Game Observations: Ohio State Offense vs. Nebraska

These are my initial reactions to Ohio State's win to open the year.
Author:
Publish date:

Here is my instant analysis from Ohio State's 52-17 season-opening victory on Saturday against Nebraska:

Justin Fields looked as poised, calm, explosive and accurate as Ohio State saw all last season. Everything he touched turned to gold on Saturday. He threw one incomplete pass the entire game, and it was a well-thrown ball that Chris Olave dropped in the end zone when he got whacked by a defender. He was also plenty effective extending the pocket with his feet. In total, he accounted for 330 yards of offense and three touchdowns. There was very little he could've done better this afternoon.

Magazine Cover graphic following Ohio State's 52-17 win over Nebraska.

In fact, only Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan, who finished last year's game against Purdue 21-of-22 through the air, had a better completion percentage in any game in Big Ten history. Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz was also 20-of-21 on Friday night in Wisconsin's season-opening win over Illinois.

There were times in the first half that Ohio State fans may have been justifiably frustrated with the lack of success running the football. The first-half numbers for Master Teague and Trey Sermon were fine, but certainly not at the standard Buckeye fans have grown accustomed to seeing. Things opened up nicely in the second half and the team ended up with 222 yards on the ground for the game. I loved what I saw from Steele Chambers—he finished with four carries for 32 yards.

The offensive line gave Fields a TON of time to throw the football. The few times that Fields was under duress (he was sacked three times on the afternoon), Nebraska's coverage was really solid.

The wide receivers played well as a group, but it's impossible for the conversation not to start with Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave today. They combined to catch 13 of Fields' 20 completions, totaling 233 yards and one touchdown. Garrett Wilson's move into the slot is going to cause major problems for opposing defenses this year.

This TD catch from Jaxson Smith-Njigba is one of the best I've ever seen. Unbelievable concentration from the highly-touted true freshman. Brian Hartline has the best receiver's group in the country.

I was impressed with the resiliency and the resolve of the Buckeyes when things were closer than they might've expected late in the first half. Ohio State led 17-14 late in the second quarter and they never panicked. This team has grown accustomed to blowing out most Big Ten teams, and while the final score shows a comfortable win, it was anything but comfortable for the entire first half.

Ryan Day didn't elaborate much on Chris Olave postgame, but his health will be a major factor heading into next week. Olave was on the wrong end of Nebraska's second targeting call of the game and that hit knocked Olave out for the rest of the afternoon. He walked off the field under his own power, but it was a violent collision.

Justin Fields and Garrett Wilson

Justin Fields and Garrett Wilson were Ohio State's offensive stars on Saturday.

Speaking of violent hits—Nebraska was extremely physical this afternoon ... perhaps too much so at some points. Cam Taylor-Britt and Deontai Williams were both ejected for targeting, while another targeting flag was picked up. Ryan Day said postgame that he certainly didn't think Nebraska was playing with malicious intent, but there were some exceptionally tough hits today. Ohio State's toughness was tested and they came out on the right side of things.

I also thought Ohio State was disciplined today. The Buckeyes scored on eight of their 11 drives today, punting twice and losing a tough-luck, replay-induced fumble once (on the hit that knocked Olave out of the game). They didn't commit any drive-killing or drive-stalling penalties, they had no personal fouls only one unforced error.

GAME OBSERVATIONS: OHIO STATE DEFENSE VS. NEBRASKA