The Ohio State football team looked like world-beaters for the first half of the first quarter and then like a team playing its opener for the rest of its 45-21 victory against Florida Atlantic.

OSU coach Ryan Day knows his team needs to be better this Saturday against Cincinnati.

“Significantly,” Day said Monday during his weekly news conference. “We have to play for a full 60 minutes. Those first 6-7 minutes or whatever that was, were just completely dominant, but the rest of it was just OK.”

Ohio State took a 28-0 lead before not scoring again for more than 30 minutes. Cincinnati, coached by former OSU player and coach Luke Fickell, is coming off an 11-win season and defeated UCLA in its opener.

“We’ve got our hands full,” Day said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for coach Fickell and what he’s built there. We know they’re going to come in hungry.”

Ohio State hasn’t lost to an in-state school since 1921, the year before Ohio Stadium opened. But UC, which opened as a 16½-point underdog, has a realistic shot.

Day had mostly praise for his team’s performance against Florida Atlantic, including first-time starting quarterback Justin Fields. The sophomore transfer from Georgia was named the team’s offensive player of the game. He completed 18 of 25 passes for four touchdowns and ran for a 51-yard score.

Day said he was most impressed by Fields’ lack of major mistakes. The coach said his favorite play of his was a third-down incompletion in which Fields threw the ball away rather than risk a turnover.

Day also was happy with the revamped offensive line. Left tackle Thayer Munford is the only lineman who started for the Buckeyes in 2018.

“After watching the film, I was more pleased with how the offensive line blocked than I (was) coming off the field,” Day said.

Ohio State’s defense was dominating early before FAU had some success moving the ball in the second half. Overall, Day was encouraged by that unit, which struggled throughout the 2018 season.

“I do think that we saw some guys flying around,” Day said. “You saw some hard tackling early on and guys running to the ball with great effort. And that’s what we want.”

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

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