A week after its first loss of the season, No. 8 Ohio State (2-1, 1-0) bounced back with a solid, yet unspectacular performance, defeating Army 38-7 Saturday evening at Ohio Stadium.
Both teams took advantage of extended drives, but Army (2-1) dominated the time of possession, despite being outgained 586-278 yards by Ohio State. The Black Knights controlled the ball for 36:57, while the Buckeyes maintained possession for 18:27.
The Buckeyes’ offense relied heavily on short throws designed to get playmakers in space to used their superior athleticism. Redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett finished the game 25-of-33 for 270 yards and two touchdowns. He set the record for most career touchdowns accounted for in Big Ten history, surpassing former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees with 107 touchdowns.
“I’ve known about the Big Ten Conference for probably 40-some years, and of all the great players that have played here, to say you’re the number one touchdown maker in the history of the Big Ten Conference, that’s awesome,” coach Urban Meyer said. “That’s something that — that’s going to be a hard one to break.”
As has been the case since the latter portion of last season, Barrett struggled to connect with receivers on deep passes as the redshirt senior completed three passes for at least 20 yards.
After the 31-16 loss to Oklahoma, Meyer and co-offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said the offense needed to establish a flow. The Buckeyes did not have a single three-and-out. Ohio State only punted twice and scored on long drives of 13, 12 and eight plays.
J.K. Dobbins spurred the Buckeye offense. He had 172 rushing yards on 13 carries in his third career start. On the fifth play of the game’s opening drive, Dobbins took a handoff 36 yards to spark an offense that spread the ball around to its receivers. Barrett finished Ohio State’s first drive with a touchdown, but Dobbins scored a 2-yard touchdown on the next drive.
“He’s a perfect tailback,” Meyer said of the freshman. “He’s a space player that we need.”
Redshirt sophomore running back Mike Weber entered the game on the second drive and had four rushes for 13 yards against Army. Weber, who has dealt a hamstring injury, did not play until the second quarter last week.
After a punt by Drue Chrisman pinned Army at the 1-yard line with 1:02 remaining in the opening quarter, the Black Knights used an 18-play, 99-yard drive to score their first touchdown of the game. The prolonged drive took 9:37 and took Ohio State’s momentum it had accumulated after scoring in two of its first three drives.
Three players on Army, which rushed for at least 50 yards. Running back Darnell Woolfolk led the Black Knights in rushing with 74 yards on 15 carries. Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw attempted seven passes, but only completed two for 19 yards.
In the second quarter, Bradshaw slightly underthrew his target, which allowed redshirt senior safety Erick Smith to lay out and deflect a pass, preventing a touchdown. Smith also saved the Buckeyes from allowing a kick return for touchdown and nearly picked off an errant pass in the third quarter.
Redshirt junior wideout Johnnie Dixon did not play for the Buckeyes. He has dealt with multiple injuries during his career, but entered the game second on the team with 77 receiving yards. Redshirt senior middle linebacker Chris Worley exited the game in the first half and was replaced by redshirt freshman Tuf Borland, who led the team with 12 tackles.
“Coach told [Borland] earlier in the week, ‘Get ready to play a lot more this week’ because he’s been doing so well in practice,” redshirt junior defensive end Sam Hubbard said. “He’s an instinctive player and he got his opportunity, and he made the most of it.”
In an added offensive wrinkle, H-back Parris Campbell lined up at running back, a position he primarily played in high school. Though his biggest carry, a 59-yard rush late in the second quarter, was called back due to a holding penalty, Campbell rushed twice times for 26 yards. He also caught six passes for 54 yards.
“It’s a shame Parris had the [59-yard touchdown run] called back; it was a lightning bolt too,” Meyer said.
Ohio State will look to win its second game in a row when the Buckeyes welcome UNLV into Ohio Stadium next Saturday at noon.