COLUMBUS — It didn’t take long to see all the typecasting of Oregon football in particular and the Pac-12 in general was being called into question.
No. 12 Oregon (2-0) handed No. 3 Ohio State (1-1) a 35-28 loss on Saturday at Ohio Stadium in a game that would be mis-labeled if it were called a shocker, but certainly was a jolt for the Buckeyes.
There was nothing soft or weak about the Ducks, which is something they and the rest of the Pac-12 have been accused of at times.
And they weren’t afraid to get their fancy uniforms dirty in Saturday’s match-up with an Ohio State team which, as usual, was considered a national championship contender.
Ohio State never led in the game despite rolling up 612 yards of offense, 484 yards of it coming from the passing game. But it struggled to convert those yards into points. And its defense allowed 505 yards.
“It was a game we were never really in control of. We have to learn from this and grow from this. There is a lot of football left,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.
After a scoreless first quarter, OSU fell behind 7-0 when Oregon marched 99 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter.
The Buckeyes responded with a 27-yard touchdown pass from C.J. Stroud to Garrett Wilson to tie the game at 7-7. But Oregon scored on its next possession and Ohio State never caught up again.
Ohio State got to Oregon’s 31-yard line and its 34-yard line on two drives in the first half but could not get into scoring position.
Stroud (35 of 54 for 484 yards, 3 touchdowns) said, “We came out strong and got the ball moving. But kind of the whole first half every time we got past the 50-yard line we just weren’t getting to the end zone.”
The end zone also proved elusive for the Buckeyes in the fouth quarter.
After a 15-yard touchdown pass from Stroud to Jaxon Smith-Njigba cut Oregon’s lead to 35-28 with 7:55 to play, OSU’s defense stopped the Ducks on back-to-back three and outs, the Buckeyes had two solid chances to put together drives.
But the first drive ended with a punt and Oregon’s defense intercepted a pass to halt the other one.
“They (the defense) got two good stops for them and they didn’t do anything with it,” Day said.
Day pointed to a lack of balance between the passing game and the running game as maybe the biggest problem for OSU’s offense.
In addition to Stroud’s big numbers, three Ohio State receivers had huge games. Chris Olave caught 12 passes for 126 yards, Wilson had 8 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown and Smith-Njigba caught 7 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
But only 128 yards of OSU’s 612 yards total offense game from the running game. Miyan Williams led the way with 77 yards on 14 carries and freshman TreVeyon Henderson had 54 yards on 12 carries and scored a touchdown.
“We want balance and we didn’t have balance on the (stat) sheet,” Day said. “When we don’t have balance we’re out of whack.”
Oregon running back C.J. Verdell had 161 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns rushing and had another as a receiver. The Ducks’ quarterback Anthony Brown was 17 of 35 for 236 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 65 yards on 10 carries.