Football Three takeaways from Ohio States 3631 win over Nebraska

The Buckeyes sing “Carmen Ohio” following the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Nov 3. Ohio State won 36-31. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorNo. 10 Ohio State returned to the win column Saturday, defeating Nebraska 36-31 in Ohio Stadium. Even with some questions seemingly answered, including the success of the running game, the Buckeyes still have needed areas of improvement heading into a two-game road stretch, first against Michigan State. Here are three takeaways from Saturday afternoon’s game. Passing game remains integralOhio State’s game plan against Nebraska was to win, sure, but it seemed as though, as soon as the Buckeyes offense stepped onto the field, it had one goal: to fix the run game. So redshirt junior running back Mike Weber and sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins took a page out of what Dobbins called the “old Buckeye football” playbook, combining for 254 yards on 32 carries with three touchdowns. While the two backs found success, redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins put up uncomparable numbers to what he has done over the past three weeks. Completing 18 of 32 pass attempts, his lowest completion percentage of the season, he threw for 252 yards, his lowest total since Sept. 8, where he played only a half against Rutgers. He also threw two touchdowns and his sixth interception of the season. However, the Ohio State offense saw glimpses of the Haskins of old, finding redshirt senior wide receiver Johnnie Dixon on a crossing route in the middle of the field who ran in 42 yards, with the help of good blocking on the outside, for the first touchdown of the day. Haskins said after the game he overthrew some passes, specifically one deep ball, trying to hit a receiver who was one-on-one on a post route in the middle of the field. The Ohio State offense may have changed a bit during the win over the Cornhuskers, but Haskins still showed his importance to what the Buckeye offense does. Rush defense improves After allowing Purdue senior running back D.J. Knox to average eight yards per carry in the Boilermakers’ 49-20 win over Ohio State on Oct. 20, the Buckeyes had to face an offense with a running game very similar to what the team ran under J.T. Barrett. While trying to defend senior running back Devine Ozigbo, Ohio State also had to be cognisant of a dual-threat quarterback: freshman Adrian Martinez. The Buckeyes allowed 158 yards on the ground between Ozigbo and Martinez, with the quarterback scoring two 2-yard touchdown runs and the running back recording one 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. However, Ohio State dealt with what they had to defend, limiting Ozigbo to 4.3 yards per carry after the same back had averaged double-digit yards per carry against Minnesota and Bethune-Cookman. The Buckeyes also forced Martinez to run more than he ever had in a collegiate game, recording a career-high 20 runs, averaging 3.6 yards per rush, lower than his 4.7 yards per carry season average. Nebraska hurt Ohio State in the ground game, but Ohio State, with what it was given, kept it at bay. Depleted secondary depth a major storylineOhio State came in with a bottom third pass defense in the NCAA. The losses suffered prior and in the Nebraska game did not help much. Sophomore Jeffrey Okudah did not play in the game due to a groin injury while sophomore safety Isaiah Pryor missed Saturday’s game with a shoulder impingement, entering the field without pads on. Head coach Urban Meyer said that both Okudah and Pryor should be good to go against Michigan State on Saturday. The Buckeyes also lost junior safety and captain Jordan Fuller after he was ejected for targeting in the second quarter. Ohio State saw some life, especially at the safety position as sophomore Brendon White had a career day, recording 13 tackles and two tackles for loss. However, the Cornhuskers still knew how to attack the pass defense, with Martinez completing a 46-yard pass to senior wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. The other half of the pass defense, the pass rush, struggled as well. After a sack from redshirt junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones in the first quarter, Ohio State could not get to Martinez in the backfield, completing 22 of 33 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown.