Quick Recap: Ohio State scored 30 consecutive points after an early Cincinnati touchdown, and what was billed as a potential tight game against an in-state foe looked like it would be a laugher. Then Cincinnati battled back and on the strength of two more long touchdown passes to Chris Moore got within one score at 33-28. A Sean Nuernberger field goal stemmed the tide and then J.T. Barrett hit Dontre Wilson and Devin Smith for scores to put the game out of reach. Barrett threw for 330 yards and four touchdowns – two to Smith – and Ezekiel Elliott had a breakout game with 182 yards rushing and a TD. Moore’s 221 yards – all on his three TD grabs of 60, 83 and 78 yards – set an OSU opponent record in Ohio Stadium.
Urban Said: “We're an offensive line-driven team, and they won the game for us. They controlled that line of scrimmage. They protected our quarterback. J.T. played well. Other than a dropped third down and a fumble, I was very pleased for the night, offensively. Defensively, we're back to the drawing board. And pass coverage, a couple of corners got beat and we gave up big plays. You can say other than that, but we've got to get that fixed. You can't play championship football until that gets fixed. ”
Play of the Game: For all of the offensive fireworks from Ohio State – including the late-third quarter touchdown to Wilson that really sealed the game – the play of the game was made by Joey Bosa. The All-America defensive end wasn’t blocked on a first-quarter pass rush and crushed Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel, and the ball bounded backward to the end zone. A Bearcats lineman swiped it out of play for a safety that extended OSU’s lead to 16-7, and the Buckeyes scored off the free kick to extend the 14-7 advantage into a significant 23-7 lead.
Player of the Game: Elliott, who didn’t find the end zone more than once but still put together a defining performance. His 182 yards were a career high at the time, and he rarely went down on first contact. OSU’s offensive line was hugely impressive for the first time all year, blowing the UC line off the ball, but Elliott made sure he maximized every run and started to show glimpses of the ball carrier he’d become by the end of the season. His 3-yard TD run in the first quarter also gave the Buckeyes the lead for good.
What Was Accomplished: Ohio State finished off a run against in-state foes with a 2-0 record, and in the end this was an impressive win against a team that would share the American title. This was the first game that showed the hallmarks of this Ohio State team – an ability to respond to adversity, standout quarterback play, timely big plays from Bosa, the hard running of Elliott and a much improved offensive line.