In theory it should be the kind of spectacle only college football can produce. Ohio State and Nebraska, two programs that have been proud about their brand of football for more than a century, playing on the same field under the Big Ten banner in a primetime broadcast. What could be better?
The games, it turns out. The games could be a lot better.
The first edition was great. Ohio State went to Lincoln for the first time ever in Nebraska’s first Big Ten season, and the Huskers won, 34-27. They’ve played three times since, and none of them were close. The Buckeyes cruised 63-38 in 2012, demolished the Huskers 62-3 last season and did the same again on Saturday night, as No. 9 Ohio State had its way with overmatched Nebraska, 56-14 in Lincoln.
Ohio State scored touchdowns on its first eight drives and did not punt the entire night. J.T. Barrett posted one of the best statistical nights of his lengthy career, hitting a video game-like 27-of-33 passes for 325 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing 10 times for 48 yards and two more scores. J.K. Dobbins added 12 carries for a game-high 106 yards and a long touchdown run of his own, and Mike Weber poured in 82 yards on 18 carries.
Overall, Ohio State threw for 354 yards on 39 attempts and rushed 47 times for 279 yards, adding up to 633 yards on 7.36 yards per play with 41 first downs and 10 third-down conversions on 13 attempts.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes’ defense held Nebraska scoreless in the first half for the second time this season — that feat had been accomplished once in the previous 20 years — and limited Nebraska to 44 yards on 16 carries. Nebraska threw the ball nearly every play because it knew it had no chance of running on Ohio State, but it had no chance of throwing on Ohio State, either. Tanner Lee completed 23-of-38 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns, but the lion’s share of those yards came after the Huskers were already down 42 points.
Ohio State (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) looked every much like a Big Ten and College Football Playoff contender. Nebraska (3-4, 2-2 Big Ten) looked like a team that will be making a coaching change after the season ends.
And whoever Nebraska’s next coach is needs to just turn on the first half film of tonight’s game to see how far Nebraska is from the top of the sport.