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Ten Things We Learned From Ohio State's 62-3 Win Over Nebraska
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — It was a 62-3 win for the No. 6 Buckeyes (8-1, 5-1) over the No. 10 Huskers (7-2, 4-2), just as I correctly predicted.

Okay, that last part is a lie, and anybody who tries to convince you that they were predicting something like this is either lying or a homer of Simpsonic proportions.

Ohio State dominated Nebraska in ever way possible. Heck, they may have even created a few new ways. This was a Huskers team that had no say in this outcome. Every time they tried to interject, the Buckeyes snapped their mouth shut with just a look.

This was an Ohio State team that was playing with full confidence all around. It was enough to make the head coach smile from ear to ear as much in pride as disbelief. It was relief, it was happiness, and there is no doubt that it has scratched that championship itch just enough to need to scratch it again.

And by the end of November people will be telling him that if he keeps scratching it, it will get infected -- that's when the hair brush comes out.

You could see in Urban Meyer's eyes that he learned a lot about his team Saturday night. What did we learn about them?

1. This was a 'trust fall' for J.T. Barrett.

Throughout this season we have seen J.T. Barrett a little reluctant to throw the ball at times, or when he did want to throw the ball he didn't have the time. We've seen miscommunications, poor routes, poor throws, and all that bad stuff over the first two months of the season. We even saw it last night against Nebraska. What we also saw, however, is Barrett trusting in everyone around him, and it led to 290 yards passing in three quarters of play. This was the best offense we have seen from the Buckeyes this season and it was because Barrett had faith in his protection and he had faith in his receivers. Even when there were mistakes, that faith did not diminish. He was throwing the ball earlier and he was attacking windows that he has been reluctant to attack previously.

2. The production still needs to climb with the outside receivers.

While outside receivers Terry McLaurin and Noah Brown did catch two of J.T. Barrett's four touchdown passes, they only combined for three catches for 21 yards. Austin Mack added one catch for eight yards as well. That's four receptions for the outside receivers for 28 yards. By contrast, the slot receivers caught 17 passes for 247 yards, and the tight ends caught seven passes for 59 yards. The entire group works together, however, and the routes that the wide guys are running do a lot to open up the inside stuff. And when Curtis Samuel is your best player, you're going to do what you can to get him the ball, which will impact the numbers of the outside guys. Still, four catches for 28 yards -- not counting Corey Smith's three touches for two yards -- needs to get better.

3. Gareon Conley rotating in at nickel is perfect.

At halftime of last week's game against Northwestern, I wondered if Ohio State would give in and put a starting cornerback on slot receiver Austin Carr and go from there. They did not and he continued to produce. After the game, Luke Fickell said that they would revisit their attack in similar situations. Against Nebraska, we saw what that meant, as Gareon Conley rotated with Damon Arnette in the nickel. Nebraska receiver Jordan Westerkamp caught four passes for 51 yards, working mainly out of the slot. His long catch of the night -- 32 yards -- came with safety Damon Webb in coverage. His other three catches went for just 19 yards. The cornerback rotation has not only kept Conley, Marshon Lattimore, and Denzel Ward fresh, it has allowed Ward to get a ton of experience, which allows Conley to play in the slot more when the need arises. At this point, the need will likely arise for the rest of the season.

4. If the offensive line pass blocks like this, it won't matter how deep a defense is playing.

At one point on Saturday night, J.T. Barrett was so protected that the University declared the pocket a "safe space" free from the uncomfortable discussions of quarterback sacks. If the offensive line is going to protect like this, the Buckeyes will gladly allow a defense to play 10 yards off of their outside receivers as they take the intermediate stuff all game long. It also allows the slot guys to be the deep targets instead, as we saw with Curtis Samuel's 75-yard touchdown grab.

