Dienhart: 'Ohio State just may be headed for greatness … again'

Dienhart: 'Ohio State just may be headed for greatness … again'

All offseason, pundits pointed out the attrition that Ohio State had suffered, as the Buckeyes had a national-high 12 players selected in the NFL draft.

Stars like running back Ezekiel Elliott, defensive end Joey Bosa, wideout Michael Thomas, offensive tackle Taylor Decker and linebacker Darron Lee—among other studs—were gone from a team that largely underachieved last season. How would a rebuilt Buckeye squad look? Turns out, pretty good.

After Bowling Green opened the scoring with a 63-yard interception return for a TD, the Buckeyes strutted their stuff and announced to the world that they indeed weren’t just back–but maybe better than ever. The romp began thusly:

And on it went on a sun-splashed Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. When fans craned their neck to look at the scoreboard on the way out of the Horseshoe, it read 77-10. The 77 points were the most Ohio State has scored since 1950. Dominating.

More dominating numbers: Ohio State racked up a single-game program record 776 total yards, besting the previous record of 718 set in 1930, and eight Buckeyes scored at least one touchdown.

Any questions?

“We pretty much got taken to the woodshed here today,” Bowling Green coach Mike Jinks said.

That’s a pretty accurate summation. Up next for OSU is a visit from Tulsa, which figures to also get the steamroller treatment. Then comes a Sept. 17 game at Oklahoma, which got dumped today by Houston. Open the season 3-0, and the Ohio State freight train may be difficult to derail.

“Well, it’s one game,” said Buckeye boss Urban Meyer. “Let’s chat in about four weeks now see how we’re doing. It’s one game we have very good personnel. They played well. Let’s go back. Let’s not put the cart before the horse and start anointing anyone. They played pretty good. Other than that, we’ll watch film. I’ll get to you on Monday and tell you really how they played.”

No doubt, Meyer’s fifth Ohio State is off to a good start. And, this could be a special squad. Yes, Bowling Green is just a MAC team. But, the Falcons are a pretty good MAC team. And this was just the performance that Ohio State needed, as it looks to regain a Big Ten throne relinquished to Michigan State last season.

“I feel good like most Buckeyes do right now, because a lot of these kids touching the ball, I could see people going through their programs saying: Who was that again?” Meyer said.

Some of those fresh faces OSU fans are getting to know better: Noah Brown, Johnnie Dixon, K.J. Hill, Mike Weber, Malik Hooker.

This game was devastating display of the potential of those guys and others for the Buckeyes, who rolled up a school single-game record 776 yards. And quarterback J.T. Barrett led the way with a monster effort that further staked his claim as a Heisman contender.

Barrett completed 21-of-31 passes for 349 yards with six touchdown throws and a scoring run. He also ran for 30 yards. His six scoring strikes tied Kenny Guiton for the most in a single game in program history, and his seven total TDs set a school single-game record.

“I thought they played well,” said Meyer. “We have a lot of depth on the offensive skill.”

Among that new skill is the aforementioned Weber, a redshirt freshman who arrived amid big hype. And, the early returns are good. He ran 19 times for 136 yards, averaging 7.2 yards per carry.

And how about do-everything Curtis Samuel? He ran 13 times for 84 yards and a score and caught a game-high nine passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns.

“Mike Weber had a very good day,” said Meyer. “And Curtis Samuel, you know, if I get — 177, almost 300 yards by himself which is — he’s a tremendous talent and it was great to see him have some success.

“(Samuel is) the first true hybrid I’ve had in a while where he’s big enough. Dontre (Wilson) is close, too, he’s up to 197, 198 pounds. Both those guys give us a little bit of a 1-2 punch back there.

“A couple of runs I’d like to see (Weber) pull through. The kid that played for us last year, I can’t remember his name, probably would have pulled through a couple more. He’s still young. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and continue to improve.”

But the guy who was the best of all was Barrett, a name Ohio State fans already are familiar with.

“He’s a cagey veteran,” said Meyer. “There’s a lot of things happening in his football career already. Throwing an interception for touchdown we don’t like that. But rebound, let’s go, and he went right back and said that’s on me. And it was. So let’s go back and attack them. So I thought J.T. played great.”

No, he played great. And Ohio State just may be headed for greatness … again.

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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