Junior H-back Curtis Samuel was called the primary playmaker for Ohio State by coach Urban Meyer during the spring. On Saturday afternoon, Buckeye fans got a taste of how effective the junior can be, as Samuel scored twice as a receiver and once as a rusher against the Bowling Green Falcons, propelling the team to a 77-10 blowout victory.
Although the offense was clicking for most of the game, the 2016 season got off to a bit of a bumpy start for OSU. On the first offensive drive for the Buckeyes, redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett had a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Bowling Green sophomore outside linebacker Brandon Harris.
The 7-0 lead the Falcons enjoyed would be their only one of the afternoon, as OSU responded with 21-straight points.
OSU freshman wide receiver K.J. Hill hauled in a picture-perfect pass from Barrett on his way to a 47-yard touchdown reception. The long strike tied the game at seven, and the Buckeyes never looked back.
The Buckeyes would strike two more times before the first quarter ended. Samuel and senior H-back Dontre Wilson were on the receiving ends of perfectly placed passes by Barrett. Samuel made a quick cut to the middle, creating a three-yard gap between himself and the Bowling Green defender. With no deep safety help, Samuel broke free untouched for a 79-yard touchdown.
Samuel ended his day with 261 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.
“It’s a great feeling to be one of the first people out there to touch the ball,” Samuel said. “I have to keep my mind right. I just want to ball out and make opportunities for my team.”
After a field goal from Bowling Green sophomore kicker Jake Suder brought the Falcons within striking distance, OSU redshirt sophomore Noah Brown responded with his first career touchdown reception. Brown made the back-shoulder catch while being blanketed by a defender in the right side of the endzone.
Brown ended his day with four receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown. Redshirt senior wide receiver Corey Smith failed to hail in a pass, and he saw limited time on the field.
The ball was spread to multiple Buckeye receivers, tight ends, running backs and H-backs throughout the afternoon. By halftime, six different receivers had receptions in the game, and by the end of the game, nine different receivers caught a pass.
After OSU regained the ball, Barrett made use of his legs, picking up a nine-yard touchdown run with just 26 seconds left in the half.
Redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber, who had been named the starter on Wednesday, used a bruising running style to wear down the Falcon defense. The Detroit native pounded away, averaging 7.2 yards per carry and amassing 136 yards total.
Weber produced at a high level for a player in his first collegiate game. Meyer jokingly said he could not remember his running back from last year, and also noted he expects to see Weber produce at a level near now departed Ezekiel Elliott.
“He’s still young,” Meyer said. “We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and continue to improve.”
The Buckeyes outscored the Falcons 42-0 during the second half of play, powered for much of the third quarter by Barrett and Samuel.
Tossing his sixth touchdown, Barrett set a new OSU record for touchdowns responsible for with seven. After the impressive showing, Barrett bowed out for redshirt freshman Joe Burrow.
OSU finished the day with 776 total yards. This total surpassed the previous record of 718, set against Mount Union in 1930.
The OSU defense surrendered just 244 total yards to Bowling Green. A question mark for much of the spring, the Silver Bullets stifled much of the Falcons offense, not allowing a single offensive touchdown all afternoon.
Redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker proved his worth as the starting safety for the Buckeyes. An acrobatic interception deep in Bowling Green territory and an over-the-shoulder pick on a deep pass set up a pair of touchdowns for OSU.
The defense of the Buckeyes took a shot, however, as redshirt junior defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle sustained a knee injury early in the game. He did not return to the game.
“We have the best defensive lineman coach in the country in Larry Johnson,” OSU defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. “He’s had experience with situations like this. We’re all going to pitch in and work through it and find a solution.”
Burrow and fellow freshman Demario McCall both scored their first career touchdowns on a 36-yard reception by McCall. Following the trend of firsts, freshman defensive end Nick Bosa picked up his first career sack near the beginning of the fourth corner.
The Scarlet and Gray will look to keep the momentum entering next Saturday when the Buckeyes are scheduled to face Tulsa at noon in Ohio Stadium.
This story has been amended with quotes following a press conference after the game.