COLUMBUS, Ohio — The outcome was never in doubt as No. 10 Ohio State cruised past UNLV 54-21 on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Here are five things we learned from the Buckeyes’ decisive win over the Rebels:
Dwayne Haskins can sling it
J.T. Barrett almost never sits before halftime in blowouts, but it happened against UNLV. Why? So the coaching staff could see what Dwayne Haskins had to offer before it got too out of hand for him to throw it.
The redshirt freshman from Maryland didn’t disappoint upon entering. His first touchdown pass was a strike to walk-on C.J. Saunders at the end of the second quarter, and Haskins also showed good touch at times.
His pick-6 in the fourth quarter showed he needs to cut down on forcing things, but his arm was as advertised.
Being aggressive works
Ohio State has settled for close field goals too often in the red zone of late, especially in games the Buckeyes were going to win. With red-zone struggles, why not go for it on fourth down and try different things to find out what works?
Coach Urban Meyer tried that approach twice in the first half and it led to a pair of touchdowns — one to Binjimen Victor and one to Terry McLaurin. In addition to adding points, it showed the Buckeyes that their receivers can make plays in the end zone.
Penalties have to improve
Ohio State’s defensive backs can disagree with the pass-interference calls directed at them, but it’s not going to stop them from coming. The way they defend passes has been consistently drawing flags. At this point, the only options are to change what they’re doing or to keep eating 15-yard penalties seemingly once a drive.
Urban Meyer has faith in Blake Haubeil
Sean Nuernberger has been at Ohio State for four seasons, but he’s never tried kickoffs. In past years, that job has gone to a walk-on. It’s pretty clear that it’s not his strong suit.
But after some dissatisfaction with the kickoffs last week, coach Urban Meyer hinted at a potential change that would put Nuernberger on kickoff duty. When the game began, though, it was freshman Blake Haubeil still taking kickoffs. He did well overall, often forcing UNLV to start inside its 15-yard line, but he did put one out of bounds.
This is a really talented team
Yes, it was UNLV. But the Buckeyes showcased a ton of playmakers up and down the roster. Six different receivers caught touchdowns. Tight end Rashod Berry found the end zone. Dwayne Haskins looked good. J.K. Dobbins was stellar, as always. About a dozen different defenders, many young, had a highlight-worthy play. Ohio State has some holes in the lineup and still has to figure out the rotation at a few spots, but the Buckeyes don’t have a shortage of playmakers. That’s going to help win the games that matter, too.