There are not many things that are more enjoyable than the chance to be inside a college football stadium on Saturday afternoons in the fall. The pageantry of college football is unmatched in American sports and when you get a chance to see it up close and personal, it’s really an awe-inspiring event, especially when you’re on the sidelines and watching it in a way that is only a dream to most folks.
However…there is truly something to be said about watching football at home, on the couch, with a cold beer — or whatever your beverage of choice is on any given Saturday — and friends and family. It’s an equally important and exciting way to watch a game, and in fact the fans watching at home have a lot of access and views that those of us in the stadium don’t have. That’s why it’s important for any real college football fan who went to a game to get back home and immediately watch it again, from the couch. With a beer.
That’s what I’m doing now, taking a few hours to have a Scarlet and Gray replay and seeing the things that might’ve been missed at first blush in Saturday’s epic tilt between the Buckeyes and Sooners.
It’s 1:45 a.m. ET on Sunday night/Monday morning, and I just got home from Oklahoma City about an hour and a half ago, so I’m a little tired, but we’re going to buckle in and get through this together.
The game is delayed 90 minutes because of weather — and holy moly did the rain come down in Oklahoma — so there’s been a quadruple dose of analytical riffing but we’re finally getting to game time. Before kick though, the Fox folks give their predictions and take a stab at picking the winner.
Here’s their breakdown:
- Dave Wannstedt: Oklahoma. The former head coach picked the Sooners because they’re at home, and more experienced.
- Matt Leinart: Oklahoma. Leinart thinks Oklahoma will commit to the run and keep the Buckeyes off the field offensively.
- Robert Smith: Ohio State. Smith said he picked the Buckeyes because he trusts their defensive front and J.T. Barrett.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops says his team managed the delay well and that he was worried about maintaining intensity and that he’s “all in” for the game. It’s also pretty cool to see Ohio State coach Urban Meyer in the mix with his kick coverage team before they head on to the field. He loves his “piranhas.”
It’s finally time for kickoff.
First quarter – Oklahoma receives the kick
- The Buckeyes win the toss and elect to play defense first. I like the decision. I’d much rather put the pressure on the Sooners and make them deal with the ball in front of a fired up crowd early and let J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes offense get a chance when things have leveled off.
- Jerome Baker, starting for Dante Booker, and Chris Worley got very good penetration on play one and the Buckeyes aggressiveness on defense is what Oklahoma used against them on the swing pass to DeDe Westbrook on play No. 2.
- The Sooners have the Buckeyes on their heels early, though you can see early that Samaje Perine doesn’t scare Ohio State at all.
- An injury to Cody Ford came at exactly the right time for Ohio State. Not only did it give the Buckeyes a chance to catch their breath, but also to adjust to what Oklahoma was doing on offense.
- Gareon Conley made an absolutely incredible play on second down from the 10-yard-line.
- On third down, the Buckeyes bring in four defensive ends: Sam Hubbard, Jayln Holmes, Tyquan Lewis and Nick Bosa, who saw a lot of time on this first series. Hubbard and Holmes force Mayfield to scramble and he can’t find an open guy.
- To hold Oklahoma to a field goal here is a great start for the…oh he doinked it off the upright. That’s going to leave a mark.
- Curtis Samuel can get to the edge on anyone. If he gets just one step, he’s got you beat.
- Billy Price joked after the Bowling Green game that people were calling him J.B. Shugarts because of his false starts and he picked up a big one on the Buckeyes first drive.
- Oklahoma got no pressure on J.T. Barrett on his first drop-back but no Buckeyes receivers get open. That’s concerning after struggles to find room against Tulsa.
- Cam Johnston’s 67-yard punt may be a game-changer. He puts the Sooners at their own 10 after their defense forces a three-and-out.
- Sam Hubbard’s experience along the Buckeyes defensive line is completely overlooked. He’s making some impact on nearly every play.
- There’s Joe Mixon, wide open, but a big drop. Buckeyes will need to cover him because he’s got every tool in the bag.
- Gareon Conley is off to a great start. He’s a first-round pick in the NFL next April.
- Consider the field flipped. The Sooners punt from their end zone and the Buckeyes are at the 45. Danger zone for Oklahoma on this drive.
