COLUMBUS -- Oregon started quickly and stayed at least a step ahead of Ohio State throughout a 35-28 upset Saturday afternoon.
The third-ranked Buckeyes were staggered early and unable to make the plays they needed late to overcome a strong all-around performance by the 12th-ranked Ducks, who had lost their first nine games in the series but picked up one of the biggest wins in school history.
“I felt like it was a game that we were really never in control of,” said Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, who suffered a regular season loss for the first time in his three-plus seasons at the helm of the Buckeyes. “Then they ran the ball, and we didn’t do a very good job running the football. Because of that, they had control of the game.”
Here are five things to know about Ohio State’s first regular-season loss since October 2018 and the Buckeyes’ first home loss since early 2017:
1. Defensive front struggled
Oregon averaged 7.07 yards per carry, the fifth-most by an Ohio State opponent all time.
The Ducks’ 269 yards on the ground are the most since Day took over as head coach in 2019, and the most since Maryland ran for 339 in the next-to-last game of the regular season in 2018.
CJ Verdell ran for 161 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 77-yard scoring jaunt early in the third quarter that tightened the Ducks’ grip on the game after they led 14-7 at halftime.
Verdell also had a pair of 14-yard touchdowns — one was ruled to be a pass but it occurred behind the line of scrimmage — on outside run plays in which the Buckeyes were outflanked.
“It looked like they were getting into some sort of a ‘crack’ scheme,” Day said. “Where the guy who was covering the man cracking the linebacker has to replace. That didn’t happen, and that happened too many times. That needs to be fixed.”
The Buckeyes also failed to record a sack.
2. The secondary wasn’t much better
Anthony Brown threw for 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns without an interception for the Ducks.
He made numerous important completions to keep the chains moving and frequently had wide-open targets thanks to breakdowns in the Ohio State defensive structure or players preoccupied with stopping the run.
Brown also ran for 65 yards, taking advantage of the Buckeyes’ defense being stretched to its limit.
3. The OSU offense had a huge game, but it wasn’t enough
Ohio State piled up 612 yards, including 484 through the air.
The Buckeyes actually outgained Oregon in terms of yards per play — 7.2 to 6.9 — but suffered some key breakdowns at the wrong time.
They turned the ball over on downs three times, including at the Oregon 31 on their opening drive and again early in the third quarter at the Oregon 8.
“It just seemed a little out of whack today for whatever reason, and then we didn’t convert those those fourth downs,” Day said. “Sometimes when those runs go for four or five (yards) as opposed to two or three, it makes all the difference in the world, especially in plus territory. It didn’t today, and that kind of threw us off.”
4. Ohio State ran for 128 yards, and Day bemoaned the lack of balance
Miyan Williams drew the start at tailback again and ran for 77 yards on 14 carries.
TreVeyon Henderson got 12 carries for 54 yards off the bench, and veteran Master Teague did not register a carry for the Buckeyes after all three rotated in week one.
“We have 484 yards passing and 128 yards rushing,” Day said. “That’s not balanced, and when we’re not balanced, we’re out of whack.”
The Ducks were able to slow down the Ohio State running game despite having to play without two of their best defensive players as defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and linebacker Justin Flowe were out with injuries.
“It’s hard to express in words the magnitude of coming out here down a couple guys due to injury and just playing really gritty, gutsy football and executing at a high level,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “There was a tremendous job of preparation and turning that game into reality by our players and coaching staff.”
5. C.J. Stroud had an up-and-down day
Ohio State’s freshman starting quarterback flirted with the Ohio State single-game record for passing yards, falling 15 short of Dwayne Haskins’ mark of 499 set in the 2018 Big Ten championship game.
Stroud completed 35 of 54 passes for 484 yards and three touchdowns. He made several big throws and some key conversions but also took a key sack when the Buckeyes were trying to drive for a tying score then threw an interception two plays later in desperation mode.
Three Ohio State receivers went over 100 yards as slot receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba had a career day with seven catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
Chris Olave had 12 catches for 126 yards, and Garrett Wilson had eight catches for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Tulsa at Ohio State, 3:30 p.m., FS1, 1410
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