Lane Kiffin took some solace from the fact that his Florida Atlantic Owls outscored Ohio State in the final three quarters Saturday.
But a 28-0 hole barely eight minutes into the game doomed any hopes FAU had of pulling an upset over the Buckeyes, who were four-touchdown favorites.Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our BuckeyeXtra newsletter
“Two different games,” Kiffin said. “Obviously, we started off really poor. To start 28-0 in half of a quarter is as bad as you can in all phases of the game. Then we played a lot better after that — 21-17 we outscored them.”
FAU looked completely overmatched at the start. The Owls didn’t touch Justin Fields on his 51-yard touchdown run to open the scoring and blew coverages on the next two scores.
“It starts with missed tackles,” Kiffin said. “The quarterback pulls the ball and makes a long run early and then the speed of their receivers — you probably can’t duplicate that in practice — and it showed up early.”
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Offensively, the Owls went backward more than forward in the first 30 minutes. At halftime, they had minus-14 yards.
Adding to their woes was a broken foot suffered by running back BJ Emmons, prompting FAU to use true freshman Larry McCammon, who in the fourth quarter scored the Owls’ first touchdown.
Kiffin took into account that FAU’s scoring came mostly when Buckeyes starters were off the field. He singled out defensive end Chase Young, who had five tackles, including 1½ sacks.
“I didn’t really want to tell our players that, but that had a lot to do with it,” Kiffin said. “They took him out for a little bit. He’s a great player and changes your whole game plan like a Myles Garrett does.”
Still, Kiffin bemoaned the tough start that precluded any chance of an upset.
“They’re a very talented team,” he said. “If you play a top-five team like that, you have to do everything right just to have a chance.
“It’s unfortunate because as the game is going, I’m going, man, if we would have done A, B, C and D early, we’d be here in the fourth quarter of a very interesting game and putting the pressure on them. Obviously, we didn’t do that with a 28-0 start.”