#3 Buckeyes can’t get over the hump against #12 Oregon in 35-28 loss

Ohio State Football coach Ryan Day
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After a slow start Saturday, Ohio State and Oregon went back-and-forth in Top-15 matchup in Ohio Stadium. Buckeye quarterback C.J. Stroud threw for 472 yards and three touchdowns, but it was not enough to overcome a strong Duck offense that seemed to answer every Buckeye score with one of its own in a 35-28 inter-conference win.

Three Buckeye receivers topped 100 yards receiving on the day as Chris Olave hauled in 12 catches for 126 yards, Garrett Wilson had eight grabs for 117, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba went for 145 yards on seven receptions.

Oregon was led by running back CJ Verdel, who scored three touchdowns while amassing 195 total yards.

Ohio State and Oregon played the first quarter to a scoreless stalemate.

Buckeye quarterback Stroud started the game 4-for-4 for 25 yards on the opening drive that stalled on downs at the Ducks 31. For the quarter, Olave hauled in four receptions for 20 yards.

The stanza marked the first time Ohio State has gone scoreless in the first quarter of a game since the 2019 Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin.

Following a Jesse Mirco 33-yard punt that pinned the Ducks down at their own 1-yard line, Oregon marched 99 yards on 10 plays in just under four minutes to open the day’s scoring on a 14-yard run by Verdell.

The Buckeyes answered several minutes later with an impressive 70-yard drive of their own. Stroud connected with Smith-Njigba for a pair of receptions totaling 41 yards before finding a wide open Wilson in the right side of the endzone from 27 yards out to knot the game at seven.

Oregon headed into the locker room with a seven-point advantage, highlighted by another 14-yard score by Verdell. This time it was via the air from QB Anthony Brown to finish off a seven-play, 65-yard drive, again taking just under four minutes.

A key play in the drive was a 30-yard pass from Brown to Kris Hutson to placed the Ducks near the Buckeye red zone at the 23-yard line.

For the half, Stroud completed 16-of-22 passes for 190 yards and the lone score. Miyan Williams was the top ground-gainer with 58 yards on 11 carries.

Oregon opened the second half with possession and capitalized as Verdell completed the TD hat trick with a 77-yard jaunt to the endzone. His score capped an 84-yard drive covered just three plays in 1:16.

Ohio State answered the call on the ensuring possession, driving 75 yards in seven plays in just over three minutes. Stroud went 4-for-4 on the drive, connecting with Olave (nine, 14 yards), Wilson (22 yards) and Smith-Njigba for a 26-yard tally down the middle to cut the Oregon lead to 21-14.

The Ducks flapped back on their next possession as Travis Dye carried off the left edge for a five-yard score. Oregon marched 75 yards in seven plays in just under two minutes.

The Buckeyes knocked on the Ducks’ door once again and drove inside their 10-yard line late in the period, but came up shy on an incomplete pass on fourth-and-two from the eight-yard line.

Coming off a 29-yard completion from Stroud to Smith-Njigba to close out the third quarter, the Buckeyes finished off an eight-play, 73-yard scoring drive with a two-yard rush from TreVeyon Henderson to close to within 28-21 with 12:54 to play.

The Ducks answered the bell once again on their next drive as Brown tossed his second TD of the day from 14 yards out to Moliki Matavao. The drive went 74 yards in six plays in 2:36.

Stroud again found Olave for his 10th grab of the game accounting for 41 yards to spark another scoring drive. Stroud found Smith-Njigba for second TD of the game from 15 yards away to bring Ohio State once again to within a touchdown at 35-28 with just under 8:00 to play. The drive covered 75 yards on eight plays.

For the first time since the opening period, the teams traded punts several times before Stroud was picked off for the first time of the day turning the ball over to the Ducks with less than 3:00 to play.

The Ducks then closed out the game on the ensuing drive.

GAME STORY COURTESY OSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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