In its final nonconference matchup against Miami (Ohio) Saturday, Ohio State turned out its fourth consecutive blowout victory with a 76-5 drubbing of the Redhawks. The 71-point win was Ohio State’s widest margin of victory since it beat Florida A&M in 2013. Despite the landslide result, there was still plenty to learn about the Buckeyes. Here’s five takeaways from the dominant performance:
Fields’ touchdowns piling up
With 54 touchdowns in 2018, Dwayne Haskins was a touchdown machine.
On pace to score 12 more than Haskins this season, sophomore quarterback Justin Fields is a touchdown factory.
With four through the air and two on the ground in the second quarter alone Saturday, Fields’ 19 touchdowns this season trail only Washington State redshirt senior quarterback Anthony Gordon, who threw nine on Saturday.
Fields set a new career-high with a 53-yard bomb to redshirt senior wide receiver K.J. Hill, added a 30-yard strike to senior wide receiver Binjimen Victor and tossed a pair of scores to sophomore wide receiver Chris Olave.
Averaging nearly five touchdowns a game against unranked, non-Power Five opponents is one thing, but starting next weekend, Ohio State enters a Big Ten gauntlet that includes four ranked opponents.
Haskins dominated nonconference opponents as well, but added three more six-touchdown performances against stiffer Big Ten competition.
Fields passed the preliminaries with flying colors, but the true test lies ahead.
Okudah on a roll
Jeffrey Okudah is a projected high first-round NFL draft pick as one of the nation’s top cornerbacks, but entering Saturday, there was one glaring omission on the junior’s career stat line:
Okudah said prior to the season that he wouldn’t leave Ohio State without one, and after his pick of Miami sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert in the second quarter Saturday, he won’t have to.
“I’m feeling pretty good about that, just to kind of get a monkey off my back so to say,” Okudah said.
More than an empty stat, the turnover gave the Buckeyes possession at the Miami 41-yard-line, setting up a Fields touchdown scamper just three plays later.
Finally adding a pick to his resume, Okudah is one step closer to attaining his preseason goal of 3-6 interceptions in what will likely be his final season in Columbus.
Special teams shows out
It may not be why they came to Ohio State, but head coach Ryan Day said the best players in the program will play on special teams.
That precedent is paying off in spades, as the Buckeyes have blocked a punt in each of the past two games and blocked a field goal one game prior.
Sophomore cornerback Sevyn Banks supplied the big play Saturday, coming off the corner to stuff a punt attempt to give Ohio State possession in Miami territory. The Buckeyes would go up 42-5 on a touchdown grab by Victor just four plays later.
“We had the blocked punt and the interception by Jeff, and you’re playing with a short field, makes all the difference in the world,” Day said.
Banks isn’t a starter, but one of Fields’ top targets in Olave swung the momentum against Indiana with his punt block, and junior defensive end Chase Young deflected a Cincinnati field goal the week prior.
Under the tutelage of first-year special teams coordinator Matt Barnes, the precedent has been set for potential game-changing special team plays at any juncture.
Scintillating second quarter
The second quarter has been a gold mine for Ohio State in back-to-back weeks.
After scoring 23 in 11 minutes against Indiana, the Buckeyes outdid themselves Saturday with a 42-point quarter, a program-high since at least 1960.
“Just the way we reacted, I think that was kind of the first time we hit a little bit of adversity this year,” Fields said. “So just seeing that bounce-back, that was great.”
For the first time this season, Ohio State trailed in the first quarter, down 5-0 to Miami after a strip-sack safety and a field goal.
The Buckeyes were outgained 113-70 in opening quarter yardage, before six touchdowns, three turnovers and a blocked punt briskly removed any semblance of wind from the Redhawks’ sails.
Slow starts the past two weeks have seemed like afterthoughts in the wake of landslide blowouts, but the upcoming conference schedule may not be as forgiving to early gaffes.
Somewhere between the fourth and seventh Ohio State touchdowns of the first half, it became evident that the Buckeye starters would receive little to no action in the second half.
Unfortunately for Miami, the onslaught didn’t stop there.
The Ohio State backups continued to dominate, leading the Buckeyes to a 27-0 second half thanks to a couple of key performances.
Redshirt senior quarterback Chris Chugunov continued to prove that he deserves the No. 2 spot on the depth chart, going 6-of-7 for 86 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter.
Five-star prospect and freshman wide receiver Garrett Wilson made his second highlight-reel touchdown catch of the past three games, hauling in a Chugunov 38-yard 50-50 ball with a defender draped all over him.
Wilson’s counterpart, freshman wide receiver Jameson Williams, found the end zone for the first time as a Buckeye with a 61-yard catch-and-run. Williams’ 74 receiving yards were second only to Hill, who had 78.
“Both of those guys have practiced harder,” Day said. “I thought their approach to the game has been better and their attitude has been better. And lo and behold, here we go. Now we start to see some things happening.”
The second and third-string defense also shined for Ohio State, giving up just 24 second half yards to the Redhawks.