COLUMBUS — Other than Nebraska coach Scott Frost, Ohio State football coach Ryan Day didn’t think anyone should expect an apology after OSU’s 52-17 win over the Cornhuskers in its season opener on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Maybe it wasn’t perfect. But it was a first game and it looked pretty good to the Buckeyes’ coach.
Especially when it was the first game of a season that Day and OSU’s players thought might never happen.
They felt fortunate just to be playing football again.
“That was the first thing I was thinking when I woke up this morning — that I can’t believe that a couple of months ago it really seemed like this wasn’t going to happen,” said All-American offensive guard Wyatt Davis.
When Nebraska took a 7-0 lead four plays into the game and the two teams were tied 14-14 in the middle of the second quarter, it looked like the blowout that almost everyone predicted might not happen.
But OSU outscored the Cornhuskers 38-3 over the last two and a half quarters and looked like a team which could challenge for a spot in the playoffs if it gets some things fixed by next Saturday’s game at Penn State.
The clincher for Ohio State might have an 8-play, 75-yard drive to start the second half that put the Buckeyes in front 31-14.
Fields, who ended the drive with a 17-yard touchdown run, thought it was a game changer. “That’s where the momentum started,” he said.
Fields was one incompletion short of perfection in the passing game, hitting 20 of 21 throws for 276 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 54 yards and a touchdown.
His targets might not be quite as diverse as last season just yet, but the big two of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson showed again they are elite receivers. Wilson had 7 catches for 129 yards and a touchdown and Olave caught 6 passes for 104 yards before leaving the game after a big hit late in the third quarter.
Trey Sermon and Master Teague shared the running back position almost evenly, with Sermon rushing for 55 yards on 11 carries and Teague picking up 41 yards on 12 carries and scoring two touchdowns.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day said, “Overall, it was a good game and I was really proud of the way we played.
“The No. 1 goal is to go 1-0. The expectations are high but the reality of it is just to go 1-0 is a great day. I’m very proud of what we did today. If someone had said, ‘You can hold them to 17 points today I would have signed on the bottom line,” he said.
Maybe his biggest regret is that Ohio State put a final touchdown on the scoreboard in the final 2:53 of the game with freshman quarterback Jack Miller running the ball into the end zone from two yards out with 18 seconds to play.
“I’m going to text Scott (Nebraska coach Scott Frost). If I could do it again I would have taken a knee. I probably should have done that and I want to publicly apologize to Scott,” he said.
Fields said, “We didn’t come into the game with expectations. We just wanted to play hard and play our game. Our main goal was just a win.”