Ohio State’s 26-17 win at Nebraska wouldn’t have been possible without the play of sophomore wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who set a program record for receptions to steer the No. 5 Buckeyes past the upset-minded Cornhuskers.
Smith-Njigba finished with 15 receptions, setting a new single-game record, for 240 yards and a touchdown. He is the first OSU receiver to crack the 200-yard mark since Santonio Holmes in 2004.
The team’s second-leading receiver heading into Saturday with 35 catches for 648 yards, Smith-Njigba has been overshadowed by teammates Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, two of the best in the Big Ten and the Football Bowl Subdivision.
All three should earn all-conference honors. The collection of receiver talent has smoothed out the Buckeyes’ transition from Justin Fields to first-year starting quarterback C.J. Stroud, who threw for 405 yards but also had two interceptions.
Smith-Njigba was the Buckeyes’ biggest weapon from the opening possession of Saturday’s win, with five receptions in the first quarter and seven in the first half. His biggest play was a 75-yard touchdown reception to give OSU a 10-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Before Saturday, Smith-Njigba’s single-game highs were seven receptions for 145 yards, both set in September’s non-conference loss to Oregon. He has now exceeded the 100-yard mark three times and blossomed since early October, with at least five receptions for at least 97 yards in each of the last four games.
The Rockwell, Texas, native was a five-star recruit and one of the top receiver prospects in the country in the 2020 recruiting cycle. Smith-Njigba chose the Buckeyes over offers from Notre Dame, TCU, Nebraska and others.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ohio State beats Nebraska: Jaxon Smith-Njigba has record-setting day