No. 3 Ohio State pushed No. 14 Oklahoma around all night in an easy 45-24 win, rushing 48 times for 291 yards as the Sooners struggled to contain the Buckeyes’ electric ball carriers.
The Sooners (1-2) had been stiff against the run in their first two games this season, but they had no answers for Ohio State (3-0). Quarterback J.T. Barrett joined running backs Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel in running through, around and over OU’s defense.
“They got us out of a lot of our stuff, made it a physical game, and we didn’t react well to it,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said.
Oklahoma had a chance to prove its prior performances were no fluke early in the game, with the Buckeyes facing 4th-and-1 on the Sooners’ 36-yard line. However, the Sooners appeared confused before the snap and Samuel quickly found the left edge of the defense and sprinted for a 7-0 lead.
“The one run (they scored on), it was around the edge,” head coach Bob Stoops said. “They get 50 yards for a touchdown on fourth and one. Is that brute strength? It’s perimeter speed.”
Ohio State often used an unbalanced formation, which both Stoops brothers said limited what packages the Sooners could utilize on defense.
“They made us stagnant,” Mike Stoops said.
Weber averaged 6.8 yards per carry, and Samuel topped that with an average of 8.9 per tote.
“When any team motions, it gets kind of difficult making sure we were all right and stuff like that,” senior linebacker Jordan Evans said.
The defensive front had some injury trouble as well, with defensive lineman Jordan Wade and linebacker Tay Evans missing stretches of the game due to injury.
The inability to stop Barrett, who picked up 74 yards with his legs, may be particularly concerning going forward. TCU quarterback Kenny Hill, whom the Sooners will face on Oct. 1 following a bye week, has six rushing touchdowns this season.
The week after that, Oklahoma plays Texas and its 18-wheeler package that sees backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes follow behind a bevy of big-bodied blockers, a formation Notre Dame was unable to stop in the season opener.
One place Mike Stoops said could see some change is outside linebacker, where the undersized converted nickelback Will Johnson has been playing in front of players who are bigger yet less experienced.
“They made Will Johnson play like an outside linebacker,” Mike Stoops said. “That’s something we need to look at, being more physical at that position.”