Credit: (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Ohio State started out Saturday's game with a serious letdown, as Arkansas State showed some impressive plays against the Buckeyes. They forced multiple punts and caught the defense lacking down the field early in the game. The Buckeyes made the proper changeups in the second half, but they will be heavily scrutinized by their first half performance. They would go on to win 45-12 over the Red Wolves and are now 2-0 on the young season.
C.J. Stroud, Emeka Egbuka, and Marvin Harrison looked amazing working together again this week, as the two wideouts combined for over 300 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Julian Fleming did not play again this week, but once they return, this offense should be back into peak form. TreVeyon Henderson got behind his pads and earned some big runs, collecting two touchdowns on 87 yards rushing. In total, the offense put up over 500 yards with their starters and 45 points.
Jim Knowles said the defense was about 78% in place this week, and they brought a bunch of blitzes and applied pressure to Justin Blackman all afternoon. However, the defense made a lot of aggressive mistakes, getting caught on encroachment more than four times. Double digit penalties on the day gave Arkansas State a lot of momentum and took them out of second and third and longs. Champ Flemings torched Ohio State's defensive backs and safeties, going for 10 receptions and 100 yards. Once again, Ohio State was unable to force a turnover this week. However, they allowed a third down conversion rate of under 25% and allowed just under four yards per play.
Special teams looked solid for OSU as a jumping over the punt shield penalty took away an Emeka Egbuka punt return touchdown. Jesse Mirco was called on to punt a handful of times and averaged over 40 yards per punt. He had one downed on the three-yard line by Josh Proctor. Noah Ruggles was called on just once and drilled a field goal from 24-yards out. He was 6/6 on extra points.
Player of the Game:
WR #18 Marvin Harrison Jr. - seven receptions, 184 yards, 3 touchdowns, 26.3 average per reception
This was just the third time in Buckeye history a player had three receiving touchdowns. The other two came from Joey Galloway in the 90s, and Marvin Harrison Jr. in last years Rose Bowl.
First Quarter: OSU 14-3
Ohio State's defense was the first group we saw on the field Saturday, and they showed great run defense early on and applied pressure off a four man pass rush in the game, forcing a quick three-and-out to start. On the Buckeyes first drive, they went to TreVeyon Henderson early, and he rewarded them with a 41-yard run. C.J. Stroud showed excellent pocket presence, converting on a third down while scrambling away from pressure and finding Xavier Johnson on an unplanned comeback route. The offensive line once again had some problems in this game, as on the first drive, a decent Red Wolves defensive line was able to get penetration on multiple plays. The first drive would end in a Marvin Harrison Jr. touchdown reception of 42-yards.
The Buckeyes did a great job applying pressure with their pass rush. Emeka Egbuka showcased his explosiveness in the punt game, taking a punt back for a TD, though it was called back via penality, but if this stood, it would have been the first punt return touchdown for Ohio State since Jalin Marshall vs Indiana in 2014. Penalties became an issue early, and the young defense was tested on their composure. These penalties led to an Arkansas State field goal, and the drive made this new defense look slightly less impressive than initially thought.
C.J. Stroud really found a rhythm with his wide receivers, and the ground game looked even better than they did against Notre Dame. The defense had really good tackling in the first quarter, as they were wrapping up on every play. As they moved closer to the second quarter, the defensive backs began playing much better than earlier in the game.
Ohio State late in the first quarter had a long drive led by Stroud through the air, and they would make it down to the redzone before a controversial play ended the first quarter on a third down incompletion to Marvin Harrison. This play was not reviewed even though the call on the field was clearly wrong, as it was a fumble at the very least and potentially a touchdown.
Second Quarter: OSU 24-9
Ohio State found themselves with a fourth down in the redzone to start the quarter, and Noah Ruggles put it through the uprights to give the Buckeyes points to start the quarter. Arkansas State showcased those explosive weapons which led them to put up 50-plus points a week ago against Grambling State, and for the second time in the game, the Red Wolves were in the Buckeyes redzone. The Buckeyes defense stiffened up again in the redzone and forced yet another field goal, but this defense once again got off to a slow start despite some good plays.
Arkansas State started making quick plays to counter the overly aggressive Ohio State defense and found some really big plays against the defense. The Buckeyes began struggling to wrap up on tackles, and Arkansas State started putting together some solid drives in the second quarter. Arkansas State once again drove into the Buckeyes redzone, and once more, the defense stiffened up and forced a field goal and brought the Red Wolves to a one score ballgame.
Miyan Williams showed off a very impressive power run, breaking off a handful of arm tackles and setup a touchdown reception to Marvin Harrison Jr., who went 42 yards off the pass from C.J. Stroud. This was the first time we've seen the huge receiving plays from last year, which went over the top of defenses and led to a lot of Buckeye victories.
Ohio State was getting burned on quick underneath routes in this quarter, as the defense started playing very soft coverage after getting beat downfield earlier. They were lined up about 13-yards off the line of scrimmage. Ohio State's defense came up big on a third down. Arkansas State went for it on fourth down with under a minute to go, and Mike Hall Jr, came up with a huge sack to force the turnover on downs.
The Buckeyes went on one final drive in the half, but it ended up going nowhere as a reviewed catch downfield got brought back, and they ended up punting the ball once again with 30 seconds. Mirco's punt was downed on the one-yard line by Josh Proctor. Arkansas State had one play, and they hit the half.
Ohio State outscored Arkansas State in the second quarter 10-6.
3rd Quarter: OSU 45-12
Ohio State started the second half with the ball, and the first play from scrimmage was a 44-yard pass to Emeka Egbuka to flip the field. The Buckeyes would follow up with a powerful Henderson run for 8-yards. Henderson wasn't done as he ran in for his second rushing touchdown of the game on a 23-yard TD run.
The Buckeyes defense began the third quarter playing much better, as they forced a run and a pass to go for negative yards on Arkansas State's first drive. Then, Steele Chambers broke into the backfield untouched to get a sack on third down.
On the next drive, C.J. Stroud went out on the second play of the drive and delivered a 51-yard touch pass to Emeka Egbuka streaking up the center of the field for a touchdown. Ohio State's play calling has reverted to what we saw last year with lots of deep shots mixed in with a few short throws, which ends up forcing the safeties closer to the line to gain and opens up those deep balls.
Ohio State brought a lot of blitzes and never connected with a sack but put enough pressure on Justin Blackman to force a long field goal attempt ,which was successful from 45-yards out by Dominic Zvada. This was Zvada's fourth field goal of the game, as Ohio State was allowing Arkansas State to drive past the 50 but maintained a bend but don't break mentality in the third.
C.J. Stroud found Marvin Harrison Jr. for his seventh reception and third touchdown on a 30-yard pass. The pass was setup by a long drive at the end of the third quarter as Miyan Williams, TreVeyon Henderson and Emeka Egbuka combined to run all over the defense. The largest play of the drive was a 27-yard run from Egbuka.
Ohio State outscored Arkansas State 21-3 in the third quarter.
4th Quarter: OSU 45-12
Ohio State came out with a big lead in the fourth quarter and let off the gas. Stroud recovered a fumble off a bad snap, but they were never able to recover going three-and-out and punted the football.
With eight minutes to go, Ohio State and Arkansas State substituted in their second string players. The Buckeye second units played fine, but no major plays or scores by the offense. Defense forced a three-and-out, but the punt bounced off a Buckeye blocker and was recovered for a first down by Arkansas State for their first turnover of the season. Arkansas State off the fumble would drive the ball once again down the field and made their way down into the red zone. The clock ran out before they were able to score.
9/17- vs Toledo- 7 p.m.
9/24- vs #19 Wisconsin- TBD
10/1- vs Rutgers 3:30 p.m.
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