Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett led eight straight touchdown drives against Nebraska before his night ended early in the fourth quarter Saturday night.
The wind had kicked up and the temperature had dropped into the 40s as he stood with punter Drue Chrisman while the clock wound down.
“It’s cold here on the sideline,” Barrett recalled saying. That’s when Chrisman reminded him that Ohio State hadn’t punted.
“I almost wanted to say ‘I apologize’ to him,” Barrett said, laughing, “but I didn’t.”
The way Ohio State’s offense has been playing the last month, Chrisman’s services have barely been needed. The surge continued in the ninth-ranked Buckeyes’ 56-14 rout of Nebraska, with Barrett passing for five touchdowns and running for two others.
The Buckeyes (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) tied their school record with a fourth straight game of scoring 50-plus points, and now they get a week off before their East Division showdown with third-ranked Penn State.
“This is a good time to be cooking,” coach Urban Meyer said, “but also a good time to have a bye week. Coming into Nebraska and playing the way they played and in front of that crowd was outstanding.”
Ohio State rolled up 633 total yards and had 41 first downs while scoring the most points by a Nebraska conference opponent in Lincoln and most overall by any opponent here since Minnesota won 61-7 in 1945 when the Huskers were in the Big Six.
Barrett was 27 of 33 for a season-high 325 yards and rushed 10 times for 48 yards before giving way to backup Dwayne Haskins on the second series of the fourth quarter.
“Not an easy environment to throw the ball, just with the wind blowing,” Meyer said. “I thought they challenged us early in the game, and they were determined to stop the run with eight or nine guys up on the line. They were going to stop the run and force us to be a throwing team, and he had one of his better days.”
J.K. Dobbins ran for 106 yards on 12 carries, Mike Weber had 82 yards on 18 carries, and K.J. Hill caught seven balls for 80 yards and two touchdowns.
It was Ohio State’s second straight lopsided win over the Huskers. The Buckeyes won 62-3 in Columbus last year.
“Something we talked about was understanding we were coming to a place with a lot of tradition and pride, here at Nebraska, and they were going to take their best shot at us and we had to be ready to go,” Barrett said.
For Nebraska (3-4, 2-2), this beat-down followed a 21-point home loss to Wisconsin and turned up the heat on third-year coach Mike Riley another notch or two or three.
“There’s not a lot of anything happy, good to say about that one,” Riley said. “That was a real disappointing loss, how it started and continued through it.”
Ohio State went into the game as a 24-point favorite — Nebraska hadn’t been a bigger underdog at home since 1957 — and was up 35-0 at halftime. A trickle of fans headed for the exits when it was 21-0, and many more were gone by the start of the second half in what undoubtedly was a referendum on Riley and his staff. The stadium was less than a quarter full early in the fourth quarter.
When the Huskers picked up their second first down of the game late in the second quarter, fans gave them a sarcastic cheer and many let go of their red balloons. Those balloons traditionally are launched when Nebraska scores its first touchdown. That didn’t come until the third quarter, after it was 42-0, when Tanner Lee and JD Spielman hooked up for a 77-yard catch-and-run.
Lee finished with 303 yards passing, and Spielman finished with a school-record 200 yards on 11 receptions.
Ohio State: All you need to know about the Buckeyes’ offense right now: They’ve amassed more than 500 total yards in five straight games and Barrett has completed 99 of 137 passes (72 percent) with 18 touchdowns and no interceptions since the Oklahoma game. Oh, and the Buckeyes tied Nebraska for fourth place on the major-college all-time win list with 892.
“I like our practice habits, this is a clean-living team we have, and this is a good bunch of guys,” Meyer said. “You can tell the way guys practice. ... We’ve had three or four weeks of incredible practices.”
Nebraska: The Huskers have lost four of their last six games, meaning they’ll have to win three of their last five to become bowl eligible. The good news is that except for a trip to Penn State next month, they play more comparable opponents the rest of the way.
The Buckeyes should creep up a spot or two after two teams ahead of them, Clemson and Washington State, lost.
Ohio State hosts Penn State on Oct. 28
Nebraska plays at Purdue on Oct. 28.