Though Ohio State entered the game as the second-ranked team in the country the Buckeyes looked like anything but a top team in Saturday night’s 31-16 upset loss to No. 5 Oklahoma at Ohio Stadium.
Instead, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield dominated the Buckeyes’ inexperienced secondary without sat tight end Mark Andrews, and the Sooners’ defense shut down the Ohio State passing game. Mayfield completed 27-of-35 passes for 386 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s a good player, really good player,” coach Urban Meyer said. “And I told him afterwards. Got a lot of respect. I love his competitiveness and energy.”
The Ohio State offense struggled to find its rhythm in the first half. The Buckeyes collected just 92 total yards, compared to Oklahoma’s 222 yards of offense. Barrett completed five of 11 passes for only 25 yards and was sacked twice in the half. He wasn’t much more productive the rest of the game either, as he went 19-for-35 in the air for 183 yards. The quarterback rushed 18 times for 66 yards.
Wideout K.J. Hill, Ohio State’s leading receiver, caught five passes for 44 yards. Ohio State gained just 350 total yards and was penalized nine times for 87 yards. Meyer ensured Barrett was not solely to blame for the loss.
“I’m going to make it perfectly clear, there’s not a bull’s eye on J.T. Barrett,” Meyer said. “It’s part of the system and a group that have to get better.”
What was an offensive struggle in the first half, without a single touchdown, completely changed in the third quarter. The Sooners found the end zone twice, and Ohio State scored one touchdown and connected on a field goal.
Both teams traded punts before Mayfield hit wide receiver Mykel Jones for a 42-yard pass and, on the next play, found wideout Lee Morris for an 18-yard touchdown to put Oklahoma ahead 17-13 late in the third quarter.
Oklahoma began pouring it on in the fourth quarter, as the Sooners capped off a 64-yard drive with a touchdown, then intercepted quarterback J.T. Barrett and wideout Jordan Smallwood followed that by scampering into the end zone to give his team a 31-13 lead that proved to be insurmountable.
The Sooners began the game aggressive on offense. In just his second game as a head coach, Lincoln Riley decided to send his offense out for the first down rather than punt on fourth downs on Oklahoma’s first and second drives of the game.
On their first drive of the game, the Sooners were denied on the first fourth-down attempt by the Buckeyes as Mayfield couldn’t connect with his intended receiver. But on the second fourth down in as many drives, the Oklahoma quarterback went deep, drawing a pass interference penalty to extend the drive.
The next play, linebacker Chris Worley knocked the ball loose from running back Abdul Adams and defensive tackle Jashon Cornell picked it up to give Ohio State possession on its own 25-yard line. That was the first of two first-half fumbles by the Sooners that were recovered by the Buckeyes. Wideout Jeff Badet let the ball slip out of his hands and safety Damon Webb recovered the ball, placing Ohio State on Oklahoma’s 49-yard line.
The Sooners entered Ohio State territory on four occasions in the first half, but managed only a single field goal, which tied the game at three points apiece going into halftime. Kicker Austin Seibert connected on a 35-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter. Seven minutes prior, he missed a 37-yard attempt wide to the right.
Ohio State’s only first-half points came on a 24-yard field goal by kicker Sean Nuernberger.
Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins once again got the start versus Oklahoma after he set the record for most rushing yards by a freshman in program history last week. Dobbins rushed 13 times, picking up 72 yards and a touchdown during the game.
Redshirt sophomore Mike Weber, who has dealt with a hamstring injury since the beginning of fall camp, didn’t play until the second quarter and only took three carries for 29 yards, appearing to still be hampered by his injury. After the game, he said he was not feeling 100 percent yet.
H-back Parris Campbell took the opening kickoff of the third quarter to the Oklahoma 44-yard line, giving the Buckeyes a necessary spark. Dobbins finished the drive with the first touchdown of the game, taking a carry six yards into the end zone.
But the Sooners responded with a quick score of their own as Mayfield found senior fullback Dimitri Flowers for a 36-yard touchdown to cap off a seven-play, 44-yard drive and tie the game at 10.
Ohio State, looking to retake the lead, handed the ball off to Dobbins on three straight plays and the freshman gained 37 yards. On the next play, Barrett dropped back and connected with sophomore receiver Austin Mack for a 31-yard gain — the longest pass play of the game for Ohio State — which set the Buckeyes up at the 7-yard line. Mack exited the game with an apparent injury after the play.
But Ohio State failed to score a touchdown and kicker Sean Nuernberger had to kick his second field goal of the game to give the Buckeyes a 13-10 lead with 8:10 remaining in the third quarter.
After Ohio State turned the ball over on downs on Oklahoma’s 36-yard line to begin the fourth quarter, the Sooners, buoyed by a pass interference penalty by cornerback Damon Arnette, drove the ball inside the Buckeyes’ 10-yard line. There, Mayfield found running back Trey Sermon in the flats for a 10-yard touchdown pass to give his team a 24-13 lead with 11:11 remaining in the game.
On the first play of the following drive, Barrett turned the ball over as cornerback Parnell Motley picked off the three-time captain. Mayfield handed the ball off to Smallwood who scored a 3-yard touchdown which gave the Sooners a 31-13 lead with 9:26 remaining.
Nuernberger connected on his third field goal of the game, a 32-yard attempt, to pull Ohio State within two touchdowns.
Ohio State will look to bounce back when it hosts Army on Sept. 16 at 4:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.