Nick Bosa said last week that he thought Ohio State could pitch a shutout against Nevada-Las Vegas. Even after the Buckeyes’ 54-21 win on Saturday, the defensive end stood by his assertion, which at its heart was the belief the OSU defense would be stout.
“I just thought we were the superior team,” said Bosa, who had three tackles for loss, including one of OSU’s four sacks. “It obviously showed in the beginning. We let ’em get a couple (touchdowns when the backups played), but I think if we’d kept our (top-level) guys in the whole game it would have been a little different.”
Of course, that would have defeated the benefit of a win that is decided early — the chance to have backups and reserves gain real-game experience. But Bosa indicated the standard for all is the same.
“I think effortwise we played really hard. … We wanted our twos (backups) to play a little better and then the penalties hurt us, too,” he said, referring to three pass interference calls and a holding call against defensive backs. “I think the ones played really well, and the twos have to step it up when they get the chance.”
As Bosa noted, the only time OSU was gashed was when UNLV’s Lexington Thomas scored on a 55-yard burst up the middle in the third quarter.
“There were some good things, but they just need to play soundly and do their job instead of jumping out and trying to make plays,” Bosa said.
Zone 6 for six
On Twitter, Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith often refers to his unit as “Zone 6.” The handle fit well on Saturday as six wide receivers caught touchdown passes in the first half, an avalanche that started with a 69-yard catch-and-sprint by Parris Campbell up the right sideline, the path cleared by receiver Austin Mack’s block.
Derided often in the last year and half for not being productive, the receiving corps stepped up against outmatched UNLV, with tight end Rashod Berry adding a TD catch in the second half.
“It’s huge, definitely, to see all my guys go out there and be able to make plays,” Campbell said. “It’s huge for our confidence, not only as an individual but as a whole.”
Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, Binjimen Victor, Terry McLaurin, K.J. Hill and C.J. Saunders scored the TDs, in order, with Berry adding the seventh. The first five TDs were thrown by J.T. Barrett, the final two by Dwayne Haskins.
The seven-TDs-by-seven-players effort topped the previous Ohio State record by two.
“It’s huge for J.T. to have confidence in us, to know that we can make those plays,” Campbell said. “We’ve got to keep pushing.”
Jones to the rescue
Campbell was a few yards away from another catch-and-score late in the first quarter. But after catching a pass in the middle of the field, he turned toward the end zone and UNLV defender Chauncey Scissum “hit the ball in a perfect spot,” Campbell said, causing a fumble. UNLV recovered at its 1 yard line.
On the next play, however, Dre’Mont Jones tackled running back Lexington Thomas in the end zone for a safety. Jones said it was a group effort.
“It’s an exciting play, especially because I don’t do that solely by myself,” Jones said. “The rest of the defense helps me out along with the training staff, which gets me prepared to be able to make a play like that.”
Haskins on display
Barrett’s day ended for good when Haskins relieved late in the second quarter. The redshirt freshman showed off his strong arm and also revealed his inexperience in his first extended appearance as a Buckeye.
Haskins, who finished 15 of 23 throwing for 228 yards and two touchdowns, started strong by completing 6 of 8 passes, the two misses being drops. But Haskins also threw a pick-six when he said he was surprised by UNLV’s coverage and threw to the inside of the intended receiver instead of the outside.
“It was a bad ball,” Haskins said. “It’s on me. But it’s a learning experience.”
Haskins was 4 for 4 in his debut last week against Army, whetting the appetite of OSU fans.
“Last week was a little weird, getting in for the first time,” Haskins said. “This game it was like, ‘OK, I’m in the flow of the game now.’ I was pretty comfortable.”
Burrow makes cameo
Joe Burrow completed all four of his passes for 37 yards in mop-up duty in his return from a broken hand sustained in training camp. Haskins returned to the field when Ohio State went into victory formation late in the game because the coaching staff did not want Burrow taking direct snaps from center on his hand.
“It was good to get Joe in there, too,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said. “He’s still about 90 percent. He’s such a warrior.”
UNLV coach Tony Sanchez and his players were impressed by the size and scope of Ohio Stadium, but hardly daunted by the scene.
The announced crowd was 106,187, though stifling afternoon heat seemed to sap some of the energy from the stands, and many fans departed as OSU’s margin increased.
“It’s all about approach, it’s all about messaging, and I think we’ve done a good job of that,” Sanchez said. “I don’t think the environment had anything to do with the outcome. I don’t think the noise really affected them.”
UNLV redshirt freshman quarterback Armani Rogers said the Horseshoe wasn’t as boisterous as he figured.
“It was loud, but I expected it to be louder,” Rogers said. “Once you get going in the game, the sound kind of dies out. You don’t really pay attention to the noise.”