They don’t have intersquad scrimmages in college football.
But some games serve as one. Thanks, UNLV, for your time, and enjoy your $1.3 million check for showing up.
No. 10 Ohio State’s 54-21 victory over the sacrificial Rebels in front of 106,187 sun-baked fans at Ohio Stadium will be a footnote in this season. But the Buckeyes used UNLV as fodder to 1) work on their passing game and give backups playing time — mission accomplished; and 2) get their pass defense some work — well …
J.T. Barrett threw for five touchdowns in less than two quarters of work as Ohio State took a 37-0 lead. He completed 12 of 17 for 209 yards. Dwayne Haskins took over and was 15 of 23 for 228 yards and two touchdowns.
In all, Ohio State threw for 474 yards, breaking the school record set in 1997 against Penn State. Seven different receivers caught touchdowns, also a school record.
What’s the victory’s true significance? Probably not much except as a confidence-boost. UNLV (1-2) surrendered 43 points in a season-opening loss to Football Championship Subdivision opponent Howard, which was a 45-point underdog.
“Probably the same thoughts as everybody else,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said of the relevance of the offensive performance. “Let's go do it against a team that's equally matched. And that's my challenge every day for myself, for our coaches more importantly, and obviously our players.”
But the pass defense, ranked last nationally in yardage allowed before playing pass-averse Army last week, will provide plenty of material for coaches’ critiques. UNLV’s first touchdown drive was kept alive by a Denzel Ward pass interference penalty on fourth down. Kendall Sheffield committed two pass interference infractions and a holding call for another first down.
“Very concerned,” Meyer said. “Terrible. It's awful.”
The Buckeyes (3-1) were a 40-point favorite and wasted no time asserting themselves. On their second snap, Barrett threw a swing pass to Parris Campbell, who got a block from fellow receiver Austin Mack and outran the Rebels for a 69-yard touchdown.
That was followed by a 65-yard drive in which the final 62 were covered by four Barrett completions, the last a 16-yarder to Johnnie Dixon.
Campbell almost scored again when he caught a pass from Barrett but lost a fumble on the UNLV 1. No problem. Dre’Mont Jones, part of a defensive line that dominated, tackled UNLV running back Lexington Thomas in the end zone for a safety.
Campbell then redeemed himself with an 82-yard return on the ensuing free kick, which set up a fourth-down touchdown pass to Binjimen Victor on the first play of the second quarter. That made it 23-0.
Barrett then added another fourth-down touchdown to Terry McLaurin before ending his day with an 11-yard pass to K.J. Hill. Of Ohio State’s scoring drives directed by Barrett, only the last one lasted longer than 1 minute, 47 seconds.
Barrett said the Buckeyes’ repeated success with the quick-tempo offense was the biggest sign of progress on the day.
“We had good tempo at some times before, but we’re still addressing that and pushing that because that’s a weapon for us to use,” he said.
Haskins, joined soon after by other Buckeyes reserves, entered the game late in the second quarter. The high points were touchdown passes to walk-on C.J. Saunders and tight end Rashod Berry. The low was a Haskins interception returned 65 yards by Javin White for a touchdown for the game’s final points with 13 minutes left.
Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins ran for 95 yards on 14 carries while playing only in the first half.
“I think it’s always good (to) execute and do what you do,” Barrett said. “It doesn’t matter who the opponent is. You go away feeling good.
“I think it was really good for our young guys to get in some work as well. Those guys, if they played well, got some confidence. If they didn’t play so hot, they’ll be able to watch on film and learn from it.”
Now, the Buckeyes play Big Ten teams the rest of the way, starting this week at Rutgers.
“I think we’re good to go,” defensive end Nick Bosa said. “I think our offense is clicking, and our defense has been pretty good all year.”