By the time Ohio State’s slow-arriving student section filled up, the Buckeyes had already taken a 7-0 lead against UNLV as speedy H-back Parris Campbell raced 69 yards for the opening touchdown on the offense’s second play. The Scarlet and Gray extended the early lead, continued to build upon it and never allowed the Rebels to even feign a threat as Ohio State dominated, winning 54-21 Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium.
Redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett marched his team down the field at will against an overmatched, less-talented UNLV defense, completing 12-of-17 passes for 209 yards and five touchdowns and subbed out before halftime.
“Probably the same thoughts as everybody else,” coach Urban Meyer said. “Let’s go do it against a team that’s equally matched.”
Seven players — wideouts Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon, K.J. Hill, Binjimen Victor, Campbell and walk-on C.J. Saunders and tight end Rashod Berry — caught touchdowns for the Buckeyes, the most in a single game in Ohio State history.
Barrett overthrew sophomore wideout K.J Hill on one of his first passes of the game, but settled in as the Buckeyes scored on all but one of his drives. Campbell led Ohio State with three catches for 105 yards, but fumbled near the goal line on his team’s third drive of the game.
The Rebels offense stood no chance facing off against the Buckeyes’ stout defense. An aggressive, blitz-heavy defensive front pressured redshirt freshman quarterback Armani Rogers the entire game. Late in the first quarter, backed up at the 2-yard line, defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones stuffed a run and forced Ohio State’s first safety of the season.
The Buckeyes racked up four sacks and a season-high 13 tackles for loss. Sophomore defensive end Nick Bosa led the Buckeyes with three tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
“It builds confidence,” Bosa said. “And it just allows you to go through your progressions and just get more used to playing out there. It’s helpful and nice.”
Rogers competed 11-of-19 passes for 88 yards. The Rebels, buoyed by junior running back Lexington Thomas’ 55-yard touchdown, rushed for 41 yards on 176 carries.
With 3:32 left in the second quarter while leading 37-7, redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins replaced Barrett, and first-team All-American center Billy Price subbed out of the blowout.
Haskins threaded the needle to Saunders for his first touchdown of the game, a 28-yard strike across the middle. The strong-armed quarterback went 15-for-23 and 228 yards and tossed two touchdowns. He hit Berry late in the third quarter who rumbled for a 38-yard touchdown, the first of the defensive end-turned-tight end’s career.
“I was just determined to get to the touchdown, get into the end zone and [I] was speechless,” Berry said.
Haskins later threw an interception to linebacker/defensive back Javin White, who took it 65 yards for a touchdown, the first pick-six thrown by an Ohio State quarterback this year.
“That’s inexcusable. Throw it right to the guy,” Meyer said. “Obviously it’s a young player, a freshman. And they’ve gotta go through that.”
Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins took 14 carries 95 yards. Once again, redshirt sophomore running back Mike Weber did not play. He has dealt with a hamstring injury since the beginning of fall camp and missed the first game of the season.
Defensive tackle Robert Landers, offensive guard Matt Burrell, linebacker Chris Worley and cornerback Shaun Wade also did not play for Ohio State due to injuries.
Ohio State will look for its third consecutive victory when the Buckeyes head to Piscataway, New Jersey, next Saturday to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-2) at 7:30 p.m.