- J.T. Barrett will want that one back. Curtis Samuel had his guy beat like a drum down the sideline and would’ve been a touchdown. Now a big third-and-five.
- Need five yards? Run J.T. Barrett. That’s the way it’s been since 2014 and defenses still seem incapable of stopping it.
- Sidebar: It’s hard to understand how officials can miss a facemask penalty as blatant as the one just perpetrated upon J.T. Barrett.
- Fourth-and-1, from the 36. You know the Buckeyes are going to run it but you don’t expect Samuel to the edge and like I said earlier, if he gets a step, you’re in trouble. Great blocking on the touchdown run by Marcus Baugh and Mike Weber — who basically just got in the way — to keep the corner clean for Samuel.
- I know Meyer likes the shorter kickoffs, but I’m old-fashioned and really prefer just kicking it into or through the end zone.
- Baker Mayfield is excellent on the move and is really good at using Ohio State’s rush against them.
- Joe Mixon is a problem for Ohio State. He’s Curtis Samuel-esque with the ball in his hands and far more dangerous than Perine, who can’t find room at all against the Buckeyes.
- Urban Meyer’s decision to go for it on fourth down may have forced the Sooners to try to match it. Jalyn Holmes is completely unblocked though, and that’s a problem for Baker Mayfield. Tip. Pick. Six. Just like that it’s 14-o Buckeyes and boy oh boy, can Jerome Baker play.
- Welp. That’s why I like kicking it to the back of the end zone. Joe Mixon is a problem and that’s a 97-yard kick return for a touchdown surrendered by the piranhas.
- Sidebar: there’s no excuse for Mixon’s return to have not been reviewed. That’s an egregious miss by the officials in the replay booth. Also, Mixon hit a “Bosa Shrug” after he “scored” for some reason.
- Mike Weber doesn’t have the suddenness of Ezekiel Elliott, but he’s really got great feet and hips and sees holes very well.
- Ohio State’s run game is flat-out better than Oklahoma’s defense.
- J.T. Barrett’s ability to extend a play isn’t talked about enough. He’s a very “smart” runner when he has to get out of the pocket. He also can get physical when he needs to, he bounced off Steven Parker on a third-down draw to pick up a first down to keep the Buckeyes offense rolling.
- I love the decision by Ed Warinner, on third-and-1 from the four, to air it out. Noah Brown one-on-one is a matchup you want and the Buckeyes knew they had two plays to keep the drive alive. 21-7 Buckeyes and the air is out of the stadium in Oklahoma.
- Gareon Conley makes another great play but hurts himself on a tackle. Looks serious but it’s not, and he’ll be back for the Buckeyes next game against Rutgers.
- Marshon Lattimore isn’t going to get beat often, but the Buckeyes catch a break as AD Miller falls down and doesn’t score.
- Malik Hooker can do it all. What a huge play on a sack from the 3-yard line and then Dame Webb absolutely lit up Mark Andrews on the next play. Textbook hit by Webb and it looks like the Buckeyes may escape this threat without giving up a touchdown.
- Raekwon McMillan hasn’t made many “splash” plays yet this season but he is always in on tackles for Ohio State and it forces a field goal. Big stop by the Buckeyes as Oklahoma absolutely had to answer.
- One thing Ohio State does so well is change the pace of its offense without changing its effectiveness. They can get methodical and chew clock when they want to.
- Urban Meyer was furious with the delay of game penalty the Buckeyes took on second-and-four from their own 43. That led to Barrett getting sacked on the next play and just like that, a potentially game-ending drive was over. Little things matter and playing in this enviroment you can’t take penalties like that.
- Malik Hooker has made his name in recent weeks with interceptions but he’s a really solid run-stopper when he comes up from his safety spot as well.
- Marshon Lattimore looks like a wide receiver when the ball is in the air and he grabs his third interception in two weeks. What a monster he’s becoming.
- Noah Brown is back and the Buckeyes have a wide receiver they can be aggressive with and he happens to be J.T. Barrett’s most-trusted option. One player after the interception it’s 28-10. When you get the ball in plus territory after a turnover, you take a shot and it paid off thanks to a perfect throw by Barrett.
- The Sooners have to score on this drive and it’s off to a great start. When Mark Andrews gets the ball their is a matchup mismatch but fortunately for the Buckeyes there aren’t many tight ends in the Big Ten like him.
