Ohio State roared past UNLV from the start in a 54-21 victory that wasn’t nearly as close as the score might indicate.
Here’s how it unfolded throughout the game.
Ohio State-UNLV live updates, score
Ohio State 54, UNLV 21 (Final): Overall it was a solid win for the Buckeyes but they do have some things to work on.
Ohio State 54, UNLV 21 (Q4, 3:30): The Buckeyes have fumbled twice at the 1-yard line. Given that the Buckeyes are up by 33 points, the last one probably won’t sit well with… investors who had OSU as a 40-point favorite.
Ohio State 54, UNLV 21 (Q4, 12:30): Haskins has been a little aggressive at times, especially on an interception UNLV returned for a touchdown, but it’s hard to fault him for coming in and trying to make plays in a blowout.
Ohio State 54, UNLV 14 (Q4, 13:44): Haskins looks good directing the Ohio State offense, especially considering he’s been out there with the backups all game.
Ohio State 44, UNLV 7 (Q3, 9:11): It will be interesting to see how much true work the Buckeyes give Haskins in the second half. It could end up being a situation where he spends the last two quarters handing off to backup running backs.
Ohio State 44, UNLV 7 (Halftime): That half was everything the Buckeyes could have wanted, pretty much. Six touchdown passes, playing time for a backup, a stout defense and no injuries.
Ohio State 44, UNLV 7 (Q2, 1:32): Prepare for a fun halftime! Urban Meyer gives J.T. Barrett a rest, and backup Dwayne Haskins leads a touchdown drive that ends with a rope to walk-on wide receiver C.J. Saunders. It was certainly impressive to watch, and it’s worth noting that he was the quarterback called into action when Barrett exited.
Ohio State 37, UNLV 7 (Q2, 3:32): Penalties have been a big problem for the Buckeyes this year, especially in regards to pass defense. Whether or not they agree with the call, the way they’re defending receivers is getting called every time. It’s either make a change or keep drawing flags.
Ohio State 37, UNLV 0 (Q2, 8:58): Life is all about silver linings.
Its about time to remind you that UNLV was paid $1.3 million to play this game.
— James Grega Jr. (@JGrega11) September 23, 2017
Ohio State 30, UNLV 0 (Q2, 12:40): Everything I said one post below is still true, as J.T. Barrett hits Terry McLaurin for a fourth-down touchdown. Four receivers have caught touchdown passes and the second quarter has barely started.
Ohio State 23, UNLV 0 (Q2, 14:50): Recently Ohio State has been conservative in the red zone even in blowouts, which I don’t understand. The Buckeyes are working through a lot of issues there, and taking one more play is a lot more valuable than kicking a really short field goal when the outcome isn’t in doubt. And look at that — J.T. Barrett found Binjimen Victor for a fourth-down touchdown. The Buckeyes are much better off with the knowledge that he’s a big threat in the red zone than by re-affirming the kicker can hit from an extra point distance.
Ohio State 14, UNLV 0 (Q1, 1:38): I mean this in the most loving way possible: UNLV should not punt. The defense is going to allow a score no matter how far the offense has to go. You might as well try to stay on offense.
Ohio State 14, UNLV 0 (Q1, 5:15): This is going to be a name your score game for the Buckeyes. UNLV’s defense can’t stop J.K. Dobbins on the ground or the Buckeyes’ playmakers through the air. J.T. Barrett did overthrow K.J. Hill once, but he responded well afterwards.
Ohio State 7, UNLV 0 (Q1, 8:55): It’s not been Kendall Sheffield’s day so far, which will surely be a disappointment to a team looking to shore up its pass defense. Something to monitor going forward is how patient the Buckeyes are if his struggles continue.
Ohio State 7, UNLV 0 (Q1, 11:49): Maybe he should head back to Vegas with the Rebels because the next play was a 69-yard touchdown pass to Parris Campbell. The Buckeyes are going to be able to use their athleticism advantage all day long, it seems.
Ohio State 0, UNLV 0 (Q1, 12:08): My colleague Austin Ward just looked over at after Ohio State’s first offensive snap and said, “I think UNLV is in trouble today.”
11:01 a.m: On the bright side, it appears Johnnie Dixon could be good to go against UNLV.
Johnnie Dixon appears to be moving just fine — based on his warmup routes and dance moves. pic.twitter.com/XJUIAInmit
— Austin Ward (@AWardSports) September 23, 2017
10:52 a.m.: Defensive back Shaun Wade isn’t dressed, and defensive tackle Robert Landers is in a walking boot.
10:20 a.m.: Urban Meyer had a special visitor with him for the Buckeye Walk as the team entered Ohio Stadium.
— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) September 23, 2017
Ohio State-UNLV game time, details
Time: Noon ET
Date: Saturday, Sept. 23
Location: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Weather: Sunny with a high of 89 degrees. No chance of rain.
The line: Ohio State is a 40-point favorite.
Over/under: 64.5 points
Ohio State-UNLV preview
Make no mistake about it — the gulf in talent between these two teams is as wide as it seems. While the Buckeyes occasionally struggled this season, those shortcomings have been nothing compared to what UNLV has endured. In their season opener, the Rebels suffered the biggest upset in college football history in terms of point-spread, a fitting accomplishment given their location.
Here are three things to watch for as the game unfolds.
1. How it starts
Given the talent disparity between these two programs, this game has the potential to be over in a hurry. Ohio State is favored by 40 points, which is probably the largest such margin it will see all year. Although the Buckeyes won comfortably against Indiana and Army, they didn’t pull away in the first half. Both of those teams had chances in the second half to make or keep it close well into the third quarter. A slow start by Ohio State that doesn’t get any better is pretty much UNLV’s only chance of hanging around in this one. The Rebels are unlikely to mount any sort of comeback, so the Buckeyes can put it away early if they come out firing from the start instead of working through some issues in the first half.
2. Turnover battle
Perhaps the surest way to keep a less talented team in a game is to give up points and field position via turnovers. If all things are equal in terms of possessions, the Buckeyes will find themselves a very comfortable winner on Saturday. But if Ohio State is either throwing away possessions or outright handing points to UNLV via turnovers, bad things come into play. On the other hand, the Buckeyes could make it a short afternoon for its starters if they’re dominating the turnover battle and completely outclassing the Rebels.
It will be interesting to see what the Buckeyes’ approach is if they do put away the Rebels relatively early. Against clock-killing Army, they didn’t have enough possessions to work on the deep ball. Nor did backup Dwayne Haskins get more than one drive to show what he could do, because by the time J.T. Barrett was done for the day the game was almost over. The Buckeyes will probably have more margin for error to work through some things against an overmatched opponent, so it will be interesting to see if they try more deep shots or get a backup quarterback out there earlier.