NFL Draft News & Analysis

Nebraska-OSU grades: Buckeyes dominant in mismatched battle

Nebraska 3, Ohio State 62

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Ohio State’s victory over Nebraska.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Quarterback grade: J.T. Barrett, 79.1

Matchup problem

J.T. Barrett is a tough player to match up with for a defense. He has the ability to break the pocket at any time and make positive yardage with his legs, or pull up and deliver a pass that has broken down with the pocket movement. Barrett completed 73.3 percent of his passes when he wasn’t pressured, which was most of the game, and though he didn’t scramble much (just three times for 13 yards), he did force multiple missed tackles in the backfield on passing plays and turned them into positive gains for the offense.

Top offensive grades:

WR Curtis Samuel, 81.5
T Jamarco Jones, 79.3
QB J.T. Barrett, 79.1
G Billy Price, 78.1
C Pat Elfein, 77.9

Little room for complaint on offense

This game largely looked like an early-season encounter between a football powerhouse and an FCS school, with Ohio State just looking better across the board. Whether on the ground or through the air the Buckeyes were able to pretty much have their way with the Cornhuskers and rack up yards and points. Curtis Samuel was the player through whom most of the success was funnelled. He rushed the ball five times for 41 yards but also had eight catches from 10 targets for 137 yards and two scores — 47 of which came after the catch as he ran away from would-be tacklers.

Top defensive grades:

LB Joe Burger, 84.8
LB Raekwon McMillan, 83.8
LB Jerome Baker, 82.0
S Malik Hooker, 79.4
CB Denzel Ward, 79.3

Turnovers only enhanced a dominant performance

Nebraska managed just three points, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to assume that this was a pretty accomplished performance from the Ohio State defense. The Cornhuskers were held to 78 rushing yards and 126 passing yards, which came at the cost of two interceptions, albeit coming on some strange deflected plays. Denzel Ward was the most targeted defender on this side of the ball in the game, but the seven passes thrown into his coverage yielded just two catches for 30 yards, while he broke up two of the incompletions. No Ohio State defender allowed more than two passes thrown his way to be caught, and whether Nebraska had kept their starting QB healthy all game or not, it was likely the offense was going to have little joy.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Quarterback Grade: Tommy Armstrong Jr., 62.7, Ryker Fyfe, 49.0

Backup play ended all hope

This game was only ever heading one way, and when QB Tommy Armstrong Jr. was injured as he was hit out of bounds — the game was already 24-3 in Ohio State’s favor — any hope Nebraska had of making it at least competitive vanished. Ryker Fyfe completed just five of 17 pass attempts for 52 yards, and had a completion percentage of only 26.7 percent when under no pressure at all. Armstrong hadn’t been a whole lot better – in fact their passing numbers are almost identical – but at least he was offering the threat of making plays with his legs.



Top offensive grades:

T Cole Conrad, 80.0
G Corey Whitaker, 71.5
WR Jordan Westerkamp, 71.4
QB Tommy Armstrong Jr., 62.7
WR Stanley Morgan Jr., 56.5

Throttled by a better defense

When you have players making the top five list with PFF ratings in the 50s and 60s it tells you all you need to know about the performance. The Nebraska offense was just throttled by an Ohio State defense that was a far more accomplished unit. They had a couple of solid performers on the offensive line, but they weren’t enough to prevent the rest of the unit being overwhelmed every snap. Whether they took to the air or ground they were facing an uphill battle and were overmatched at pretty much every turn by one of the best teams in the country.

Top defensive grades:

LB Michael Rose-Ivey, 80.6
CB Joshua Kalu, 80.3
DT Kevin Maurice, 71.6
LB Josh Banderas, 70.4
DE Freedom Akinmoladun, 62.7

Same story on the defensive side of the ball 

Again, though the Nebraska defense did have a couple of players with solid performances, the unit overall just couldn’t contend with Ohio State and was ultimately shredded for 238 rushing yards and 352 passing yards. J.T. Barrett is a tough player to match up with and was actually responsible for three of the 12 total pressures the Nebraska defense managed to total in the game by holding the ball or drifting into the rush. As a team they struggled badly to apply pressure, and it cost them with an inability to hold up in coverage on the back end as long as that was true.



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