COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A mostly empty Horseshoe. 4,770 cardboard fan cutouts. Fake crowd noise. Ohio State’s first game of 2020 was far from normal but one thing remained the same — the Buckeyes won a season opener.
No. 5 Ohio State kicked off its unprecedented season by handling Nebraska 52-17 Saturday afternoon to win its 21st straight opening game. The Buckeyes have not lost a home opener since 1978.
Heisman favorite Justin Fields got off to the best start of his college career completing 11 straight passes for 176 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown strike to sophomore Garrett Wilson.
Wilson, who played in 13 of Ohio State’s 14 games last year, had a record-breaking day of his own with a career-high seven catches for a career-high 129 yards.
Fields ended the day with 276 yards on 20-for-21 passing, led the team in rushing with 54 yards rushing, including a 17-yard touchdown to give OSU a 31-14 lead.
Ohio State’s rushing attack performed below expectations with no running back gaining more than 55 yards, but Master Teague still accounted for two touchdowns.
Speaking of touchdowns, true freshman Jaxon Smith-Njigba had what might go down as the catch of the year somehow taping his right foot down in the endzone with his momentum taking him out of bounds.
OSU’s defense got off to a shaky start allowing Nebraska to march down the field on a four-play, 75-yard drive that took less than two minutes.
The Cornhuskers scored again midway through the second quarter, but the Buckeyes’ defense settled in the rest of the game only allowing three points in the second half.
The Buckeyes’ defense actually scored more than Nebraska’s offense in the second half with OSU only allowing three points while scoring a 55-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery by Sevyn Banks. The fumble was forced by senior Jonathon Cooper.
Another great moment for Ohio State’s defense came when senior Haskell Garrett, who was shot in the face less than two months ago, recorded the first sack of the season for the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes have one week to prepare for what might be their biggest game of the season when they face No. 8 Penn State at State College on Halloween at 7:30 p.m.