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Buckeyes take pride in taking care of business
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Buckeyes take pride in taking care of business

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Ohio State vs. Nebraska, 9.28

Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins (2) escapes a tackle attempt by Nebraska's DiCaprio Bootle in the second quarter Sept. 28 at Memorial Stadium.

Ohio State wasn’t trying to send a message to the nation Saturday night. The Buckeyes were simply trying to win their fifth game of the year and second in the Big Ten.

They accomplished that, drubbing the Huskers 48-7 at Memorial Stadium and looking like one of the nation’s best teams in the process.

“This is just us trying to improve every week and get better,” said Ohio State coach Ryan Day. “This was a major challenge for us, so I’m proud of that. We knew this was going to be hard. As far as this being a benchmark, I don’t know, in terms of it being a benchmark or anything like that. We’re 1-0 on Saturday night.

“I’m proud of the way the guys came out here and played hard, they kind of stepped right in. We talked about it all week, what it was going to take to come in here and win this game on the road. We kind of came in hitting on all cylinders.”

Those cylinders, Day said, included a defensive performance that held Nebraska under 100 yards in total offense until late in the third quarter, running the ball for 368 yards, quarterback Justin Fields going 15-for-21 for 212 yards and three touchdowns, and three first half interceptions that turned into 17 Buckeye points.

Cornerback Jeff Okudah had the first two picks, the second being one of the pivotal plays in the game.

With Nebraska down 14-0 late in the first quarter and driving deep into Buckeye territory, Ohio State was on its heels, taking a timeout to, Day said, make some adjustments against the 1980s-style option attack.

On the next play, Okudah followed a Husker receiver across the field and fell just as the ball arrived.

“I tipped it and I caught it,” he said. “I thank the football gods.”

Like the rest of the Buckeyes, Okudah wouldn’t take the bait and talk about how Ohio State ranks among the college football elite. But he said Saturday’s game should erase any doubts about a team that’s a College Football Playoff contender.

“I would say the country saw, like we were talking about before the game, we are who we think we are," he said. “I know everyone was doubting the schedule, but we were able to show what we can do.”

J.K. Dobbins, who ran through the Blackshirts for 177 yards, had a similar view as Okudah.

“As a team we can play with anybody, I feel like,” Dobbins said. “I’m not going to say anything about championship or anything. We take it game by game, but I feel we can play with anybody.”

Why?

“This team is packed with talent,” Dobbins answered.

Quarterback Fields, who transferred to Ohio State from Georgia, had his best all-around game as a Buckeye, adding 72 yards and a touchdown rushing.

“It definitely feels easy going out there and playing,” Fields said. “We practice hard every day. The harder we practice, the easier the game will be.”

Saturday’s game was supposed to be the first big test for Ohio State — on the road, at night in a frenzied stadium. They passed easily. But Fields knows the Buckeyes can’t let up next week against Michigan State, at Northwestern in three weeks or at home against Wisconsin on Oct. 26.

“In recent years, as we all know, we’ve definitely slipped up.” Fields said. “We’re not doing that this year.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or kwolgamott@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSWolgamott.

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Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott, the recipient of the 2018 Mayor’s Arts Award, has written about arts and entertainment for Lincoln newspapers since 1985, reviewing thousands of movies and concerts and hundreds of art exhibitions.

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