COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State desperately needed some positive vibes after a deflating, demoralizing loss to Oklahoma at home a week ago. Overmatched Army was able to help out on Saturday.
True freshman J.K. Dobbins ran for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns as No. 8 Ohio State rebounded to rout the visitors from West Point 38-7. J.T. Barrett, the target this week of critics who suggested he should be benched after the 31-16 loss to Oklahoma, was 25 for 33 for 270 yards and two touchdowns, albeit against a much less-talented defense.
Dobbins, who rushed for 181 yards in the season opener at Indiana, broke away for an electrifying 52-yard touchdown run to open the second half after romping for 22 yards on the previous play, extending Ohio State’s 17-7 halftime lead. The Buckeyes (2-1) then got touchdowns on two of their next three drives to pull away.
“He’s a perfect tailback,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “He’s the space player we need.”
Barrett looked sharper and the play calling was more diverse, as offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson had promised. The quarterback was especially slick on a drive in the third quarter when he hit tight end Marcus Baugh for 31 yards then, two plays later, threw a perfect 20-yard scoring strike on a post route to Terry McLaurin in the end zone.
That gave him 106 touchdowns responsible for in his career, tying him for the all-time Big Ten lead with Purdue’s Drew Brees. He broke the record on the next possession when he tossed a 9-yard scoring pass to Austin Mack.
“The heart of a lion,” Meyer said of Barrett. “He’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever been around, so that’s pretty good characteristics to have for the guy touching the ball every snap.”
Army’s triple-option threw off the Buckeyes at times and extended some drives, but OSU’s athletic defensive line kept it contained. The outgunned Black Knights (2-1) compiled 278 offensive yards but didn’t score after a 3-yard Darnell Woolfolk touchdown run in the second quarter.
“They outplayed us and outcoached us,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “For the first 30 minutes I thought we were slugging it pretty good, and there were times in the second half we were playing really good football, but you got to play that way for 60 minutes.”
Army: The Black Knights looked respectable in the first half, but couldn’t run with the Buckeyes in the second.
“I thought that we ran the ball really well up front sometimes,” Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw said. “Our offensive line, they blocked them really well. But (Ohio State) played really hard, they are a very talented team and they won a lot of one-on-one battles.”
Ohio State: After dropping the big one to Oklahoma last week, the Buckeyes took care of business. Their championship hopes are still alive, but there is no room for error.
NO TIME FOR THAT
Barrett said he tried to ignore the media and fan criticism of him that swirled around the team all week as it tried to prepare for Army.
“People have a right to their opinion,” the low-key fifth-year player said. “That’s something that’s part of our great country, freedom of speech, but they really don’t know the inner workings involved every single week, game plan every single game. Even go down through every single play. That being said, they’re speaking things based on what they’ve seen or hear, which is fine.”
Ohio State: Probably won’t move much after dominating in a game it was supposed to dominate.
“It was really cool to have them stand behind us. It comes down to a respect thing. Knowing what they do for us — you go to sleep at night knowing guys like that are protecting our country, so it was incredible to share that moment with them.” — McLaurin, after each team stood with the other to sing their school songs after the game.
Army: Plays Tulane at New Orleans.
Ohio State: Gets another tuneup game at home against UNLV.