COLUMBUS — No. 12 Oregon (2-0) dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and avoided costly errors on the way to posting a wire-to-wire victory over No. 3 OSU (1-1) in the home opener for the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes came into the game favored by 14 points, mostly on the strength of their skill positions. In fact, the skill positions lived up to their billing.
In his second career-start OSU quarterback C.J. Stroud went 35 for 54 and 484 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. Senior wide receiver Chris Olave grabbed 12 passes for 126 yards, Garrett Wilson had eight receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba had seven receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
The passing game was effective, but the Buckeyes could not establish a running game, rushing for just 128 total yards in 31 attempts. The vaunted Ohio State offensive line had problems opening lanes all day, and when they did, the Oregon back seven was up to the task of preventing big plays in the running game. The Buckeyes had just one rushing attempt that went for more than 20 yards, a 21-yard gain by Miyan Williams. The rest of OSU’s rushing game was unspectacular.
Oregon on the other hand was having their way with the Ohio State defense in the running game. The Ducks posted 269 net yards rushing and only had one carry that went for a loss, that a one-yard setback. Much of the credit for that success goes to the Duck’s offensive line which also dominated in the passing game. Ohio State registered no sacks and Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown took advantage of the clean pocket and ample time to throw to put up 236 yards passing and two touchdowns. He threw no interceptions.
Oregon scored first early in the second quarter to take a 7-0 lead. It was a lead they would never surrender. Ohio State managed to tie the game at 7 all, but Oregon answered quickly to retake the lead at 14-7. The Ducks held that lead at the half, then took the second half kickoff and marched to another score to go up 21-7. The teams traded touchdowns again to make it 28-14. The Scarlet and Gray cut the lead to 28-21 early in the fourth quarter, but Oregon immediately answered with a scoring drive to go back up two scores.
Ohio State could not run the ball but Stroud had a hot hand passing in the second half to keep the Buckeyes close.
Ohio State scored one last time with 7:16 remaining when Stroud hit Smith-Njigba with a 15-yard scoring pass. A rare three-and-out by the OSU defense gave the Buckeyes the ball but a holding call thwarted the drive. OSU got one more possession with 4:50 remaining. They moved from their own 22 to the Oregon 25 when Stroud threw his only interception of the day to pretty much seal the game. Following an Oregon punt OSU regain possession at their own 10-yard line with 20 seconds remaining and no time outs. With 13 seconds to play Oregon ended the game with a sack of Stroud.
The bottom line in the game was toughness and the ability to make clutch plays and avoid errors. OSU attempted five fourth-down conversions and converted just two. Oregon was four-for-four on fourth downs. The Buckeyes were penalized eight times for 71 yards. Oregon committed just four penalties for 35 yards. Ohio State had one turnover, Oregon none.
[Photo via Ohio State football twitter]