Ohio State’s offense found it’s groove after a pair of stagnant performances as the No. 1 Buckeyes rolled to a 38-12 victory over Western Michigan.
Junior quarterback Cardale Jones played into the fourth quarter and tallied a career-high 288 passing yards and two scores to lead Ohio State (4-0) Saturday at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes totaled 511 yards on offense but struggled to stop Western Michigan (1-3) at times as the Broncos finished the game with 338 yards and 37:14 of possession.
Junior running back Ezekiel Elliott topped the century mark for the ninth straight game while the Buckeyes benefited from a defensive touchdown for the third straight game.
Despite his big day, Jones struggled at times with deep passes as he completed just 19 of 33 pass attempts with one interception. Elliott finished the game with 124 yards and score on 16 carries while Curtis Samuel totaled 55 yards and a touchdown on just two carries.
Michael Thomas led the Buckeye receivers with six receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown while linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Joshua Perry paced the defense with 16 and 13 tackles, respectively, and each had a sack. Senior defensive tackle Adolphus Washington provided the defensive points for the Buckeyes with a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown.
J.T. Barrett replaced Jones once the result was in hand, but finished with zero passing yards on three attempts and one interception.
Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell tallied 169 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while the Broncos rushed for 169 yards on 41 attempts, led by 93 yards from Jamauri Bogan.
Daniel Braverman tallied 10 receptions for the Broncos for 123 yards and a touchdown.
How It Happened
Western Michigan got the ball to start things off, but it took Ohio State just 45 seconds to force a punt. Elliott broke free for 26 yards on the Buckeyes’ second play from scrimmage before Jones found Thomas for a 38-yard score just 1:34 into the game.
The Broncos converted five first downs, including a fourth-and-short, before a touchdown run by Jamauri Bogan was called back for holding on their next drive. A snap infraction before the next play pushed Western Michigan to a first-and-25 at the Ohio State 31-yard line. The drive stalled from there, and the Broncos’ field-goal try was blocked by Tyvis Powell to preserve Ohio State’s 7-0 advantage.
After Ohio State punted, Western Michigan found some daylight on its next drive once again, running out the final 4:07 of the first quarter before beginning the second quarter at the Ohio State 24-yard line.
The Broncos held the ball for 12:40 in the first quarter alone.
Darron Lee was carted to the locker room between quarters, but his fellow McMillan came up with a sack on the first play after the break. A holding call on the next snap pushed Western Michigan into second-and-24 and then third-and-16, forcing a 47-yard field goal try which came up well short of the mark.
Ohio State took over with 13:04 to go in the quarter and made it 14-0 with a six-play, 70-yard drive capped by a 37-yard touchdown strike from Jones to Jalin Marshall.
Lee returned to the field on the ensuing drive but Western Michigan connected on a 55-yard touchdown from Terrell to Braverman to cap a four-play, 75-yard series. The Broncos missed the point after, though, making it 14-6 with 8:19 to play in the first half.
Ohio State went three-and-out after the Bronco score, but Johnston pinned the ball at the Western Michigan one after Braverman elected to let the ball bounce, resulting in a 67-yard punt.
Ohio State took over at its own 40 after a punt before Jones found Curtis Samuel for 40 yards on the first play of the drive. Despite having a first-and-goal from the eight-yard line three plays later, Ohio State settled for a 30-yard field goal to make it 17-6.
That lead grew just seven seconds later after Washington picked off a screen pass from Terrell and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, putting the Buckeyes at 24 points after they totaled 20 points against Northern Illinois a week earlier.
A Joshua Perry sack Terrell and an Eli Apple tackle for loss forced another Bronco punt before Jones guided Ohio State on a 59-yard drive, but the half ended on a 10-second runoff when the quarterback was called for intentional grounding.
Jones completed 13-of-19 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns before the break.
Ohio State kept things rolling to open the second half with a 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped by a six-yard scamper by Elliott to extend the lead to 31-6.
Western Michigan responded with a scoring drive of its own as Terrell found Jeremiah Mullinax for a one-yard touchdown to finish off a 12-play, 57-yard drive that took 6:24 off the clock. The Broncos failed on a two-point try after the touchdown, keeping the score at 31-12 with 4:26 to go in the third.
Elliott topped the century mark on the ensuing drive with runs of 20 and 15 yards, but Jones threw an interception in the end zone to return the ball to Western Michigan.
After a pair of Bronco punts with a Buckeye boot in between, Ohio State extended its lead to 38-12 on a 40-yard Samuel run with 8:24 to play.
Penalties killed Western Michigan’s next drive as the Broncos went three-and-out. With the game in hand, Barrett replaced Jones when the Buckeyes’ offense returned to the field with 6:34 to play. The drive ended when Barrett was picked off by Darius Phillips on his third play in the game.
The teams traded punts before Western Michigan allowed the clock to run down.