COLUMBUS – If this had been a road game, Ohio State would have heard the dreaded, “Overrated, overrated,” chant.
As it was, Oklahoma’s fan were too happy, too outnumbered or too polite to say it after the No. 5 Sooners dominated No. 2 Ohio State 31-16 on Saturday night at Ohio Stadium.
But they might have been thinking it. And probably quite a few Ohio State fans were thinking it, too, and wondering if there are any quick fixes for the Buckeyes’ problems.
Oklahoma, led by quarterback Baker Mayfield (27 of 35, 386 yards passing and three touchdowns), came on strong in the second half after the two teams traded field goals on their way to a 3-3 halftime tie.
Mayfield nullified Ohio State’s highly rated defensive line with his quick feet and took apart its inexperienced defensive backfield with precision passing. He was 16 of 17 for 228 yards and three TDs in the second half.
After it was over, he grabbed an Oklahoma team flag, ran along the back of the north end zone, along the west sideline and then to the block O at midfield and planted the flag pole into the artificial turf at Ohio Stadium, where he and his teammates celebrated.
“It was awful,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “We got beat by a good team, a very good team and a quarterback that was dynamic. I thought our defense hung in there. Our offense was bad, so we’re going to do what we do, which is go back to work as hard as we possibly can. We’ll start tonight or tomorrow and figure this thing out.”
OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett was 19 of 35 for 183 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. It was the fourth time in the last five games he has thrown for fewer than 200 yards and the third time in the last five games he hasn’t had a touchdown pass.
When Meyer was asked why the passing game was inefficient, he said, “It’s not one thing. It’s several things. I have some ideas we’re going to work on as a staff but I’m not going to share them right now. Last week (against Indiana) we threw the ball decently and this week we did not.
“I want to make it perfectly clear there is not a bulls eye on J.T. Barrett. He’s part of a system and a group that has to get better,” Meyer said.
He also said he is not considering starting a different quarterback. “We’ve seen him (Barrett) play exceptional and he will play exceptional next week. We’ve worked extremely hard at it (the passing game). It wasn’t good tonight. We’ve got to get the damn thing fixed and we will.”
After a first half in which neither team had a touchdown, Ohio State and Oklahoma both scored on their first possession of the second half.
OSU went 44 yards in seven plays for a scorer after Parris Campbell returned the opening kickoff 56 yards to Oklahoma’s 44-yard line. Freshman J.K. Dobbins got the touchdown on a 6-yard run at 12:37 of the third quarter for a 10-3 Ohio State lead.
Oklahoma answered with a five-play, 67-yard drive, which ended with Mayfield throwing a 36-yard touchdown pass to Dimitri Flowers to tie the game 10-10.
Ohio State went up 13-10 on a 24-yard field goal by Sean Nuernberger with 8:10 to play in the third quarter.
Oklahoma took the lead back at 17-13 with a four-play, 92-yard drive that ended with Mayfield throwing an 18-yard touchdown pass to Lee Morris.
That was just the beginning. The Sooners scored two more second-half touchdowns as Ohio State flailed and failed offensively and defensively, and went up 31-13 with nine minutes left in the game.
Ohio State was also outplayed by a significant margin by Oklahoma in the first half also but did not pay for it.
Oklahoma outgained Ohio State 221 yards to 87 by halftime. It did not punt in the first two quarters and advanced into OSU territory on all five of its drives but had only a field goal to show for it.
Two Sooners fumbles and a missed field goal helped Ohio State stay even despite the disparity in yardage and time of possession.
Oklahoma’s first four drives ended at Ohio State’s 36-yard line, its 25-yard line its 49-yard line and its 20-yard line.
Freshman J.K. Dobbins rushed for 72 yards on 13 carries to lead Ohio State’s ground game. Mike Weber played for the first time this season after straining a hamstring in the preseason and rushed for 29 yards on three carries.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau