NORMAN, Okla. — The game that was hyped up for weeks fulfilled the desires of many Ohio State football fans in the first half. After a shaky start for the Buckeyes, OSU recovered by rattling off two unanswered touchdowns and never looked back, eventually topping the Sooners 45-24.
Oklahoma received the ball and promptly marched down the field before an injury to starting redshirt freshman left guard Cody Ford slowed the opening drive for the Sooners. The drive stalled, and the Buckeyes forced a field goal attempt, which was missed from 27 yards out.
Things never got back on track for the Sooners, as Oklahoma would be playing catchup throughout the first half. Junior H-back Curtis Samuel scampered in for a 36-yard touchdown to give the Buckeyes a lead they would never relinquish.
It was a night that saw the Buckeyes dominate both the offensive and defensive lines of Oklahoma.
“I think we controlled the line of scrimmage,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said. “When you do that you have a good chance of winning the game.”
With Oklahoma looking to gain momentum by going for it on fourth down early, the Buckeyes found themselves up 14-0 after an outstanding defensive play.
Filling in for injured junior weakside linebacker Dante Booker, sophomore Jerome Baker intercepted a tipped pass from Sooner redshirt junior quarterback Baker Mayfield and turned on the jets for a 68-yard touchdown.
“(Junior defensive end) Jayln Holmes, he tipped it,” Baker said. “I looked up and it fell right into my hands.”
Oklahoma redshirt sophomore Joe Mixon answered back with a touchdown of his own, returning a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Finding a hole in the middle, Mixon broke free and was nearly untouched throughout the return.
Although the score was upheld, video review later revealed that Mixon dropped the ball before crossing the goal line. Although all scoring plays are to be reviewed, the touchdown for the Sooners remained.
All questions about the health of redshirt sophomore wide receiver Noah Brown were answered in the first half, as Buckeye fans witnessed three touchdown receptions, with the last one of the first half dropping the jaws of fans throughout the stadium.
Being guarded closely in the left corner of the endzone, Brown pinned the ball against the back of Oklahoma cornerback Michiah Quick, maintaining possession and dragging his foot. The score put the Buckeyes up 35-17 with just six seconds left in the half.
Brown finished the night with four touchdowns.
The Buckeye defense struggled to limit the amount of yards picked up by the Sooners in the first two quarters but kept Oklahoma from gaining the lead. Although OSU surrendered 258 yards in the opening half, the Silver Bullets defended well enough to keep their team in the lead.
The second-half was much of the same for the Buckeyes. Smothering defense and a healthy use of Brown in the redzone kept OSU out in front by a large margin.
After receiving the second-half kickoff, redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett quickly led OSU down the field, setting Brown up for another touchdown reception, this time from eight yards out. Four of Brown’s five receptions were for touchdowns, while every one of Barrett’s touchdowns were to the redshirt sophomore.
The grind-it-out attack used by the Buckeyes quickly wore down Oklahoma in the second half. After Barrett and Brown led OSU for much of the first half, the combination of redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber, Barrett and Samuel took over the game.
Finishing the game with an average of 6.1 yards per carry combined, the three players racked up 291 rushing yards throughout the contest.
Mayfield struggled again in the second half, as OSU’s tight defense in the secondary and pass rush kept the redshirt junior scrambling from the pocket for much of the second half. He finished his night going 17-for-32 for 226 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The defensive lineman for OSU took into account the mobile ability of Mayfield, and made sure to keep him in check as best as they could.
“Sometimes if you were going to win your one-on-one matchup, you couldn’t take it. You had to cage the pocket and collapse him” said OSU redshirt sophomore defensive end Sam Hubbard. “There was one time I beat the tackle so clean that he escaped right away. Stuff like that, you just had to keep him caged and not give him any running lanes because he was out of there really fast.”
The Buckeyes even received cheers from the OSU faithful in the Oklahoma crowd. During the third quarter, an “O-H-I-O” erupted in Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Outscoring Oklahoma 14-7 in the second half, OSU walked away triumphant with a 45-24 victory. After a week filled with predictions favoring each side, the Buckeyes proved they can perform on the biggest stages.
Although OSU was all smiles following the game, redshirt junior cornerback Gareon Conley sustained an upper-body injury during the first half. Conley did not return, and his status is up in the air for Week 4.
Meyer said he was unsure of the status of Conley after the game, but said as far as he knew, the redshirt junior was doing well.
Next week, the Buckeyes will be on a bye week. After the break, the Buckeyes are scheduled to return to Ohio Stadium to open Big Ten play against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Kickoff is set for noon on Oct. 1.
This article has been amended with quotes following post game interviews.