Ohio State football fans came into Saturday’s matchup against Tulsa with high hopes after the team’s drubbing of Bowling Green last week. Buckeye fans saw a much different game in the first half from their team against the Golden Hurricane, but OSU was too much to handle in the second half, winning 48-3.
Things could not have started better for the Buckeyes, as the first pass from Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans was tipped at the line, and intercepted by redshirt sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
A short field did not help OSU find the endzone early. After two failed run plays, a pass from redshirt junior J.T. Barrett intended for redshirt sophomore Noah Brown was swatted away, forcing the Buckeyes to trot out their field goal unit.
After senior kicker Tyler Durbin gave OSU a 3-0 lead, the game fell into a defensive stalemate. Sloppy offensive play and little movement by either team’s offensive units kept things close throughout the first quarter.
“The offensive line gets a lot of praise around,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said. “Also, when things aren’t going well, it’s probably because we’re not playing up to our expectation level.”
Coming off a stellar game against San Jose State, Tulsa junior running back D’Angelo Brewer found wide-open running lanes for much of the first half, slashing through the Buckeyes front seven for 47 first-half yards.
The absence of redshirt junior Tracy Sprinkle was apparent for the Buckeyes. A distinct lack of push along the defensive line allowed Evans to remain in the pocket and create space for Brewer to pick up multiple first downs.
“The loss of Tracy Sprinkle…it set us back a bit because he’s such a great leader and a great player,” OSU redshirt sophomore defensive end Sam Hubbard said. “These young guys had a good day and stepped up.”
Hubbard also said he was pleased with the play of redshirt freshman Davon Hamilton and redshirt freshman Dre’Mont Jones, who are filling in for the injured Sprinkle. Combined, the two players picked up three tackles.
OSU redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett struggled to connect with receivers, completing eight passes on 14 attempts and only racking up 69 yards. His biggest target of the first half, redshirt sophomore Terry McLaurin, had a 16-yard catch, which was the longest reception of the first half.
Without much of an offensive attack, the Silver Bullets stepped up in a big way, picking off Evans three times in the first half, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
Redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker’s interception was good enough for a 26-yard return, putting the Buckeyes up 13-3.
Redshirt sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore picked off two first half passes, returning one all the way back for a score with less than a minute left in the half.
“This was my first pick six ever; I was excited to just get out there,” Lattimore said. “I had some blockers in front of me, so they really helped me out, too.”
A delay for inclement weather lasted from 5:25 p.m. until 6:35 p.m., as lightning was spotted multiple times near the stadium during the pause in play. The halftime show was cancelled, and many OSU fans left the stadium during the hour-long storm.
However, the Buckeyes were a different team in the second half, leaning heavily on the legs of junior H-back Curtis Samuel.
On the initial drive of the second half, Samuel busted off a few double-digit yardage runs, and set a key block that opened a lane for Barrett to break the goal line. The touchdown marked Barrett’s second rushing touchdown of the season.
The hour-long break seemed to create a spark for OSU on both sides of the ball, with the Buckeyes preventing Tulsa from scoring during the second half. Evans threw his fourth interception on the day, and once again failed to find paydirt.
Opposing offenses have struggled against OSU so far this season, with the Buckeyes defense having yet to surrender a touchdown to another team’s offense.
Weber was the leading rusher of the day for OSU, carrying the ball 17 times for 92 yards and a touchdown. Barrett finished the day with a statline of 14 for 22 and 149 yards, with no passing touchdowns and two rushing scores.
“I thought the best thing he did is he hit the hole hard, he ran hard, but he also hung on that ball,” Meyer said. “It’s night and day compared to who he was a year ago.”
Samuel came back to Earth a bit after racking up 261 all-purpose yards last Saturday, failing to find the endzone after scoring three times against Bowling Green. He still managed to gain 140 total yards, much of which came in the second half.
Senior H-back Dontre Wilson picked up a late touchdown run, which was his first rushing touchdown of the year.
The wide receiver’s play for OSU was heavily criticized by Meyer last week, and there was little in terms of improvement by the unit. Wideouts for the Buckeyes combined for five receptions, 49 yards and no scores.
The Buckeyes face a tough test next week in Norman, Oklahoma, against the Sooners. 14th-ranked Oklahoma lost in its first week against then-No. 15 Houston, taking a hit to its ranking. Both OSU and Oklahoma will be looking for a win to remain prominent in the national picture.
The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium next Saturday.
This article has been amended by quotes following the post-game conference.