Throughout Ohio State’s pregame routine Saturday, coach Urban Meyer seemed like a man trying to make up for lost time.
“I think we were 10-15 minutes early to everything,” receiver Austin Mack said.
The terms of Meyer's suspension related to the Zach Smith saga permitted the coach to be with his Buckeyes the previous two weeks but not on game day. Normally, a game against an overmatched opponent such as Tulane, especially coming off a big win over TCU with Penn State awaiting next week, would be cause for concern about being flat.Join the conversation at Facebook.com/BuckeyeXtra and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
That was not an issue for the Buckeyes, who scored touchdowns on all six of their first-half possessions in a 49-6 rout of the Green Wave in front of 103,336 at Ohio Stadium.
“You could tell all week he was really excited to be back with us,” sophomore cornerback Jeffrey Okudah said. “We were excited to have him back. That’s our leader. When you have him back, there was a lot of energy. He’s always a fired-up dude, but I felt you could really feel his energy.”
Before Meyer led the team onto the field, he hugged tight end Rashod Berry in the tunnel. Meyer also patted several players on the helmet while nearby fans chanted his name.
Afterward, he was even half-jokingly asked about his displays of affection.
“I love these guys,” Meyer said. “It’s one of the great things about being a coach and coaching at Ohio State. You’ve got your family, you’ve got your players, and you’ve got your staff. I didn’t know I was doing that, but I can probably feel that I was.”
Watching games on TV is a different perspective than seeing it live, even for a coach with Meyer’s experience. What stood out, he said, was the accuracy of Dwayne Haskins Jr.’s passing and the skill of Ohio State’s receivers, all made possible by the protection from the offensive line.
Haskins continued his torrid play. The redshirt sophomore completed 21 of 24 passes for 304 yards and five touchdowns while playing only the first half. Haskins has 16 touchdown passes and only one interception this season.
“I just want to show how dangerous the offense is, and with me at the helm, a lot of plays can be made,” he said.
The Buckeyes faced only four third downs in the first half and averaged 9 yards per play. In the second half, backups were used almost exclusively.
The Buckeyes started the scoring when Haskins hit Parris Campbell for a 14-yard touchdown on a crossing route. Campbell finished with eight catches for 147 yards, including a 37-yarder on a beautiful pass for Ohio State’s third touchdown.
“We were challenged,” Meyer said. “There was a lot of single coverage all over the place.”
Ohio State’s running game never really got untracked against a defense that kept a safety shallow, although it was effective in spots. J.K. Dobbins ran 11 times for 55 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter when Tate Martell directed the 59-yard drive.
Defensively, the Buckeyes suffered few ill effects from the absence of defensive end Nick Bosa and tackle Robert Landers. Bosa underwent surgery on Thursday for a core-muscle injury suffered against TCU. Landers’ injury is believed to be much less serious, but with Penn State next, he was held out.
Tulane’s only score came in its third possession, when it went 75 yards in 10 players to make the score 21-6. (Jonathon Cooper blocked the extra-point kick.) In the other six of the Green Wave’s first seven possessions, Ohio State limited Tulane to 49 yards in 24 plays.
Martell had the only score of the second half: a 1-yard keeper with a minute to play. But the highlight for Meyer in the second half, as it often is, was hearing the band play “Hang On Sloopy” for the first time.
“My family is completely ingrained in this community,” Meyer said. “They love this place. I love this university. To walk into that Skull Session and to see Buckeye Nation support myself and this team, I’m very appreciative.”