5. Denzel Ward has emerged.

The Buckeyes' fastest player continues to get better as a defender and on Saturday night he looked like he put it all together. Denzel Ward has played well this season, but the game against Nebraska may have been his best. Getting more snaps than normal because of Gareon Conley rotating in the nickel, Ward led the team with three passes broken up. He has four PBUs over the last two weeks. Conley and Marshon Lattimore have just two between them. Ward has always been seen as the third cornerback in this rotation, and he still may be, but that certainly no longer comes with any sort of negative connotation.

6. This may be November, but the season just got started.

If November is for contenders, then Ohio State just put their hat in the ring with extreme prejudice. September is for pretenders, October is for ... getting things figured out, I guess. Urban Meyer said after the game that he was relieved to see his team play like they did. Nebraska may not have deserved to be a Top 10 team, but Ohio State wasn't performing like this against any teams with a pulse in October, so you'll have to forgive him if it brought a bit of perma-grin to his face. The Buckeyes will now take to the road for two straight weeks before they come home for the season finale against Michigan. This was exactly the kind of momentum that Ohio State needed before heading to Maryland and Michigan State, and it was exactly the type of monster that those two teams needed to see. Business has just picked up.

7. The young guys on offense are earning more time.

After the game, Urban Meyer was speaking highly of freshman running back Demario McCall, saying that he has possibly earned more playing time. We saw receivers Ben Victor and Austin Mack in the game while it was still early. Meyer said last week that Victor was in line for more time, and we saw him nearly come down with a touchdown catch. Redshirt freshman tight end A.J. Alexander continues to get minutes, and caught three passes, including one with a very high level of difficulty. Redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Burrow was 6-for-6 passing, and if everything goes well, he could see some time the next two weeks as well. Oh, and then there's K.J. Hill catching five passes for 66 yards out of the slot. H-back next year is going to be a two-headed attack with him and McCall, but Hill has earned more and more time already. There is no waiting until next year for him.

8. It was a great night to be recruiting for Ohio State.

There were lasers and fireworks and explosions, and that was just on the scoreboard. Then there were actual lasers in the tunnel, and fireworks and explosions on top of the scoreboard. There was quite a bit of spectacle going on last night. There were enough 5-star prospects on campus this past weekend to populate a small village, and Ohio State put their best foot forward every step of the way. Those visits are finishing up today, but don't worry, they will be long lasting.

9. The offense is still capable.

The Buckeyes put up 590 yards of total offense against Nebraska and pretty much dialed things back for the entire fourth quarter. This was the offense that everyone had thought might be possible, so to see it realized is a big boost when talking about what this offense is capable of. Nebraska doesn't have a great defense, but they're decent. Teams shouldn't be putting up 590 yards on them like the Buckeyes did. That's 102 yards more than anybody else has managed against them this season. Ohio State was the first B1G team to even hit the 400-yard mark against Nebraska this season. The Huskers were allowing just 332.2 yards in B1G play before they went to Columbus, and the Buckeyes almost doubled that number in one nearly-perfect night. They should continue to build momentum over their next two games as well. They will be well-oiled when the time comes to go all out against that team up north.

10. If you still have a problem with J.T. Barrett, that's a YOU problem.

With all due respect, if you are still complaining about every J.T. Barrett incompletion, then football may just not be the sport for you. Maybe try Pop-A-Shot instead. There is no such thing as a perfect quarterback, but someone who completes 26-of-38 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns like J.T. Barrett did is pretty damn close to it. If you can't see that, then you're missing out. Too many Buckeye fans are simply focused on Barrett's negatives and they ignore all of his positives. They see the three or four missed passes last night and get angry, ignoring the fact that those drives ended up in scores anyway. The thing about Barrett that his Scarlet and Gray critics forget is that he's pretty good at fixing a mistake, and that includes a bad throw in mid-drive. J.T. Barrett isn't yet where he wants to be, but he's still way beyond where his detractors think he is.

Player profiles relevant to story:
12 - Ward, Denzel | 14 - Hill, K.J.  | 16 - Barrett, J.T.
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