Associated Press, September 23, 2017
(AP) For all the criticism he has endured, J.T. Barrett keeps making his mark on the Ohio State record books.
The Ohio State quarterback threw touchdown passes to five different receivers in the first half before giving way to the mop-crew on the way to a 54-21 rout of Nevada-Las Vegas on Saturday. His 209 yards moved him into second place behind Art Schlichter for all-time passing yards at Ohio State with 7,348. He needs another 200 to pass Schlichter, the Buckeyes QB from 1978 to 1981.
But the level of competition – Army last week and UNLV this week – makes it hard to tell if Ohio State (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) has improved significantly since losing to Oklahoma two weeks ago. It felt good, but how much good did it do? The Buckeyes won't be greatly tested again until they play No. 4 Penn State at home on Oct. 28.
"Let's go do that against a team that's equally matched," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "That's my challenge every day."
Barrett was barely slowed by an outgunned UNLV defense, completing 12 of 17 passes for 209 yards before handing the game over to backup Dwayne Haskins near the end of the first half. Together they threw for a school record 474 yards.
Barrett threw scoring passes to Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, Binjimen Victor, Terry McLaurin and K.J. Hill. True freshman running back J.K. Dobbins added to his growing resume by rushing for 95 yards on 14 carries before taking a seat just before halftime.
"J.T is on another level of confidence with us right now," Campbell said. "He tells us (that) every day."
A sixth and seventh receiver – C.J. Saunders and Rashod Berry – caught TD passes from Haskins, marking the first time in history Ohio State had more than five different receivers catch scoring passes in a game.
"This is the type of team you come here to play at Ohio State – you make a mistake, they're going to make you pay for it," UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said. "And they made us pay for a bunch of them early on in the game."
UNLV: The Rebels (1-2) will be happy to take their big check and move on to Mountain West conference play.
OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes put up huge numbers, but UNLV didn't put up much of a fight. One thing becomes clearer each week: Dobbins is Ohio State's next big star.
"What we did today we have to be able to do against a like opponent," Campbell said. "You want to do it against the best."
POLL IMPLICATIONS: The Buckeyes won last week and dropped two spots, so it's difficult to predict. The level of competition won't do them any favors with voters.
FEW GOOD THINGS FOR REBS
Running back Lexington Thomas provided one of the few highlights for UNLV, racing through the Ohio State defense for a 55-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Javin White jumped in front of a Haskins pass in the fourth quarter and returned it 65 yards for a score, but the game was already out of reach.
Thomas carried 12 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns.
The game wasn't flawless for Ohio State, especially for the inexperienced secondary. The defensive backs are still showing soft spots and making big mistakes.
Cornerback Kendall Sheffield was called for pass interference twice, and also was the target of a holding call. Cornerback Denzel Ward also committed pass interference on a fourth-down play, extending UNLV's first scoring drive.
Backup CB Trevon Forte was called for roughing the UNLV punter in the third quarter, and the Rebels scored three plays later on Thomas' long run.
"Terrible," Meyer said of the mistakes. "It's awful."
MORE ON BARRETT
The Ohio State quarterback finished the game with 9,982 yards of total offense for his career, 14 shy of becoming the first player in school history to reach 10,000 yards.
He won his 29th game as starting quarterback, one shy of tying Bobby Hoying for third on the all-time Ohio State list.
UNLV: Hosts San Jose State next Saturday.
Ohio State: Begins a string of eight Big 10 games next Saturday at Rutgers.