COLUMBUS – Ryan Day was ready for this. So were Ohio State’s players. So was anyone who pays attention to Ohio State football.
After two games of letting an opponent hang around longer than it should have, Ohio State dominated offensively, defensively and about every way it could in a 63-10 win over Western Kentucky on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Day called it “taking the next step.” And no steps were bigger than the ones which took the Buckeyes to the end zone four times in the final eight minutes of the second quarter to turn a close game into a rout.
Western Kentucky (2-1) came into the game with a lot of questions about its defense, which was giving up nearly 500 yards a game, and probably left with a few more, especially after giving up 28 points in the final 8 minutes, 10 seconds of the first half.
The Buckeyes scored those 28 points on just nine plays. In the final 8:10 of the first half OSU had two 1-play scoring drives, a 4-play scoring drive and a 3-play scoring drive.
OSU rolled up 562 yards of total offense and limited Western Kentucky to 284 yards. Quarterback Kyle McCord was 19 of 23 for 318 yards and three touchdowns. Marvin Harrison Jr. caught seven passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. Emeka Egbuka had two touchdown catches. OSU rushed for a season-best 207 yards and TreVeyon Henderson had 88 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns.
“That was a good week of work there. It started on Sunday. Tuesday was a really physical day. Wednesday was a great day. Thursday we were going at it. It was all week because we knew we had to turn this up and we needed to build some momentum going into next week (at Notre Dame),” Day said.
“You saw our team play like that today and that’s what it’s got to be going forward. What we wanted to do in this game was play really, really hard with super-competitive energy. We got that done. That’s the way we’re going to have to play going forward,” he said.
Ohio State scored on its first possession on a 21-yard touchdown run by Henderson at the end of an 8-play, 75-yard drive.
After Western Kentucky cut the lead to 7-3 on a 43-yard field goal by Lucas Carneiro late in the first quarter, Henderson ended another long drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to put the Buckeyes up 14-3 with 10:53 left in the first half.
Western Kentucky got a break to score a touchdown with 8:10 left in the first half when it recovered a fumble by running back Davion Ervin-Poindexter at OSU’s 6-yard line. Three plays later Malachi Corley scored on a 2-yard pass from quarterback Austin Reed to cut Ohio State’s lead to 14-10.
On the first play after WKU’s touchdown McCord connected with Harrison on a 75-yard touchdown play.
That was just the beginning of OSU’s offense looking like a Ryan Day offense for the first time this year.
After stopping Western Kentucky on fourth down on its own 40-yard line, Chip Trayanum went 40 yards for another quick TD on the first play after the stop, which made the lead 28-10.
The next time the Hilltoppers had the ball, former OSU recruit Blue Smith fumbled after being hit by Jordan Hancock and Davison Igbinosun recovered the ball at Western Kentucky’s 48-yard line. Four plays later McCord threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Egbuka to put the Buckeyes up 35-10.
OSU’s defense stopped Western Kentucky again on fourth down in the final minute of the first half. Three plays later – a 4-yard run by McCord, a 40-yard pass to Cade Stover and a 14-yard touchdown pass to Egbuka made it 42-10 at halftime.
The Buckeyes added three more touchdowns in the second half. Tyleik Williams recovered a fumble in the end zone for a TD in the third quarter. Devin Brown threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Carnell Tate in the fourth quarter and Jermaine Matthews Jr. intercepted a pass and returned it 58 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.
OSU’s defense limited Western Kentucky quarterback Austin Reed, who led the nation in passing yards last season, to 207 yards and one touchdown,
“We had a bunch of guys playing fast and violent, there were some really good collisions going on. That’s what we’re looking for – guys flying sideline to sideline, getting our hands on balls in the secondary,” Day said.
He also liked what he saw from the offense.
“We got some explosive runs, we were much better converting on third downs. It wasn’t perfect, we’ll keep working at it but there were some really good things there. When we’re running the ball like we were today, that’s big,” he said.
Day said the offensive line and the running back were challenged during the week leading up to the game. “It was good to see the emotion. You could see how fired up they were,” he said.
McCord said, “I think it was probably our most complete game as an offense. The biggest thing today was we ran the ball well. Any time we can get the running game going like today it opens up the passing game.
“To have a game like this will give all the guys a boost of confidence. Any time you can get the offense and defense going like that, it’s a huge confidence boost.”
No. 6 OSU (3-0) will go to No. 9 Notre Dame (4-0) for a match-up of top ten teams on Saturday night. Cornerback Denzel Burke said he has been anticipating that game for a while.
“It’s been circled on my list since the beginning of the season. It’s a big one. It’s going to test us. We’re ready,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.