Ohio State Game Grades vs. Oklahoma

Spencer Holbrook@spencerholbrookFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2016

Ohio State Game Grades vs. Oklahoma

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    Buckeye players celebrate with fans after beating Oklahoma
    Buckeye players celebrate with fans after beating OklahomaSue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Overview

    The Buckeyes went on the road to Oklahoma and did what many people did not think was possible: dominated. In the 45-24 win, the Ohio State offensive attack of J.T. Barrett, Curtis Samuel, Mike Weber and Noah Brown put on a clinic while the defense proved it is one of the best units in the country by shutting down Baker Mayfield and company.

    Here’s how I graded the performance in the biggest game of the year so far for the Buckeyes:



Rushing Offense: A

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    As cliche as it may sound, Mike Weber was thunder. Curtis Samuel was the lightning. Weber finished the night with 18 carries for 123 yards and Samuel had 98 yards and a score on a critical 4th-and-1 in the first half. The duo, along with J.T. Barrett, dominated on the ground with a total of 291 yards and the touchdown. Weber set the tone early with 45 yards on his first two carries.

    The offensive line didn’t seem to be bothered by the hostile environment and kept holes open and outside lanes set for Weber and Samuel, controlling the line of scrimmage.



Passing Offense: A+

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    J.T. Barrett looked like the 2014 version of him Buckeye fans grew to love. He was comfortable in the pocket and found his open receivers. Each week, Barrett seems to favor one certain receiver or matchup. This week, Barrett and sophomore Noah Brown hooked up for four (not a typo) touchdown passes, including a one-handed bearhug catch by Brown that has already been called by many to be the “play of the year.”

    The offensive line kept Barrett upright and his jersey clean. He was pressured only a few times and was able to stand in the pocket and survey the field, making it easier to find his man.

     

Rushing Defense: A-

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    The battle between the tackles was definitely won by the Buckeyes. Ohio State’s front seven held Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon and the Sooners’ rushing attack to 177 yards on the ground. The Buckeyes kept Baker Mayfield in check with scrambles and helped keep Oklahoma behind the chains, forcing the Sooners into third-and-long situations. DreMont Jones seemed to be in on every running play between the tackles, proving Ohio State’s depth up front defensively.

     

Pass Defense: A

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    Joshua Gateley/Getty Images

    This secondary is fun to watch, isn’t it? Holding Heisman hopeful Baker Mayfield to 226 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions is pretty good for a young back end. Gareon Conley had two huge pass breakups in the first half, before he got injured and left the game, that kept Oklahoma out of the end zone. Marshon Lattimore had an interception and also had a second one overturned late once the game was already decided. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention Jerome Baker’s pick-six to make it a 14-0 game and take the life out of Memorial Stadium early. The interception returned for a touchdown was huge for the momentum and the tempo of the game.

    Sam Hubbard, Nick Bosa, Jalyn Holmes and Tyquan Lewis seemed to live in Oklahoma’s backfield and never let Baker Mayfield get comfortable behind his offensive line. Mayfield was sacked twice on fourth-down plays in the second half, both coming when it seemed like maybe the Sooners had some life left in them. The front seven dominated, making the back end’s job much more bearable.

     

Special Teams: B

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    Joshua Gateley/Getty Images

    Ohio State’s kick coverage had a miscue in the first half where it gave up a 97-yard kickoff return to Joe Mixon for a touchdown. Other than the one hiccup, the special teams played extremely well. Tyler Durbin knocked in a field goal from 31 yards and was 6-for-6 on extra points.

    There could be an argument for naming Cam Johnston one of the players of the game. When a team scores 45 points, it’s overlooked, but Johnston helped the Buckeyes win the field position battle early with a 68-yard punt that completely flipped field position. Overall, he had five punts and averaged 50.6 yards per punt.

     

Conclusion

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    The Buckeyes' performance was dominant. Every aspect of the game was controlled by Ohio State from the opening quarter to the final whistle. The game never had the feel that it could go back Oklahoma’s way once the Buckeyes got up 21-7. Ohio State will have a bye week before it opens its Big Ten slate with a home game against Rutgers on October 1.

    Let me know in the comment section below how you thought the Buckeyes looked!