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Ohio State rebounds, crushes Kent State

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State and quarterback J.T. Barrett made sure right from the opening drive that there would be no repeat of last week.

After a stunning loss at home to Virginia Tech, the No. 22 Buckeyes took it to overmatched in-state opponent Kent State in a big way. The Buckeyes scored on seven of their eight first-half possessions and rolled to a 66-0 victory before 104,404 on Saturday in Ohio Stadium.

Barrett, a redshirt freshman in his third start as the replacement for injured Braxton Miller, turned in the best performance of his young career by far.

A week after completing only nine of 29 passes against Virginia Tech, Barrett connected on 23 of 30 for 312 yards and a school record-tying six touchdowns with one interception.

Barrett became the first Ohio State quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards in a game since Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith had 316 yards against Michigan in 2006.

“Early in that first half, we wanted him to throw a lot,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “We wanted to force him to make plays — not just him but the receivers — and I thought he did good.”

In the first half alone, Barrett was 21 of 28 for 297 yards and five touchdowns, after throwing three scoring passes in the first two games.

Barrett hit on two big plays in the second quarter — a 63-yard touchdown hookup with wide receiver Michael Thomas and a 50-yarder to wide receiver Devin Smith — and began the third quarter with a 3-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Jalin Marshall.

Soon after that, Barrett retired for the afternoon with a 300-yard passing day that not even Miller, the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, reached in the last three seasons.

After the painful 35-21 loss a week ago to Virginia Tech, which stings even more after the Hokies were upset Saturday by East Carolina, Meyer liked the way the Buckeyes (2-1) responded.

“This is what the doctor ordered when you do have young people you need to get ready to play,” Meyer said.

The entire Ohio State offense was clicking against defenseless Kent State, coached by former Buckeyes assistant Paul Haynes.

Barrett completed passes to 11 receivers. Thomas caught two of those, boosting his season total to four in three games. Running back Curtis Samuel rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries and added four catches for 40 yards.

Ohio State punted only once, with 6:05 left, and finished with 628 yards.

“A noon game against a MAC school, there’s a tendency to have zero enthusiasm and energy in the stadium and that wasn’t the case at all,” Meyer said.

The defense was just as dominant as the offense.

The Buckeyes kept the Golden Flashes (0-3) from making it past midfield and held Kent State’s offense to 126 total yards and had three interceptions. Running back Nick Holley had 34 yards rushing on six carries and caught six passes for 37 yards for Kent State.

“The effort was good,” Meyer said. “Once again, not taking anything away from Kent, our opponent, but we obviously overmatched them a little bit, and I wanted to see what I saw, and it seemed like they had a hard time moving the ball on us, which should happen.”

Ohio State came out intent on making amends for the Virginia Tech disappointment, scoring on three of their four possessions in the first quarter. Kent State was overwhelmed by the talent disparity on both sides of the ball.

“They have good athletes and we have to give them credit,” Kent State safety Nate Holley said. “Fundamentally we were not sound, though. There were things we needed to do, like wrap up or keep our eyes up. We didn’t do that. But then again, we were playing some good dudes.”

The Buckeyes wasted no time, scoring on their first possession. Barrett connected with Thomas on a crossing route for a 14-yard touchdown. Running back Rod Smith scored the next two touchdowns on an 8-yard pass from Barrett and a 1-yard run as Ohio State established a 21-0 lead only 13:12 into the game.

“We will be a good football team, but right now we are not showing it,” Haynes said. “We have to get better at the little things, and we will continue to do that.”

NOTES: Ohio State TE Jeff Heuerman sat out Saturday’s game to rest a foot injury that has bothered him since the preseason. TE Marcus Baugh returned after a two-game suspension. … Kent State wore a No. 54 decal on its helmets in memory of C Jason Bitsko, who died in his sleep in August. … The college football future of suspended DE Noah Spence of Ohio State is uncertain after he tested positive a second time for the banned stimulant Ecstasy. The All-Big Ten an Academic all-conference performer apologized Saturday and said he will seek treatment. “That was a sucker punch,” coach Urban Meyer said. … Ohio State raised its record to 30-1 all time against Mid-American Conference schools. … The Buckeyes’ 66 points were the most scored against an in-state school since a 76-0 win over Western Reserve in 1934.

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