- Damon Arnette came in for Marshon Lattimore and A.D. Miller quickly beats him over the middle of the field and Oklahoma answers as they had to with a 35-yard score. The game isn’t over and it seems the crowd got a needed shot of energy on that play as well.
- Another delay of game, this time on the first play after a kickoff and Meyer is upset, and justifiably so. That’s inexcusable. Fortunately Curtis Samuel is wearing the silver helmet because he’s a deficit-eraser.
- Parris Campbell gets his first catch of the night and just like that, the Buckeyes are moving again and in Sooners territory.
- Two catches for James Clark as the rest of Zone Six starts to get a bit more involved in the offense. Ohio State does a great job of getting their full arsenal in the game once they’ve got their rhythm.
- Another fourth down attempt for Meyer and the Buckeyes and again it’s Curtis Samuel. No timeouts left, so you know Ohio State will take some shots at the end zone.
- Barrett misses Marcus Baugh on a would-be touchdown and gets thumped for good measure. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to keep getting him hit like this.
- Noah. Freaking. Brown.
You can’t ask for a better first half if you’re an Ohio State fan. 35-17 Buckeyes at the break and the ball to start the second half? This one could be over.
Third quarter — Buckeyes receive the kick
- To get the ball back after that last-second score is huge for the Buckeyes. This opening drive could be a backbreaker. The crowd is out of the game, the Sooners are shook. Ohio State can end it.
- Curtis Samuel is a “fast” back but he’s strong, too. Easily sheds a defensive lineman in the backfield. Just like that, Ohio State is to midfield in two plays.
- J.T. Barrett’s near fumble was the result of a stumble and then hitting the ball on Michael Jordan’s foot. Very alert play by Barrett to quickly recover it himself.
- As with the almost fumble, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. This drive was stalled until a big facemask penalty against Oklahoma wipes out a likely field goal try.
- Four straight catches for Noah Brown for touchdowns. What a remarkable performance by Ohio State so far. 42-17 Buckeyes. Wow.
- Again, the Sooners have to score or this one is over. It may be over already anyway.
- Samaje Perine finally gets a little running room and picks up 20 yards. Down 25 points Oklahoma will stick to the run because that’s their bread and butter.
- Denzel Ward has been in the lineup since Conley’s injury and has been very good.
- No score for Oklahoma and the crowd is almost silent outside of the probably 12-15,000 Ohio State fans in attendance.
- You can see – almost – the Buckeyes taking their foot off the gas pedal but J.T. Barrett’s control of the offense still gets the ball out to midfield. Unfortunately it’s wiped out by a Jamarco Jones hold. Halfway through the third quarter, Ohio State is in control and is comfortable punting it back to the Sooners.
- Robert Landers has a very, very bright future.
- Oklahoma is on the verge of quitting, but Baker Mayfield makes a nice play to keep them alive deep in its own end. Ohio State continues to rotate at every position and is very, very fresh.
- Joe Mixon may be the only player on the field for Oklahoma that could – would – be able to make an impact for this Ohio State team and that’s saying something. There’s a huge gap in talent between these two teams and I don’t think many people would assume that.
- Denzel Ward absolutely obliterated Mark Andrews and like Damon Webb earlier, it’s completely clean. Andrews may need a few extra days off after the beating he’s taken in this game.
- Andrews get his revenge and runs a really great route that leads to a goal-to-go touchdown for Oklahoma. 42-24 Buckeyes and the Sooners may have a little life.
- Again, it seems the Buckeyes are content to slow things down. They go three-and-out and give it right back to Oklahoma.
- It’s wild to see Da’Von Hamilton and Robert Landers, two afterthoughts in the 2015 recruiting class, being involved and making key plays already for the Buckeyes. That speaks volumes about Larry Johnson, Sr. and the work that pair of redshirt freshmen have put in.
- When Chris Worley got dinged up – just a stinger – and missed a player, Jerome Baker slid over and filled in that spot while Joe Burger came into the game and replaced Baker. Ohio State’s versatility is impressive.
- I was about 15 feet away from Marshon Lattimore’s diving interception attempt and though it was overturned, that play showcased exactly why the redshirt sophomore from Cleveland has had Buckeyes coaches drooling for the last two years because of his potential. He’s as natural and explosive an athlete as Ohio State has on their roster.
- Malik Hooker, on the next play, read the wide receiver screen from the jump and makes a tackle for loss. Again, very underrated in that part of his game.
- Ohio State’s secondary is legit, pure and simple. Also: deep. To replace Gareon Conley without much of a problem is pretty crazy.
- Sam Hubbard is relentless. The Buckeyes talk about the “4-to-6 seconds” stuff but when they’re able to rotate in their depth along the defensive line it’s much easier for guys to go 100mph every snap and that led to a drive-ending sack for Hubbard and Jerome Baker.
Though there are about seven minutes left in the contest at this point, the game felt kind of like it had a running clock as the seconds wound down quickly with both teams realizing the contest was decided after a 31-yard Tyler Durbin field goal put the Buckeyes up 45-24. That would be the final score in Norman as Ohio State routs the No. 14 Sooners on their home turf.
There are a number of very positive things happening right now for the Buckeyes, so let’s take a look at the keys to Saturday’s victory over Stoops and Oklahoma.
- Touchdowns, not field goals. The Buckeyes scored touchdowns on five of six offensive possessions from the end of the first quarter until halftime and did it with a renewed focus on getting the ball to the wide receivers.
- Speaking of wide receivers, Noah Brown appears to finally be back to full health following a broken leg that cost him the 2015 season and J.T. Barrett seems thrilled by that.
- Meyer called Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel a “one-two punch” following the game but it’s dangerous to leave J.T. Barrett out of that equation. When the Buckeyes offensive line is winning the line of scrimmage, their offense will rack up a lot of rushing yards from all three spots.
- We knew going into the season that the Buckeyes would be very deep along the defensive line but Saturday showed that also extends to their secondary. When Gareon Conley went down, Denzel Ward and Damon Arnette — as well as Marshon Lattimore — elevated their games and there was hardly a drop-off.
- The talent gap between Ohio State and Oklahoma is surprising and it is wide. There are not many teams in the country as talented as Oklahoma and the Sooners were not nearly as good as the Buckeyes from the top to the bottom of their roster.
- Meyer is now 19-0 in true road games as the Buckeyes coach and continues to show an uncanny ability to mentally prepare his team for tough circumstances.
- With a large fourth quarter lead, you have to wonder why the Ohio State coaches are willing to let J.T. Barrett continue to run the ball and get hit the way he does. Mike Weber is built for that kind of pounding and with Barrett’s injury history, it may make more sense to remove him from that equation.
- When Cody Ford went down for Oklahoma, it was hard not to think about what the Buckeyes would do if they were forced to replace a starter along the offensive line right now. There is still no discernible depth at that position and there will be a time when it’s needed. Who is going to step up and be the guy when called upon?
- Dontre Wilson was limited most of the week with a sore foot, Corey Smith had a giant cast on his right hand after a midweek practice injury and K.J. Hill didn’t play in the second half for the Buckeyes and was in street clothes nursing an apparent leg injury. With Torrance Gibson already out for this season and nagging knee injuries that have hampered Johnnie Dixon, are we looking at another injury-laden Big Ten run for Zone Six?
- Tulsa almost broke a kick return against the Buckeyes. Oklahoma did. Time to get to work fixing that developing issue.
THE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
- Noah Brown — five catches, four touchdowns and a couple of highlight-reel grabs for scores.
- Mike Weber — 18 carries for 123 yards against a vaunted Sooners run defense, Weber is getting the job done.
- Curtis Samuel — Samuel had 118 all-purpose yards and set the tone for the night with his 36-yard score in the first quarter.
- J.T. Barrett — Barrett was a workmanlike 14 of 20 passing for 152 yards and four scores but also contributed 74 yards on the ground including a number of key first-down runs to keep drives alive.
- Chris Worley — Worley led Ohio State in tackles with 10 and also recorded four solo stops.
- Jerome Baker — Baker’s pick-six was an early dagger to Sooners but he also had seven tackles and a sack on the night.
- Dame Webb — Webb is getting better every week and finished with eight tackles but six of them were of the solo variety. He also had one pass breakup.
- Marshon Lattimore — Lattimore collected his third interception of the season and nearly grabbed his fourth while being the shutdown corner that was needed after Gareon Conley left the game in the second quarter.