That changed against Florida A&M.
A week ago against California, players like junior tight end Jeff Heuerman and junior wide receiver Evan Spencer were stuck facilitating big moments and big plays for their teammates – throwing key blocks and excelling at other bits of dirty work. On Saturday against FAMU, Heuerman, Spencer and other aspirants took center stage in Ohio State's 76-0 beating of its Football Championship Subdivision guest.
Heuerman and fellow tight end Nick Vannett came into the game against the Rattlers with six catches over the first three games, but the former shined brightly in the early going against FAMU with four first-half catches and an early touchdown.
Spencer had an even bigger day, catching four balls for 50 yards and two touchdowns, the second of which made Kenny Guiton the first quarterback in program history to complete six touchdown passes in a game.
Freshman running back Ezekiel Elliott came off the bench in the second half and capitalized on the many running plays the Buckeyes ran out of respect for their overwhelmed opponent. Elliott went for 162 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries (an average of 11.6 yards per carry), all of which are career highs for the player.
"Jeff Heuerman had to get his hands on the ball," Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said after the game. "Some other guys had to get some. It's not that we haven't tried, (but) those situations came up. I wanted to throw the ball. I wanted to get the ball in the hands of some guys."
Heuerman had the ball in his hands early and often, and his hunger to be included in the offense showed. On his scoring play, Heuerman bullied his way into the north end zone, lowering a shoulder into Rattlers cornerback Devonte Johnson before crossing the ilne. Teammates teased him about the aggressive jaunt to paydirt, Heuerman said.
"I just saw the goal line," Heuerman said. "It was kind of a fake power play. … I mean, I haven't seen it on film or anything but Chris (Fields) told me that I was fighting pretty good to get in there."
For his part, Spencer was targeted in the end zone three times, catching two while falling away from Guiton's end zone-bound pass during the first quarter. Spencer said he doesn't mind having to wait his turn to contribute to the Buckeyes offense.
"I've never heard of having too many weapons being a bad thing," said Spencer, whose only previous career touchdown came in 2011. "It's a good thing to have as much depth as we do, and we know as players that pretty much everyone can go in and make an impact."
It became evident early in the game that Ohio State was a stronger team than FAMU, and the game quickly got away from the visitors as the Buckeyes took a 55-0 lead into halftime. Ohio State's 76 points are the sixth-most scored in a single game in the program's 124 years.
Games like that make running an offense a complicated proposition as coaches want to give their players game reps but respect their opponent, too. FAMU started to fade fast, but Meyer said the players that saw the ball deserved to see it. The fans deserved to see it, too, he added.
"The thing is if you get depth on your field, you tell Ezekiel Elliott not to run hard, he'll look at you like, ‘I'm running hard because I have to get more carries,' " Meyer said.
"What do we take out of (the game)? We get to play in one of the biggest stadiums in college football, 103,000 people came out to watch us play. They have a right to see our kids play hard and they did."
Ohio State (4-0) begins Big Ten conference play next week against visiting Wisconsin.