NORMAN, Okla. — Everything changed for Ohio State Saturday night.
Earlier this month, the Buckeyes received their fair share of attention for a 77-10 win against Bowling Green and a 48-3 victory over Tulsa, but neither of those triumphs compare to their 45-24 win at Oklahoma on Saturday. The spotlight is about to get bigger and brighter, and with that will come increased amounts of praise and criticism.
Ohio State’s performance was good enough to vault the Buckeyes into the conversation for a No. 1 ranking in the polls, but it wasn’t without flaws.
What follows is a look at how Ohio State fared in a number of categories, with its report card grades ranging from one star to five stars:
Offense (4 stars)
He had a couple of iffy throws, but what a stat line from J.T. Barrett: 10 for 14 passing for 152 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Noah Brown emerged as a huge red zone target with four touchdowns, and Curtis Samuel continued to show why he’s Ohio State’s biggest weapon on offense.
For all the concerns from Ohio State coach Urban Meyer about his team’s ability to run the ball against the Sooners, the Buckeyes did quite well in that category with 291 yards on 48 carries. Not only is Samuel the real deal, but also redshirt freshman Mike Weber has shown signs of potential greatness. He had a fine performance against the Sooners, carrying 18 times for 123 yards.
Defense (4 stars)
Giving up 17 points — one of Oklahoma’s scores was on special teams — wasn’t a shining moment for the Buckeyes, but they kept the Sooners at bay for most of the game. Would it have been more fun for Ohio State fans if the Silver Bullets had completely stepped on Oklahoma’s throat? Sure, but that’s also probably not very realistic against a top-15 team on the road.
The Buckeyes pulled down two more interceptions against OU and probably should have had a third, but Marshon Lattimore’s second was overturned. They once again showed off their knack for scoring when linebacker Jerome Baker returned a fourth-down interception 68 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. The defensive line looked really impressive, and the secondary did a good job of stepping up when Gareon Conley exited with what Ohio State described as an “upper body injury.”
It helped that Oklahoma inexplicably valued Samaje Perine over Joe Mixon when the latter was clearly playing better.
Special teams (4 stars)
Punter Cameron Johnston did everything in his power to make this a 5-star grade for the Buckeyes, but the special teams unit can’t get a perfect mark after allowing a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which was inexcusable coverage regardless of the fact that Mixon dropped the ball before reaching the end zone.
That’s obviously not Johnston’s fault, however, and the Aussie was sublime when Ohio State needed him to be. He punted five times and put all five inside the 20-yard line, averaging 50.6 yards per attempt. He boomed his first one 68 yards and downed his last one at the 1-yard line, never giving the Sooners a break.
Coaching (5 stars)
It was another masterpiece from Meyer, who has pushed all the right buttons thus far this season. Had it not been written about and discussed ad nauseam, you would have never known that more than a dozen of Ohio State’s starters were making their first road start and doing so at mighty Oklahoma, no less.
He looked relaxed all week leading up to the game, and he was clearly justified in feeling that way. A sign at the Ohio State football facility this week read “The most prepared team will win this game” and Meyer had his team incredibly well prepared.
Overall (4 stars)
There were a lot more ups than downs for the Buckeyes, but it still wasn’t good enough to merit a full five stars. Ohio State looked really, really good against the Sooners but should have put the game away earlier given some of the chances it had. Allowing a kickoff return touchdown also wasn’t a shining moment. With that being said, Ohio State wasn’t playing some MAC team. This was a thorough beating of Oklahoma on the road — a team ranked preseason No. 3 — and that’s a four-star performance regardless of any flaws.