NORMAN, Okla. – The storm after the storm was quite impressive, too.
No. 3 Ohio State rolled to a 45-24 win over No. 14 Oklahoma on Saturday night in a match-up of traditional college football powers that most people expected to be much closer.
The game’s kick-off was delayed for 90 minutes by a storm that brought ominous clouds, lightning, strong winds and heavy rain.
Ohio State (3-0) led from wire to wire and appeared to a statement that it can be a player in the national championship race even with an inexperienced team that has only six returning starters.
For Oklahoma (1-2) it was almost certainly the end of its hopes of getting into the College Football Playoff after losses to Houston and the Buckeyes in their first three games.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett completed 14 of 20 passes for 152 yards and four touchdowns to lead an OSU offense that rolled up 443 yards of offense. Mike Weber rushed for 123 yards on 18 carries and Curtis Samuel ran for 98 yards on 11 carries.
But the offensive standout was receiver Noah Brown, who caught four touchdown passes and showed what Ohio State missed a year ago when a broken leg kept him out for the entire season.
Brown’s scores came on catches of 37 yards, 21 yards and 4 yards in the first half and an 8-yarder on Ohio State’s first series of the second half.
“We controlled the line of scrimmage and when you do that you have a good chance of winning the game,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “This is the coming of age game. As of today, they (Ohio State’s young players) are no longer inexperienced. They’ve gone to Oklahoma and won. It’s probably one of the top five toughest places to play.”
Meyer also saluted his six returning starters. “The maturity of my old guys is outstanding. There are really good leaders on our team right now,” he said.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said, “We just need to play better in a lot of areas. I thought we got beat in all phases of the game.”
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, whose back-up quarterback Austin Kendall said would light up Ohio State’s defense, achieved ignition only sporadically. He completed 17 of 36 passes for 226 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Ohio State scored on four of its six first-half possessions and got a defensive when linebacker Jerome Baker returned a tipped pass for a 68-yard touchdown pass.
OSU’s first touchdown came on a 36-yard run by Samuel with 7:28 left in the first quarter to put the Buckeyes up 7-0. The lead grew to 14-0 on Baker’s interception three minutes later. It was the fourth defensive score in three game for Ohio State.
Oklahoma cut the lead to 14-7 on a 97-yard kickoff return by Joe Mixon after that TD. But Ohio State answered with an 11-play, 89-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Barrett to Brown for a 21-7 lead.
It was one of three touchdown throws to Brown in the first half, including a spectacular grab in the final minute of the first half.
Oklahoma cut the lead to 21-10 on a 26-yard field goal by Austin Seibert, who had missed a 27-yarder on the Sooners’ first possession of the game.
Ohio State came back with another 37-yard touchdown connection between Barrett and Brown that produced a 28-10 OSU lead with 6:02 left in the first half.
Oklahoma made it a 28-17 game on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield to A.D. Miller four minutes before halftime. It was the first touchdown scored by an opposing offense against OSU this season.
But Ohio State drove 75 yards on 10 plays without a timeout to go up 35-17 six seconds before halftime on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Barrett to Brown, who reached both hands around a defensive back to secure the ball and get down in bounds.
Ohio State had 278 yards total offense in the first half and Oklahoma had 258. Barrett was 10 of 14 for 120 yards. Mayfield was 9 of 17 for 158 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice – once by Baker and once by Marshon Lattimore.
OSU went up 42-17 on its first possession of the second half on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Barrett to Brown and added a 31-yard field goal by Tyler Durbin.