ANALYSIS: 5 takeaways from Ohio State’s win over Western Kentucky

COLUMBUS — Ohio State warmed up for a big showdown with Notre Dame by blowing out Western Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.

Head coach Ryan Day said the Buckeyes treated their 63-10 win like anything but a scrimmage, though.

“Make no mistake about it: We were turned up this week,” Day said. “We wanted to build momentum for this week, and now we’ve got to get back to work.”

Here are five things to know about the game:

1. In the second quarter, Ohio State found the offensive rhythm that had been missing in the first two games.

Ohio State scored touchdowns on four consecutive drives in the second quarter on drives that totaled nine plays.

Marvin Harrison Jr. got behind the defense on a play-action pass for 75 yards, then Chip Trayanum split a spread out defense for a 40-yard touchdown jaunt straight up the middle. The Buckeyes tacked on a four-play, 48-yard drive then a three-play, 58-yard drive to leave the Hilltoppers in the dust.

2. The defense turned the Hilltoppers over four times in the first half and three more times in the second half.

WKU coach Tyson Helton went for it on fourth down five times in the first half, and the ‘Toppers converted only two. They turned the ball over on downs three times and lost a fumble before intermission.

That meant the Buckeyes had great field position throughout the first half, including taking over twice in WKU territory and two other times between their own 40 and midfield.

In the second half, the Ohio State defense recovered a fumble for a touchdown and picked off two passes, one of which Jermaine Mathews Jr. returned for the last touchdown of the game.

“We knew it was going to be a wide-open game,” Day said. “They were gonna make some plays, but I thought overall our defense didn’t flinch. They hung in there on the fourth downs, and that was good. And you saw some guys make some plays.”

3. Kyle McCord continued to look more comfortable at the controls.

The junior quarterback completed 19 of 23 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns.

He increased his passing yardage and completion percentages for the third straight week, going from 60.6 to 70 to 83 in the latter and 239 to 258 in the former.

“I think my job as the quarterback for this team is just all about how can I keep us on schedule and get the ball to my playmakers,” he said. “I feel like I did that today. The O-line and the running backs did a really nice job on first and second down of running the ball and getting us positive plays to start the drive off. That’s a huge boost to the offense. If we can play in front of the chains we can take shots down the field and that opens up the entire playbook.”

4. The running game was efficient.

TreVeyon Henderson ran 13 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns while Trayanum picked up 56 yards on five carries.

The Buckeyes finished with 204 yards on a season-high 33 carries. They last went over 200 yards on the ground last season against Indiana in early November.

“When we’re running the ball the way we were today, that makes it a lot easier,” Day said. “That was big. It was big to get some explosive runs and move the line of scrimmage. We converted some third downs much better. It wasn’t perfect. We’ll keep working at it.”

5. The defense passed its first test.

The Silver Bullet defense accounted for more points than it allowed, notching a pair of touchdowns in the second half while allowing only 10 points in 60 minutes against a team that came in averaging 46.5.

WKU quarterback Austin Reed, who threw for over 5,000 yards to lead the nation last season, was held to 207.

“I feel like we played good,” cornerback Denzel Burke said. “We played solid. It was a good game, but we’ve still got a lot of stuff to clean up. We’re trying to play at a high level so when these matchup games come, we’re ready. Next week we’re going to South Bend. It’s a real one.”

Stat of the game

Ohio State scored five more points than it had in its first two games combined. The Buckeyes opened the season beating Indiana 23-3 then topped Youngstown State 35-7 last week.

Game ball

Marvin Harrison Jr. caught five passes for 126 yards, his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game. More notably, his 75-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter answered Western Kentucky’s only score and put the Buckeyes back up 11 after the Hilltoppers had cut the lead to 14-10 in the second quarter. They never looked back after that.

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