for a TD for the Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0).
Dobbins had 114 of his 177 yards in the first half. Redshirt freshman Master Teague had 12 carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
The Buckeyes scored on their first six drives before failing to do so to end the second quarter.
How It Happened
Ohio State forced a turnover on the first series of the game and went 50 yards in five plays in 2:02 for a 7-0 lead at the 10:35 mark.
Okudah, who had his first career interception in the previous game against Miami (Ohio), had a third-down pick of Martinez.
Fields immediately passed 10 yards to graduate H-back K.J. Hill. Dobbins had three straight carries for 10 more to the 30. On the next down, Cam Taylor-Britt was flagged for pass interference on Hill deep in the end zone.
Fields scored on the ensuing play from the 15, dropping into the pocket then scrambling up the middle for his seventh rushing touchdown.
The Buckeyes forced a punt when Nebraska got the ball again and marched 60 yards in 10 plays in a span of 4:41 for a 14-0 lead at 4:37 when Fields found Hill on the right side from the 2.
Dobbins got the drive started with a 15-yard run and later added a 13-yard gallop. Fields had a 6-yard third-down conversion to sophomore receiver Chris Olave and later the QB had a 14-yard gain around the right end to the 6 on third-and-10 from the 20. Dobbins gained 4 on the ground before Fields’ toss to Hill.
The Cornhuskers responded with a promising drive that reached the OSU 28 before Okudah came through with a stunning interception at the 4. A pass intended for Wan’Dale Robinson was tipped by the receiver and Okudah was on his back when the ball fell to him.
Ohio State went on the attack again. Dobbins got the Buckeyes moving with a 17-yard run. Senior receiver Austin Mack was open for a 38-yard reception to the Nebraska, but it would have been a score if he had been able to keep his feet. Two plays later Dobbins, ran for 6 yards to become the 11th Buckeye to surpass 3,000 career rushing yards.
The Buckeyes ended up getting a 23-yard field goal from junior Blake Haubeil at 9:32 of the second quarter to make it 17-0 but it felt like they should have had more after getting first-and-goal from the 4 following a third-down completion of 20 yards to Hill. Dobbins pushed ahead for 1 and Fields was sacked for an 8-yard loss. On third down, Fields was able run for 5 but it wasn’t enough although the 90-yard drive consumed 13 plays and 7:04 off the clock.
Martinez then continued his miserable half when senior safety Jordan Fuller picked off an errant pass at the 50.
Fields’ kept the ball on the run/pass option and ripped off 41 yards to the 9. Teague spelled Dobbins and had a 1-yard run followed by an 8-yard rushing TD at 8:26 to extend the lead to 24-0. It took just 57 seconds and three plays to score.
On Nebraska’s next series a 4-yard sack by senior linebacker Malik Harrison put the Huskers in a three-and-out situation. After a punt, the Buckeyes started their fifth drive from their 45.
It was the Master Teague show for a 31-0 advantage. He took a pass from Fields and went 28 yards to the 27. Teague then ran for 26 and capped the three-play 55-yard, 59-second series with a 1-yard run into the end zone at 5:42.
The Buckeyes continued their dominance with another gashing drive of 7 plays, 72 yards in 2:28 to make it 38-0 with 1:34 left in the second quarter. Dobbins returned and added runs of 5, 13 and 24 to his totals. Hill had a 5-yard grab, Fields ran for 7 to the 18 before targeting Hill in the left corner for his first TD catch of the season.
After another Nebraska punt to the OSU 45, the Buckeyes failed to score as the half expired despite a 16-yard pass to junior tight end Luke Farrell to the Huskers’ 36.
Finish It Off
Ohio State had to settle for a 36-yard field goal by Haubeil on the first series of the second half to up the count to 41-0 at 10:35. Beginning at the OSU 24, Olave had catches for 13 and 11 yards and senior Binjimen Victor was on the end of a 27-yard throw from Fields to the 12. Fields lost 2 on run, Dobbins got 3 of it back but Fields was the victim of an 8-yard sack. The drive was nine plays, 57 yards in 4:21.
The lead became 48-0 at 3:51 of the third as Fields made a pinpoint pass 6-yard pass that true freshman Garrett Wilson hauled in just before going out of the back of the end zone. OSU went 67 yards in eight plays and 3:56 used.
Dobbins opened the series with a 26-yard scamper. He later added 14 more over right tackle to the 20. Fields ran for 7, Dobbins had two carries for seven more before the TD.
Nebraska finally scored and ended a run of 124 unanswered points by the Buckeyes in the past two games. The big play was a 56-yard run by Martinez to the 12. Dedrick Mills rushed for 3 and 9 yards to make it 48-7 at 2:07 of the third to finish the 75-yard, five-play 1:44 drive.
The Cornhuskers first unit offense tried to shove another one across the goal line on OSU’s second- and third-teamers on defense but on fourth down from the 3, Martinez rolled right to pass and as he backpedaled fell down at the 15 with junior linebacker Jahsen Wint getting credit for the sack with 6:05 left in the game.
By the Numbers
Martinez had more completions to OSU (three) than to his teammates in the first half when he was 2 for 8 for 10 yards. … Mack led the Buckeyes with 66 receiving yards and a score while Hill had a team-high five catches for 39 yards and a TD. … OSU had 580 total yards (212 passing, 368 rushing). Nebraska had 231 yards (47, 184). … The Buckeyes led in first downs 31-15 and converted 10 of 13 third downs.