Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said during the week there would be opportunities to hit some pass plays against the Nevada-Las Vegas defense, then J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes did just that. Barrett threw five touchdown passes before he took a seat for good late in the second quarter, giving way to Dwayne Haskins, who threw two more — the seven were to different receivers, a school record. Another school record: 474 combined passing yards by Barrett (205), Haskins (228) and Joe Burrow (37), topping the previous mark of 459 at Penn State in 1997.
Barrett was 12 of 17 for those 205 yards and five TD passes in his brief appearance. Parris Campbell caught three passes for 105 yards, and 69 of those came on his catch-and-run for OSU's first touchdown. Defensive end Nick Bosa didn’t get the shutout he forecast, but he stirred the defensive effort through his half of play, and had a sack plus two other tackles for loss. Dre’Mont Jones recorded his first safety with a tackle in the first quarter.
The No. 1 defensive line rotation applied pressure most of the time against ULNV starter Armani Rogers, led by Bosa, Jones and Tyquan Lewis. Blitzing linebacker Jerome Baker spiced up that pressure with several timely moves into the backfield. Kickoff man Blake Haubeil had one misfire, but otherwise usually delivered on his several opportunities to pin the Rebels deep, with Justin Hilliard and others sweeping in on coverage.
Barrett and his flock were intent on cutting up the UNLV defense from the inside out, with underneath pass routes, throws to the edge and a rare deep throw or two. Campbell, K.J. Hill and Terry McLaurin were the workhorses for that approach as the Rebels zeroed in on stopping the run. Freshman J.K. Dobbins, for example, sat down with 95 yards on 14 carries, still a 6.8 average but not the kind of day some might have expected.
UNLV’s best chance to move the ball, at least when the game was somewhat in the balance, was letting it fly deep against the OSU man coverage and for two reasons: The catch might be made or interference might be called. Cornerback Kendall Sheffied was ticketed twice for interference and once for holding, while Denzel Ward picked up one interference.
Stat that matters
5: Number of TDs Ohio State scored in the first 21 minutes, making it a lopsided game from the jump.
Defensive tackle Malik Barrow went down with an apparent right knee injury midway through the third quarter. He limped off on his own. DT Jashon Cornell also needed attention on the field to his right leg in the fourth quarter but appeared to be OK later.
By the numbers
112: Barrett’s Big Ten record number of TDs after adding five.
2: Would-be TD passes Ohio State receivers (Campbell, Rashod Berry) had ripped from their arms at the 1-yard line by UNLV.
The Ohio State passing game came to play. But it won’t be known for a while whether success against a target-rich defense such as UNLV will translate into a better attack against a much, much better defense as, say, Penn State in a few weeks.