Ohio State has been playing football since 1890. The program has won eight national titles and been the home to seven Heisman Trophy winners.
But no quarterback in the history of the Buckeye program has had a starting debut quite as impressive as Dwayne Haskins.
Haskins threw for 313 yards and five touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ 77-31 win over Oregon State. Both of those were school records for a first-time starter.
The afternoon represented a dream come true for Haskins, who famously announced that he wanted to attend Ohio State during a visit to campus in 2008.
Saturday, he got his first chance to start at quarterback for the Buckeyes, and made the most of it.
“That was the dream when I was a little kid and just being able to go out there on the field and do it today is remarkable,” Haskins said after the game.
“I was thinking about that yesterday, how far I came just to be here and just to have the opportunity,” he said.
The journey to the starting job make have taken a while, but it didn’t take him long to make an impact on Saturday.
Haskins threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin on the Buckeyes’ first drive, and connected with Rashod Barry for a 6-yard score later in the first quarter.
He added a 3-yard scoring pass to Mike Weber before halftime, and then tacked on a 75-yard score to McLaurin and an 8-yard touchdown pass to Parris Campbell in the third quarter.
He finished the game just one touchdown pass shy of the school’s all-time single-game record.
The only blemish came on an interception near the goal line in the third quarter.
Acting Ohio State head coach Ryan Day gave Haskins a solid grade for his first outing as the top quarterback on the roster.
“I thought Dwayne started well, played well, had the one play there that obviously you’d like to have back. But overall a good start,” Day said.
Senior wide receiver Parris Campbell caught four passes against the Beavers, including that one score. He was impressed with the sophomore quarterback.
“He made it look easy, man. That’s what he does,” said Campbell.
Campbell said he got a sense that Haskins may have been a little antsy at the start of the game, but those nerves quickly vanished.
“The first drive of the game, honestly, he was riled up, juiced up. You could sense a little bit of nervousness on the sideline. But after he threw that first pass to Terry (McLaurin) for a touchdown, he was ready to go,” Campbell said.
That’s not necessarily surprising, though. Haskins isn’t yet a finished product, but he definitely does not have a shortage of confidence.
After the game, a reporter asked what he would have said if someone told him he would throw for more than 300 yards and five scores in his first start.
“I’d probably have told them that they’d be right,” Haskins said. More than just cockiness, however, the sophomore said that was a result of knowing everything that happened on that long road from 2008 to Saturday.
“Just knowing that I put the work in to be here and that one day it would pay off, and it did,” he said.
One thing Haskins didn’t do much against the Beavers was run the ball. After years of watching J.T. Barrett amass 15 or 20 carries on many Saturdays, Haskins had just two rushes against the Beavers, neither on designed runs.
“I don’t think I needed to run the ball,” Haskins said. “I’ve got running backs like Mike (Weber) and J.K. (Dobbins) who can handle it.”
Day said Haskins will be asked to run the ball more in the future, but it wasn’t needed on Saturday.
“Dwayne can run. And there’s going to be times when he’s going to need to run. But sometimes just kind of based on what we’re seeing in terms of what the defense has given us,” Day said.
“He’s still a threat with his legs. He’s obviously a gifted passer and he does that really, really well. But there’s different ways that we can spread the field where he might possibly be reading the linebacker on one play, or there’s times when he’s reading a defensive lineman, he’ll have to run.”