Ohio State helped usher the Big Ten into the regular season with a 52-17 victory against Nebraska, which hung around for much of the first half but proved unable to slow down quarterback Justin Fields and the Buckeyes offense.
Already one of three teams receiving first-place votes in this week’s Amway Coaches Poll, the Buckeyes showed little signs of the sluggishness that has hobbled even the nation’s best teams after a unique offseason.
Fields completed 20 of his 21 attempts for 276 yards and had a team-high 54 rushing yards with three combined touchdowns as OSU racked up nearly 500 yards of offense.
Stressed early by Nebraska’s tempo — the Cornhuskers have improved depth and overall talent up front, which bodes well for the offense in Scott Frost’s third season — the Buckeyes’ performance from late in the second quarter through the final whistle painted the picture of a team capable of running the table and reaching the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields runs for yardage against Nebraska during the first half at Ohio Stadium. (Photo: Jamie Sabau, Getty Images)
And Penn State?
The Big Ten’s second playoff contender lost 36-35 in overtime to Indiana, dealing a tough blow to the Nittany Lions’ playoff hopes. Ahead 28-20 with over a minute left in the fourth quarter, Penn State allowed the Hoosiers to score and convert the two-point conversion to force overtime. Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. completed the two-point try in the bottom of the extra frame for one of the best wins in program history.
The loss removes much of the luster from next weekend’s prime-time matchup with the Buckeyes. It also seems to remove much of the intrigue: Ohio State will be the significant favorite on the road.
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Finally, the loss opens up room for Michigan, Minnesota or Wisconsin to stake claim for second place in the conference, which dictates where teams fall in the postseason pecking order. But only second place seems up for debate after one week — Ohio State might be too good to unseat from atop the Big Ten.
Here are the rest of Saturday’s winners and losers:
Quietly one of the few remaining unbeaten teams in the Bowl Subdivision heading into the weekend, Oklahoma State bolstered its credibility and took a step toward claiming the top spot in the Big 12 with a 24-21 victory against Iowa State. This could be the Cowboys’ year: Oklahoma, Texas and TCU have struggled and Baylor has taken a step back, almost paving a path for OSU to win the Big 12 and build a case for a spot in the national semifinals.
For Michigan, the best development to come out of a 49-24 win at Minnesota was the play of first-year starting quarterback Joe Milton, who provided an immediate spark for an offense that has produced less-than-optimal results for