BALTIMORE — There might come a time when Ohio State coach Urban Meyer expands his playbook to include various long passes, reverses and bootlegs.
Until his young quarterback gains confidence and his line grows up, the No. 5 Buckeyes will likely count on the conservative game plan that proved good enough to beat Navy 34-17 Saturday.
Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns in his college debut as Ohio State earned its 25th consecutive regular-season victory.
"The best thing about this game," Meyer said, "is we won it and it's in our rearview mirror."
Starting after senior Braxton Miller injured his right shoulder two weeks ago, Barrett went 12-for-15, his 80-yard TD pass to Devin Smith putting the Buckeyes up 20-14 with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
"I thought J.T. did okay," Meyer said. "He was good. I never felt he was rattled."
Ohio State had only two field goals in the first half. Though Barrett threw an ill-advised interception, he wasn't entirely to blame for the poor showing.
"We wanted to open it up a little bit more in the first half but we didn't. It wasn't because of him; it was because of our offensive line," Meyer said. "There's a standard set for offensive line play for many, many years. It didn't resemble an offensive line at Ohio State the first two quarters."
Ohio State gave up 370 yards on the ground, 118 by Ryan Williams-Jenkins. But a Navy fumble turned into an OSU touchdown and a blown coverage assignment by the Midshipmen led to the pivotal 80-yard score.
"We had some uncharacteristic mistakes, and against a team like Ohio State you can't do that," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "We knew coming into the game we had to play perfect."
Barrett was the second freshman since 1950 to start an opener at quarterback for Ohio State. He ran nine times for 50 yards, did not throw downfield often and relied heavily on a ground game that wore down the Midshipmen in the fourth quarter.
"It was better at the end than the start," Barrett said.
no. 4 ou 55, la. tech 16: Trevor Knight passed for 252 yards and a touchdown and Keith Ford had 117 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns for the host Sooners. Oklahoma rolled to a 31-0 lead in the second quarter. Samaje Perine ran for 78 yards and a touchdown and Alex Ross ran for two scores for the Sooners. Zack Sanchez led Oklahoma's defense with an interception and a blocked field goal. Oklahoma linebacker Jordan Evans was ejected in the second quarter for targeting when he tried to make a play against quarterback Cody Sokol,
no. 11 Stanford 45, uc davis 0: Ty Montgomery returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown and caught five passes for 77 yards and a TD for the Cardinal. The All-American, who was cleared by team doctors last week after offseason right shoulder surgery, lined up all over the field, including once as a wildcat quarterback. With South Carolina's loss Thursday, Stanford now owns the nation's longest active home winning streak at 17 games. Stanford led 38-0 at the half and rested most of its starters from there as it tuned up for its next game, against Southern California. "Our opponents are nameless and faceless. It doesn't matter who we play. We have to play to our standard," Montgomery said, reciting the team motto. Stanford put together quick-strike touchdown drives of six seconds, nine seconds, 53 seconds, 2:58 and 6:55. Stanford's retooled defense allowed 115 total yards, forced three turnovers and sacked London Lacy four times. Division I-AA UC Davis didn't cross midfield until the final play.
no. 15 usc 52, fresno st. 13: Cody Kessler threw for 394 yards and four touchdowns as the host Trojans won in coach Steve Sarkisian's debut. Former Berkeley Prep star Nelson Agholor had five catches, scoring two first-half touchdowns. Southern Cal ran a school- and Pac-12 record 105 plays while racking up 37 first downs and 702 yards of total offense to Fresno State's 16 first downs and 315 yards. In all, 10 different Trojans caught passes in Sarkisian's up-tempo offense. Tailback Buck Allen led the USC ground attack with 133 yards on 22 carries.
no. 17 notre dame 48, rice 17: Everett Golson threw touchdown passes of 75 and 53 yards and ran for three touchdowns in his return after missing the 2013 season for academic impropriety, leading the host Irish. Golson was 14-of-22 passing for 295 yards and gained 41 yards on 12 carries. He also had two near-completions on long pass attempts. He scored on an 11-yard run on a planned keeper, a 14-yard scramble and a 4-yard run on a blown handoff. "Everett Golson was electric," coach Brian Kelly said. "He kept his eyes down field. He knew when to run. He knew when to throw it." Golson said it was the type of comeback he envisioned while spending a semester away. "That's what inspired me through all the training and all the days of me just working out by myself. I think that's what helped me get through it," he said. Because of privacy laws, Notre Dame never disclosed why Golson was suspended from school. Golson said only that he used "poor judgment on a test." Notre Dame played without five players on its roster, including three starters. The group is being investigated for possible cheating. But the Irish haven't let the situation affect them, Kelly said. "They care about their teammates. That's clear,'' he said. "But they also know that they are here at Notre Dame to get a degree and to play for Notre Dame and represent Notre Dame on the football field. So they have been really focused on their job and going out there. They have been really purposeful every single day."
no. 17 kansas st. 55, stephen F. Austin 16: Jake Waters threw for 223 yards and accounted for four TDs and Charles Jones ran for a pair of scores as the host Wildcats improved to 21-2 in openers under longtime coach Bill Snyder. Waters threw touchdown passes to Tyler Lockett and Kody Cook while also running for two TDs. Kansas State next travels to Iowa State to open Big 12 play. Then comes a statement game against sixth-ranked Auburn at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Around the nation
michigan 52, app. st. 14: Devin Gardner threw three touchdown passes to Devin Funchess in the first half and the host Wolverines routed the Mountaineers, seven years after being on the losing end of one of the biggest upsets in history. Running back Derrick Green said that motivated him and his teammates: "Just to get some revenge and payback." Appalachian State simply could not match up with Funchess, the first Wolverine to catch three TD passes in an opener. The 6-foot-4, 230-Funchess is lining up as a wide receiver after primarily playing tight end his first two seasons. Gardner's 92.8 completion rate (13-of-14 for 173 yards) tied for second best in Wolverines history.
n. dakota st. 34, iowa st. 14: John Crockett ran for 138 yards and three touchdowns and the visiting Bison, a Division I-AA power, won its 25th straight overall and fifth straight against Division I teams. Carson Wentz picked apart an inexperienced defense, going 18 of 28 for 204 yards with no interceptions. "We had a great training camp. We had great preparation for what we saw,'' Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. "We just got beat by a team that was better than us on August 30th. That's what happened."
cal 31, n'western 24: Jared Goff threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns, Jalen Jefferson had a key interception, and the visiting Golden Bears hung on after taking a 31-7 lead. The Wildcats got two touchdowns in a 25-second span late in the third and Jack Mitchell added a 24-yard field goal with 5:18 left to make it 31-24. With Northwestern on the California 27, Jefferson sacked Trevor Siemian for an 11-yard loss, and on the next play he picked off a tipped pass as the Golden Bears ended a 16-game losing streak against Division I-A opponents. The locker room scene afterward was wild. "It was haywire, hectic," Goff said. "We did the 'Bear Territory' chant about eight times. It was an unbelievable experience and I'm looking forward to more of them."