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Noah Brown accentuates his role as No. 1 wide receiver

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NORMAN, Okla. — After Ohio State’s 48-3 victory against Tulsa in Week 2, coach Urban Meyer was asked about the health of redshirt sophomore wide receiver Noah Brown. Meyer said that Brown was 100 percent healthy from last season’s broken leg injury, but Brown was not quite up to the speed he was at when his injury occurred.

The question concerning Brown’s health circled after just one catch for 16 yards and few targets in Week 2. On Saturday against Oklahoma, Brown answered all questions with a dominating performance.

The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Brown hauled in four touchdowns on five receptions and 70 yards versus the beleaguered Sooners’ secondary. The four scores tied a school record set three times before.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve had four touchdowns in a game before,” Brown said. “To come in here, it means a lot into a hostile environment and take out a victory with my brothers.”

Brown’s first score came on a third down and one from the four-yard line. Redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett saw Brown had single-man coverage and Barrett delivered a perfect ball to his receiver’s back shoulder to put OSU up two scores. After that, the Sooners’ defense had no answer for Brown.

The very next play after Oklahoma’s quarterback Baker Mayfield threw an interception to redshirt sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore, Barrett found Brown in single-man coverage again for a 37-yard touchdown. And then with the clock winding down in the first half with no timeouts, Brown made a miraculous play that solidified momentum that the Buckeyes would not relinquish.

Barrett underthrew a pass to the back-left pylon that Brown pinned with one hand against the back of Oklahoma junior cornerback Michiah Quick. The 21-yard score was Brown’s third consecutive touchdown of the night with just six seconds remaining in the first half.

“Anytime J.T. puts the ball in the air, he’s putting trust in me, and I try to come down with the ball,” Brown said. “I think I have a bigger frame. I’m able to box out a little bit so in the redzone that’s what I was able to do today.”

The Flanders, New Jersey, native was talked about all preseason and last season as a player who could be the next great wide receiver in a program that has produced multiple high-round NFL draft picks. Brown displayed his size and athleticism on his first career touchdown catch against Bowling Green, but to catch not one, but four in one of the most hostile environments in college football encapsulates the hard work he put in to overcome adversity.

“It was great to see Noah Brown — I didn’t even realize he had four touchdowns,” Meyer said. “Sometimes good things happen to good people, and he’s a great person that went through an extremely tough injury, so it warms your heart to see him have that type of experience, especially on the road in that type of environment.”

Like many members of this maturing OSU roster, Saturday was Brown’s first challenge on the road. Meyer said that he “swallowed hard” when the team loaded the bus in Columbus. The offensive line wasn’t polished, the offense had a poor first half the week before, the defensive tackle position was thin, and the receivers didn’t possess an identity.

By the time Meyer and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops met at midfield, OSU hid its growing pains in Brown’s superiority on Saturday night.

Brown’s fourth and final touchdown came from Barrett early in the third quarter, topping a career-best performance and four straight OSU drives that ended with the ball in Brown’s hands in the endzone.

Barrett has said before that Brown is the No. 1 guy he feels most confident throwing the ball to. While the team’s speed on the ground has been its bread and butter for the first three games, seeing Brown make one-on-one catches in the endzone on a consistent basis gave OSU the stability it needed to dominate a top-15 opponent on the road.

“My teammates really had my back and supported me (through injury) and helped me get to where I am,” Brown said. “I owed it to them to play well when my number is called.”

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