A grade card on Ohio State’s 36-31 win over Nebraska in which it made progress but still left a lot of room for improvement:
J.K. Dobbins (163 yards, three touchdowns) and Mike Weber (91 yards) gave Ohio State the doubly dangerous backfield that people expected to see all season. They also got to the second level of Nebraska’s defense several times after four straight games of not doing that consistently. One of Dobbins’ touchdown runs was for 42 yards and Weber’s longest run was 37 yards.
It’s probably good to remember this improvement came against a Nebraska defense that was ranked No. 11 in the Big Ten against the run, though.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins was not at his best, but when 18 of 32 for 252 yards and two touchdowns is regarded as having a bad game, you’re dealing with having created really high expectations.
The biggest flaw on the offensive side of things for OSU probably was turnovers. Weber fumbled twice and lost one, Haskins lost a fumble when he was sacked and also threw an interception, and wide receiver K.J. Hill lost a fumble after a catch. Nebraska scored touchdowns after Haskins’ fumble and Hill’s fumble and Haskins’ interception came with the Buckeyes at Nebraska’s 18-yard line.
OSU’s defense got better but giving up 450 yards total offense and 31 points to a two-win team is not exactly what Urban Meyer was looking for.
Ohio State was behind 21-16 at halftime after allowing three touchdowns and 256 yards total offense in the first half. It was the fifth game in a row the Buckeyes allowed 238 yards or more by halftime and in two of those games they gave up more than 300 yards in the first two quarters.
Sophomore safety Brendon White, the son of four-year Ohio State starter William White, was the defensive standout for OSU. He tied Malik Harrison for the team lead in tackles in the game with 13 and was good enough that many people were left wondering why he hasn’t gotten more playing time the rest of the season.
White’s emergence was timely with cornerback Jeffrey Okudah out with a groin injury, safety Isaiah Pryor sidelined by a shoulder issue and safety Jordan Fuller ejected after a targeting call.
Dre’Mont Jones’ sack of Adrian Martinez on Nebraska’s fifth play of the game was the only time Ohio State got to the Nebraska quarterback.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
Keandre Jones blocked a punt, which got Ohio State on the scoreboard with a safety after Nebraska had taken a 7-0 lead on its opening drive. Drue Chrisman had two punts of more than 50 yards. Hill mishandled a punt but recovered the ball himself.
Viewed by itself in a vacuum, what Ohio State did against Nebraska might be graded more harshly. The Buckeyes fell behind at halftime, went 26 minutes without scoring, turned the ball over three times and allowed 450 yards on defense.
But coming after the disaster at Purdue it can be viewed as progress. A trip to Michigan State this Saturday and the Michigan game on Nov. 24 will be better indicators whether that progress is real or illusory.