There is no “i” in team but there is one in overwhelming. A grade card on Ohio State’s 51-10 never-in-doubt win over Indiana on Saturday.
Two years ago, J.K. Dobbins rushed for 181 yards in his first college game in Indiana’s Memorial Stadium. The junior running back had almost that many yards by halftime Saturday when he rolled up 175 yards in the first two quarters on his way to 193 yards on 22 carries.
With Dobbins putting up numbers like that and the high level of play by quarterback Justin Fields, it’s easy to forget sometimes that Ohio State has had to replace four of the five offensive line starters from last season. Dobbins had holes to run through all day and eluded potential tacklers several times when he did face defensive pressure, including six missed tackles by Indiana on a 26-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter.
Dobbins’ back-up, Master Teague, gained 106 yards and had a 40-yard touchdown run.
Fields missed a couple of early passes and Dobbins dropped a sure touchdown catch, which he later made up for by making a much more difficult catch in the end zone. But 14 of 24 for 199 yards for three touchdowns and a rushing touchdown is nothing to complain about.
As Urban Meyer noted on Fox’s halftime show, the only way Indiana was going to move the ball against Ohio State was trick plays, like the touchdown pass by wide receiver Donavan Hale to tight end Peyton Hendershot with just over a minute left in the first half.
Ohio State made Indiana’s running game invisible and its passing game was only slightly more successful. The Hoosiers totaled 35 yards on the ground and averaged 1.3 yards per rushing play. Indiana had not allowed a sack in its first two games, but the Buckeyes recorded five of them. Chase Young had two of the sacks, which gives him five so far this season.
Linebacker Pete Werner, one of the most criticized OSU defensive players last season, continued to be a symbol of the turnaround by the defense this season with five tackles, two of them for losses.
Damon Arnette had a big game with a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown and he stripped the ball away from an Indiana receiver in the end zone in the first half.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-
Chris Olave recreated last year’s Michigan game with a blocked punt that produced a safety early in the second quarter. That blocked kick came just over a minute after he’d caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Fields. OSU led only 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, but scored 23 points in a span of just over 10 minutes in the second quarter and the rout was on. OSU kicker Blake Haubeil missed a 32-yard field goal attempt, his first miss of the season.
Ohio State was ready for its first road game, which was also its Big Ten opener. And Indiana was Indiana again.