Ohio State starting quarterback J. T. Barrett played just under a quarter and a half against UNLV before being pulled in favor of redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins. That usually happens when a quarterback or offense is struggling. In this case, it was anything but struggles that caused Barrett’s early departure.
Barrett and the Buckeye offense put up five touchdowns, all of them via the pass, before Barrett left the game with 8:58 remaining in the half. OSU was holding a 37-0 lead on the basis of those five TDs and a safety produced by the Buckeye defense.
Barrett’s scoring plays came on a 69-yard swing pass to Parris Campbell, a 16-yard toss to Johnnie Dixon, a 3-yard strike to Binjimen Victor, a 4-yard throw to Terry McLaurin, and an 11-yard score to K. J. Hill. For the day Barrett was 12 of 17 for 209 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 270.9. He also rushed for five yards on five carries.
The outcome of the game was never in doubt, but there was still plenty of intrigue.
Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins have been locked in a battle for the backup quarterback position — a position Haskins held recently due to an injury Burrow suffered in practice that required surgery to his hand. Burrow was reported as 90 percent recovered prior to the game. When Barrett exited, however, it was Haskins who entered as his replacement.
For the most part, Haskins delivered, showing off a strong, accurate arm. He also looked comfortable on the field and in control of the offense. If anything, he may have been just a bit too confident. He was successful at squeezing balls into tight windows for completions. In doing so he led the Buckeyes to two more touchdowns on passes of 28 yards to C.J. Saunders and 38 yards to Rashod Berry. Haskins also led a third scoring drive that culminated in a 30-yard field goal by Sean Neurnberger.
Haskins lone big mistake of the day came when he stared down a receiver then counted on his arm to beat a defender near his intended receiver. It didn’t work out and ended up as a 65-yard pick-six for the Rebels.
The Buckeye offense was pass-oriented throughout. OSU amassed 664 yards of total offense, a school-record 474 of them through the air. OSU quarterbacks combined to go 31-44 passing. A total of seven Buckeye receivers caught touchdown passes — a Big Ten and OSU record. The Buckeyes added 190 yards rushing on 40 attempts. Freshman tailback J.K. Dobbins led all rushers with 95 yards on just 14 carries.
The lopsided score allowed the OSU coaching staff to get a number of young players in the game on both offense and defense. For the most part, the Buckeyes played with down the line players on both sides of the ball in the second half. Walk-on wide receiver C. J. Sanders was particularly impressive with a game-high six catches for 102 yards and one touchdown.
The win concludes the non-league portion of OSU’s schedule. The Buckeyes are now 3-1 overall and 1-0 in league play.