Ohio State’s defense kept up the energy and Ezekiel Elliott scored three touchdowns to lead the No. 1 Buckeyes past Hawaii, 38-0, on just four days of rest.
The Buckeyes (2-0) took a 14-0 lead into halftime of their home opener Saturday afternoon before pulling away after the break to send the Rainbow Warriors (0-2) on their 4,500-mile trek home empty handed.
After the game, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer credited his team with a “big win,” but added that Hawaii “played their tails off” and took the Buckeye offense out of rhythm.
“They played hard, they played really hard and disrupted us, and we did not execute well,” Meyer said during the postgame press conference.
Meyer, now 40-3 in charge of the Buckeyes, added that he won’t point to the quick turnover between games as a reason for points of stagnant play.
“I think that’s a very solid excuse, one that’s not allowed,” he said.
Aside from Elliott’s three touchdowns, a Jack Willoughby field goal, a Vonn Bell fumble return for a touchdown and a late scoring scamper by Bri’onte dunn completed the shutout.
After topping Virginia Tech, 42-24, on Monday in Blacksburg, Va., Ohio State’s defense set the tone in front of 107,145 spectators at Ohio Stadium by holding Hawaii to just 165 yards and forcing four turnovers in the win.
Along with his recovery for a touchdown, the junior safety Bell had an interception and three pass breakups, while sophomore cornerback Gareon Conley provided an interception and two pass breakups of his own.
Meyer called Bell a “great player” and a “really good tackler” after the game, and praised his team’s overall tackling effort.
Linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Joshua Perry led the Buckeyes with seven total tackles each, while the third starting linebacker, Darron Lee, had two sacks.
Elliott finished the day with 27 carries for 101 yards, marking his seventh-straight 100-yard effort, while Braxton Miller had eight carries for 57 yards. Cardale Jones started at quarterback for Ohio State once again, and finished 12-for-18 for 111 yards. Sophomore J.T. Barrett played in both halves, and completed eight of 15 pass attempts for 70 yards.
After not giving up a sack against the Hokies, the Buckeye offensive line allowed Jones to be sacked twice against Hawaii, and Meyer noted an issue with pass blocking throughout the win.
“We did not protect very well today, we gotta get that fixed,” he said.
The Buckeyes totaled 363 yards on offense and picked up 26 first downs, but were also forced into five punts and fumbled a snap on a field-goal attempt leading to a turnover on downs.
USC transfer Max Wittek started the game two-for-two for Hawaii, but finished just seven-of-24 for 67 yards and two picks through the air. The Rainbow Warriors totaled 80 yards on 35 rushing attempts and converted just two of 14 third downs.
How It Happened
After Ohio State receiver Parris Campbell pinned Hawaii at its own 14-yard line on the opening kick, Wittek broke the Rainbow Warriors out of a hole with a 29-yard strike to Dylan Collie on the first play from scrimmage. But the momentum broke as the Buckeyes forced a punt and took over at their own 30.
Jones carried for 23 yards on Ohio State’s first play, then found Michael Thomas on third-and-11 to keep the drive alive. A false start, a near-pick and a fumbled snap put the Buckeyes in a third-and-21 hole. The snap on the field goal was fumbled as well, giving Hawaii the ball on downs.
Ohio State tightened up on the next two series’, forcing a three-and-out from Hawaii before an 11-play, 77 yard scoring drive, capped by a one-yard plunge from Elliott with 3:25 to play in the first quarter, made it 7-0.
After a pair of Hawaii punts and an OSU punt, a roughing-the-kicker call against Darron Lee in the Hawaii end zone kept the Rainbow Warrior drive alive. But Ohio State eventually took over after Conley’s interception, and Barrett entered the game on the next series.
It came down to third-and-goal, but Barrett guided the Buckeyes to a 14-0 lead on his first drive as Elliott scored his second touchdown of the game.
Hawaii’s longest drive of the day ended with a Vonn Bell interception, after a holding call against Eli Apple and a 17-yard run by Wittek kept it alive.
Neither team found offensive success as the clock ticked down, keeping the score at 14-0 at halftime.
Jones re-entered the game after halftime, but he failed to move the offense as Ohio State punted on its next two drives.
The Buckeyes’ defense set a different tone, forcing a Wittek fumble inside the Hawaii 10-yard line with 10:28 to play in the third. Jones fumbled the first snap of the drive and Elliott failed to make it into the end zone on the next two plays, resulting in a 20-yard field goal for Jack Willoughby to make it 17-0.
Hawaii converted a fourth-and-three in Buckeye territory on the ensuing drive, but Perry sacked Wittek two plays later to set up fourth-and-17 and another Rainbow Warrior punt.
Ohio State converted a fourth-and-three of its own after taking over, then Elliott scored his third of the day with another one-yard plunge, pushing the score to 24-0.
Wittek fumbled three plays later, and Bell scooped the ball and ran untouched for a score for a 31-0 Buckeye lead.
Barrett came back into the game after a Hawaii punt, but it was running back Bri’onte Dunn who capped a five-play, 45-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run to make it 38-0 with 3:51 on the clock.
The Buckeye offense got one more possession after Ohio State’s second-team defense forced a turnover on downs with 1:13 to play. Redshirt-freshman quarterback Stephen Collier made his debut on the drive, but he handed off on each play to run out the clock.