Ohio State gets past Nebraska

Buckeyes remain unbeaten in Big Ten

By Jim Naveau - jnaveau@limanews.com

LINCOLN, Neb. — After the last two weeks Ohio State might be ready for an opponent that hasn’t been disappointed with how its season has unfolded.

A week ago, OSU held on for a 33-24 win over Penn State. On Saturday, it followed that up with a 26-17 win over Nebraska that was a one-score game late in the fourth quarter.

The win made No. 5 Ohio State 8-1 overall and 6-0 in the Big Ten. Nebraska dropped to 3-7 overall and 1-6 in the Big Ten in a season in which the Cornhuskers have not lost a game by double figures and have lost to four teams ranked in the Top Ten last week.

All last week OSU coach Ryan Day preached that Nebraska was a better team than its record showed. He was still saying the same thing after Saturday’s game.

“This is a good team, they’ve got a good defense,” he said about Nebraska. “We said that coming in.”

Ohio State had 495 yards of total offense against Nebraska after having 466 yards against Penn State last week.

But touchdowns have been difficult to get the last two weeks. OSU has had more field goals (8) than offensive touchdowns (4) in its last two games.

Day mostly emphasized the positive after beating Nebraska.

“I’m proud of our defense, proud of our special teams. When you play nine conference games and one of your other games is Oregon you have to bring it every week,” he said. “We’ve got a young team and we have to learn that it’s every week you show up. The defense did that today. It’s hard to win in this conference, it’s hard to win on the road.”

C.J. Stroud completed 36 of 54 passes for 405 yards for two touchdowns and was intercepted twice. TreVeyon Henderson gained 92 yards on 21 carries. Jaxon Smith-Njigba had 15 catches for 240 yards and a touchdown.

Stroud’s assessment of the game was similar to Day’s. “It’s not always going to be pretty,” he said.

Ohio State and Nebraska were scoreless in the first quarter. On their first possession, the Buckeyes went for a first down on fourth down and 1-yard to go at Nebraska’s 43-yard line but Stroud’s pass to Jeremy Ruckert went off the OSU tight end’s hands.

Nebraska marched to Ohio State’s 27-yard line after that stop but a 45-yard field goal attempt by Chase Contreraz missed.

OSU put together a good drive on its next possession after the missed field goal but Nebraska’s JoJo Domann’s interception at the Cornhuskers’ 9-yard line left the Buckeyes without points for a second straight possession.

A 26-yard field goal by Noah Ruggles early in the second quarter gave Ohio State a 3-0 lead. That advantage grew to 10-0 when, after a 13-yard punt by Nebraska’s William Przystup, Stroud connected with Olave on a 3-yard touchdown pass.

Contreraz hit a 39-yard field goal to make it 10-3. When Smith-Njigba turned a short pass into a 75-yard touchdown pass Ohio State looked ready to take control with a 17-3 lead with 3:34 left in the first


But two plays later, Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez found a weak spot in OSU’s coverage and delivered a 72-yard touchdown pass to Samori Toure to cut the lead to 17-10.

All of Ohio State’s points in the second half came on field goals by Ruggles, including a pair of 46-yard kicks, which were his longest efforts this season.

Ruggles, who transferred to OSU from North Carolina last summer, is 15 of 15 on field goals this season and has hit four field goals in the Buckeyes’ last two games. He is the first Ohio State kicker to get four field goals in back-to-back games.

“The first seven games I had seven field goals and in the last two games I’ve had more than the rest of the season,” Ruggles said. “Every kick is the same to me, even in those pressure situations. I try to make it seem like any other kick.”

Asked about whether 85,000 fans screaming at him as he goes about his job bothers him, he said, “I don’t pay that no mind.”

Day said, “When you kick four field goals and you win by nine it’s obviously huge. He has become a weapon for us and that’s huge. It’s a good feeling when you have a guy you feel strongly about.”

Buckeyes remain unbeaten in Big Ten

By Jim Naveau