On the old Star Trek TV series, it generally wasn’t hard to figure out which crew members from the U.S.S. Enterprise were about the meet a particularly gruesome fate.
Captain Kirk, Spock, and an anonymous security guy would head down to some strange planet. You knew there would be drama, you knew there would be danger, and you knew darn well that neither Kirk nor Spock was going to be the one who met a terrible fate.
Those security guys always wore red shirts. And that brings us to the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
When Scotty Frost beamed them down for their prime time game against the Buckeyes, things went extremely and predictably wrong for the guys in red jerseys very quickly.
Ohio State’s first nine drives netted 50, 60, 90, 50, 55, 72, 16, 57, and 67 yards. The only one that finished with less than half a field gained was cut short by the end of the first half.
The Buckeyes did whatever they wanted, whenever and however they wanted.
Justin Fields went 15-for-21 for 212 yards and three touchdowns passing. He also ran for 41 yards and another score.
J.K. Dobbins had 177 yards rushing at an absurd 7.4 yards per carry.
They went 7-for-8 on third down conversions in the first half, and the only failure came at the end of a 13-play, 90-yard drive.
They did this on the road, in front of what started out as a rocking prime-time crowd, without their normal starting right tackle.
“We kind of came in hitting on all cylinders,” said OSU head coach Ryan Day after the game. “That was great to see, I thought the line did a good job, the backs ran hard, and Justin (Fields) made some really big time throws.”
There was some thought during the week that a primetime atmosphere in a hostile stadium could present a challenge for the Buckeyes’ young quarterback. Once the game kicked off, that question was answered pretty quickly.
“We had to play against a big crowd and they were loud, at the beginning at least,” said Fields. “I think we handled it well, we just came out and jumped on them early and didn’t let up.”
That relentless effort was obvious on the drive chart, where the Bucks scored on eight of the first nine possessions. There were six touchdowns, two field goals, and a promising drive that was only snuffed out by the combination of a holding penalty and the end of the first half.
At this point, the Buckeyes are running out of things for people to doubt them about. Next week, they will face their toughest defense to date in Michigan State. Maybe the Spartans can slow this attack down.
After a week off, they have a Friday night game against Northwestern. Maybe the bye week or unusual game day will throw off their feng shui.
Maybe Jonathan Taylor will run wild on the defense when Wisconsin comes to Columbus the following week.
Penn State just hung 59 points on Maryland on the road. Michigan just beat Rutgers by 52. Perhaps one of them could rise up and knock off the Buckeyes. And if not, then Taylor may get another crack at them in Indianapolis.
But it’s starting to look like the only thing that can stop the 2019 Buckeyes is the 2019 Buckeyes.
After the game, Day was clearly pleased, but knows his team still has more work to do in order to truly live long and prosper.
“This is just us trying to improve every week and get better. This was a major challenge for us, so I’m proud of that, but we still have a long way to go,” he said. “This doesn’t mean anything if we don’t keep it going.”