COLUMBUS, Ohio – Saturday's game will be remembered for a record setting performance by the offense with seven different pass catchers hauling in touchdowns on the afternoon. What likely will go underreported is how well the defense played, at least in terms of how the defense performed in the first half when the first-teamers saw action.
The Buckeyes totaled 13 tackles for loss, four sacks and two interceptions on the afternoon in a game where anyone who is going to play on defense in 2017 likely saw action.
Ohio State opened up a 37-0 lead before UNLV got on the scoreboard against the Buckeye's 2's and 3's and the Rebels would tack on another offensive score along with a pick-six to make the game semi-respectable with the final score. But this game was not competitive for anyone who watched it as the Ohio State first-team defense pushed around their opponents.
Defensive end Nick Bosa called for a shutout mid-week. That did not come to pass but he was still happy with what the defense was able to do.
"We wanted our 2's to play a little better and the penalties hurt us too," Bosa said. "I think the 1's played really well and our 2's just have to step it up when they get the chance. There were some good things but they just did not play soundly and do their job instead of jumping around and trying to make plays."
Penalties plagued the Buckeyes to the tune of 85 yards on eight calls. Several of those calls prolonged drives after the Ohio State defense held.
Saturday's game really was the first chance for the Ohio State pass rush to flex its muscles after starting off the year in B1G play and then following that up with a top-five opponent and then the flexbone offense.
"We were dying to pass rush, coach was emphasizing it all week," Bosa said. "We got out there and we that dude was sitting back there a little bit, so we got to attack him a little bit. It was fun."
Many critics who are not around football may say that a game like this against an overmanned opponent don't bring much value but don't tell that to the players on the team who are now a quarter of the way through the regular season.
"When you get in the game it is different, it is just a different feel than any practice rep you could take," Bosa added. "It is just different, it is game time and when you get those reps it helps a lot."
Now the Buckeyes will play Big Ten foes the rest of the way until a potential bowl game. Does Bosa feel that he and his teammates are ready to start league play?
"I think we are good to go," Bosa said. "I think our offense is clicking and our defense has been pretty good all year."
It does leave a question of what-if though. What if the Buckeyes started their season against UNLV instead of Indiana? What if the Buckeyes had a game or two to get things 'right' before facing Oklahoma? Bosa admitted that he has thought about that too.
"I was thinking about that today, I think if JT (Barrett) and the offense got their timing going in games like this and just got a couple of leaves under their belt, it would have been a lot different when we played Oklahoma," Bosa said.