Football: No. 5 Ohio State escapes Nebraska with 26-17 win

The Lantern
Ohio State freshman defensive end Jack Sawyer (33) completes a sack during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2ppQCl_0copPog900 Ohio State defense celebrates after a play during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4W6qYa_0copPog900 Ohio State redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) prepares to make a pass during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=0HkrvW_0copPog900 Ohio State sophomore safety Ronnie Hickman (14) lines up before the snap during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2iqx0r_0copPog900 Ohio State freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) moves the ball down the field during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4UFF4m_0copPog900 Ohio State senior wide receiver Chris Olave (2) celebrates touchdown during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=43fI9l_0copPog900 Ohio State freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) moves the ball down the field during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=0w5kfu_0copPog900 Ohio State sophomore wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) catches a pass during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1d3Sfd_0copPog900 Ohio State freshman defensive tackle Tyleik Williams (91) points down the field during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3IB2wp_0copPog900 Ohio State freshman defensive end Jack Sawyer (33) celebrates after sack during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=320qbD_0copPog900 Ohio State redshirt freshman running back Miyan Williams (28) moves the ball down the sidelines during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2JYaPy_0copPog900 Ohio State sophomore linebacker Cody Simon (30) stands at the line of scrimmage during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2xKl9R_0copPog900 Ohio State redshirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) passes the ball to freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1cJptA_0copPog900 Ohio State head coach Ryan Day stands on the sidelines during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4VH2SE_0copPog900 Ohio State graduate kicker Noah Ruggles (95) after making a field goal during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=44SHnG_0copPog900 Ohio State senior tight end Jeremy Ruckert (88) runs down the field during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4CW0ny_0copPog900 Ohio State sophomore wide receiver Julian Fleming (4) motions to run the play again during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4ZBq0b_0copPog900 Ohio State senior defensive end Tyreke Smith (11) tries to deflect a pass by Nebraska during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3DqCnJ_0copPog900 Ohio State sophomore wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) runs down field during touchdown reception at the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1453Ip_0copPog900 Ohio State sophomore wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) celebrates touchdown during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3E8Qgp_0copPog900 Ohio State sophomore safety Ronnie Hickman (14) completes a sack during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4AQU9U_0copPog900 Ohio State senior defensive end Tyreke Smith (11) celebrates after sack during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=4UYYrU_0copPog900 Ohio State sophomore wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) carries the ball after a pass during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3LqNJm_0copPog900 The Ohio State sideline celebrates play during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=0lWUxf_0copPog900 Ohio State senior wide receiver Chris Olave (2) attempts to catch a pass during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1EohJT_0copPog900 Ohio State red-shirt freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) prepares for snap during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=43YMS1_0copPog900 Ohio State defense attempts to block a field goal during the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2LXVKY_0copPog900 Ohio State junior offensive lineman Dawand Jones (79) points to the sky after the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=33fANP_0copPog900 The Ohio State Buckeyes sing Carmen Ohio with fans after the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=0c94bh_0copPog900 The Ohio State Buckeyes stand together and sing Carmen after the Ohio State-Nebraska game on Saturday. Ohio State won 26-17. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1e5qLP_0copPog900

Despite early offensive struggles from No. 5 Ohio State, the Buckeyes ultimately got the job done in Lincoln, Nebraska — winning their seventh straight game.

The Buckeyes (8-1, 6-0 Big Ten) kept their College Football Playoff hopes alive Saturday, escaping Memorial Stadium with a 26-17 win over Nebraska (3-7, 1-6 Big Ten). A 46-yard field goal by graduate kicker Noah Ruggles with 1:29 remaining in the game pushed Ohio State’s lead to nine and iced the game.

It took some time for the Buckeyes offense to get operating, turning the ball over on their first two drives while failing to score in the first quarter for the first time since Week 2 against Oregon.

Although Ohio State’s offense saw itself in a situation they hadn’t seen since its lone loss of the season, the Buckeyes’ defense held tough in the game’s early goings. Nebraska’s offense was held scoreless in the first quarter, while only amassing 46 total yards in the quarter.

While the first quarter proved to be a defensive slog, the second quarter provided offensive fireworks.

Ohio State scored on its first three drives of the quarter, including touchdown passes by redshirt freshman C.J. Stroud on two consecutive throws — with wideouts Chris Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba on the receiving end.

Nebraska came right back with 10 points of its own in the quarter, including a 72-yard touchdown pass from redshirt junior quarterback Adrian Martinez to senior wideout Samori Toure. But the Cornhuskers failed to convert on a single third down during the first half.

As the Buckeyes started the second half with a pair of field goals to push their lead to 13, Nebraska found the end zone late in the third quarter to make it a one possession game heading into the fourth quarter.

With junior wide receiver Garrett Wilson out due to an injury, Smith-Njigba rose to the occasion — hauling in career-highs in receptions and yards in the first half alone. Smith-Njigba finished with 15 catches — breaking David Boston’s program record for most receptions in a game — for 240 yards and a touchdown.

Smith-Njigba also made an impact on special teams, racking up 31 punt return yards on two returns.

As Smith-Njigba paced the Ohio State passing game, he also helped calm down Stroud — who struggled in the first quarter. Stroud completed 36-of-54 attempts for 405 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

As the Buckeyes’ passing game proved to be potent against the Cornhuskers, Nebraska made life difficult for freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson.

Henderson — who averages 7.9 yards per carry — was held to 92 yards on 21 carries. The Hopewell, Virginia, native could only rack up 4.4 yards per carry.

Defensively, Ohio State’s pass rush continued its strong stretch — racking up five sacks and eight tackles-for-loss.

Leading the Buckeyes’ relentless pursuit of Martinez was the defensive end duo of senior Tyreke Smith and junior Zach Harrison — with each picking up a sack and tackle for loss. Smith added five tackles, while Harrison finished with four.

The front seven’s strong play against the pass bled into its run defense, holding the Cornhuskers to 113 yards on the ground.

Ohio State’s defense stood tall on third down, in particular. The Cornhuskers failed to convert on a single third-down conversion until midway through the fourth quarter— finishing 2-of-13 on third down.

Ruggles was once again a hero in special teams for the Buckeyes, nailing all four of his field goal attempts.

Martinez, who was hounded by Ohio State’s pass rush all day, threw for 248 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Toure proved to be his favorite target of the day, hauling in four catches for 150 yards — including two catches for more than 50 yards — and a touchdown.

The Buckeyes return to Ohio Stadium Nov. 13, hosting Purdue with the kickoff time still to be determined.

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