New head coach, new starting quarterback? Absolutely no problem for THE™ Ohio State Buckeyes — for the most part.
In his first start under center after transferring in from Georgia during the offseason, Justin Fields accounted for three passing touchdowns and another on the ground… in the first eight minutes of the game. Over the next 52 minutes, No. 5 Ohio State put it in cruise control and eased its way to a 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic in what served as Ryan Day‘s first win as OSU’s full-time head coach.
The 40-year-old Day is now 4-0 overall as a coach, with the first three wins coming as OSU’s interim head coach in place of the suspended Urban Meyer last year. Meyer subsequently stepped down and retired after seven seasons with the Buckeyes.
In the here and now, the majority of the focus was on Fields in that first career start after spending his true freshman season as the backup to Jake Fromm at UGA. While he started off hot in the first half of the first quarter, his play leveled off significantly over the remainder of the game as, in less than four full quarters of work, Fields completed 19-of-26 passes for 229 yards and four touchdown passes through the air as he added another late in the third quarter. The sophomore also totaled 66 yards on the ground, including a 51-yard touchdown on the first possession.
J.K. Dobbins led all rushers with 91 yards on 21 carries and scored OSU’s final touchdown of the day early in the fourth quarter.
It was far from a perfect opening game, though, for the Buckeyes. After scoring four touchdowns on its first four possessions of the game, OSU’s offense bogged down over the next seven as it went punt, punt, fumble, punt, fumble, end of half and punt before Fields hit tight end Jeremy Ruckert from three yards out to end the drought.
Defensively, OSU’s Silver Bullets held FAU to minus-14 yards of first-half offense and 228 for the game. In fairness, a sizable chunk of the Owls’ second-half offense came against Buckeyes’ backups.
Ohio State (1-0) will continue non-conference action next weekend against an in-state opponent, Cincinnati, that knocked off UCLA in its opener. FAU (0-1), meanwhile, will play host to No. 17 UCF at home a week from today.