A grade card on Ohio State’s 52-17 win over Nebraska, which it hopes was the first step toward a Big Ten championship and an invitation to the College Football Playoff:
Justin Fields makes it tough to decide which of his games at Ohio State is his best, but this one is certainly a contender. The junior quarterback completed 20 of 21 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 54 yards and another TD.
His only miss came on a throw on which Chris Olave had the ball in his hands in the end zone before being flipped in midair by a Nebraska defender. The one question about Fields was a coaching question. Why was he still in the game with a 28-point lead late in the fourth quarter?
Master Teague (12 carries, 41 yards, two TDs) and Trey Sermon (11 carries, 55 yards) did a nearly equal time share at running back and were productive but not spectacular. Sermon’s 18-yard carry in the second half was longest running play of the day for OSU.
The offensive line allowed three sacks. But OSU’s first seven possessions produced five touchdowns and a field goal, so there’s not much to complain about there.
Ohio State looked very much like a team that had to replace eight defensive starters, three of them first-round NFL draft choices, when Nebraska needed only four plays after the opening kickoff to score a touchdown. But the defense settled down after that.
After the game, OSU coach Ryan Day chalked the slow start up to planning, not personnel, and said defensive coaches Kerry Coombs and Greg Mattison did a good job of making adjustments when Nebraska did some things on offense the Buckeyes hadn’t seen from them before.
Linebacker Pete Werner led OSU in tackles with seven, including a tackle for a loss. Ohio State sacked the Cornhuskers’ quarterbacks three times.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-
Demario McCall has struggled to find a role during his career at Ohio State and didn’t help himself any by mishandling a kickoff on Saturday. One of Blake Haubeil’s extra point kicks was deflected by a Nebraska defender but still was good.
It was a good start with room to improve.