COLUMBUS, Ohio — Luke Fickell and the Cincinnati Bearcats came to Columbus on Saturday to give Ryan Day and the No. 5 Buckeyes their first real test of the season, and Ohio State passed with flying colors.
Not only did the Buckeyes win their first game of the season against a high-caliber opponent, they absolutely dominated in their 42-0 shutout victory over the Bearcats.
Ohio State was a 16-point favorite over Cincinnati going into this game and many people were expecting this game to be close to the spread, but Ryan Day had other plans as he made a statement to the rest of college football that the Buckeyes are going to be every bit as dominant this season as they were in the seven seasons under Urban Meyer.
There are plenty of points to take away from Ohio State’s second game and second victory of the season, so let’s dive right into some analysis of the Buckeyes’ Week 2 performance.
Justin Fields Continues To Show His Heisman Merit
Ohio State starting quarterback had an incredible, record-setting performance in Week 1 vs. FAU by tying Dwayne Haskins’ school record for most touchdowns by a first-time starting quarterback with five touchdowns.
You would think it would be hard to top that performance in Week 2, right? Wrong.
Fields followed up his stellar starting debut by accounting for 266 total yards and four total touchdowns, two through the air and two on the ground, against a Cincinnati defense that ranked in the top-15 of total defense in the country last season.
Fields’ yardage and touchdown totals weren’t even his most impressive stats of the day as he completed 20 of his 25 pass attempts against the stout Bearcats defense. His accuracy and decision-making were both perfect today as a few of those five incompletions were smart throw-away decisions and another incompletion was a dropped ball by wide receiver K.J. Hill.
It may still be extremely early in the season, but Justin Fields is showing that he is a serious Heisman contender through the first two weeks of the college football season.
J.K. Dobbins Shows He Is Still An Elite Running Back
J.K. Dobbins has had an up-and-down career path since he enrolled at Ohio State.
After breaking Maurice Clarett’s Ohio State single-season freshman rushing record back in 2017, Dobbins took a massive step back last season as the starting running back barely broke the 1,000-yard rushing mark.
Many were expecting Dobbins to put himself back on the national map this season, but the junior starting running back had an average-at-best performance in Ohio State’s season opener last weekend against Florida Atlantic as he only had 91 yards on 21 carries and also had a fumble in the victory.
Dobbins had a massive bounce-back performance this week, however, as he rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries in the first half of the Buckeyes’ blowout of the Bearcats before retiring to the bench for the entire second half of the game.
Dobbins also ripped off this amazing 60-yard touchdown run for one of his two scores of the game:
There’s still tons of football left to be played this season, but Dobbins definitely took a step in the right direction this week and showed that he is still capable of performing at an elite level.
Ohio State Defense Dominates With Shutout Performance
What more can be said about the Ohio State defense’s performance in words that the Buckeyes didn’t already say with their play on the field on Saturday?
The Buckeye defense showed last week what they were capable of, but this week they showed what they were capable of doing for four quarters.
All three levels of the Buckeye defense were on point on Saturday against Cincinnati.
Chase Young once again showed why he might be the best pass-rusher in the country as he matched his 1.5 sacks from last week to give him three sacks on the season, keeping him on track to break the all-time Ohio State single-season sack record of 14. But, it’s not just his sack total that makes Young such a great defensive end. His ability to read the quarterback and always be going after the football are as good as anyone in college football and they’re only getting better the more experience he gets.
The linebackers have taken a drastic step forward from the past couple of seasons as they are wrapping players up on tackles and going after the football. Malik Harrison contributed on a sack and finished with 2.5 tackles for loss in Saturday’s victory over Cincinnati while Tuf Borland, who has faced much criticism in the past year, picked off a pass when the Bearcats were in Buckeye territory to help preserve the shutout.
Ohio State’s secondary has vastly improved from last season as well as they only gave up five total plays of 20+ yards to Cincinnati, three of those chunk plays coming in the second half when the game was all but over.
Cincinnati may not be one of the elite offenses in the country, but giving up only 273 total yards, 13 first downs and surrendering no points is considered a championship performance no matter who you’re playing.
Ryan Day Sends A Message To The Rest Of College Football
“Today was another step in the journey, and it was the right step,” Ryan Day said following his first shutout victory as Ohio State head coach, and Day couldn’t be more correct.
The Buckeyes were nearly flawless on Saturday in their Week 2 victory over Cincinnati as the Buckeyes didn’t turn the ball over a single time and gave up no points to the Bearcats.
Whether everyone admits it or not, Ryan Day is constantly being compared to Urban Meyer in terms of the caliber of team he puts on the field every Saturday and he has passed his first real on-field test with flying colors.
The last time the Buckeyes faced the Bearcats back in 2014, Ohio State went on to win the national title and that game was a slug-fest for a good portion of it as the Buckeyes only won, 50-28. This year’s Cincinnati team is arguably much better than the one Ohio State faced five years ago, and they just shut them out.
I’m obviously not going to say that Saturday’s win over the Bearcats indicates that the Buckeyes will win the national championship this season, but it is indicative that Ryan Day has this program on the right track to do so.
Be sure to follow Buckeye Beat Report for more news and content on your Ohio State Buckeyes!