COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State has officially moved on from its painful loss to Virginia Tech.
J.T. Barrett matched a school record with six touchdown passes — five in the first half — to lead the 22nd-ranked Buckeyes to a 66-0 victory over Kent State on Saturday.
The win was the 39th in a row over an in-state opponent for the Buckeyes (2-1), who haven’t lost since a 7-6 setback to Oberlin in 1921.
Nick Holley had six receptions for Kent State (0-3), which got $850,000 to get pounded before a crowd of 104,404 at Ohio Stadium.
Now the Buckeyes, who plummeted 14 spots in the polls and weathered a lot of criticism after last week’s 35-21 loss at home to the Hokies, have a bye week before hosting Cincinnati on Sept. 27.
Curtis Samuel ran for two touchdowns and Smith ran for one and also caught a TD pass for the Buckeyes, who totaled 628 yards of offense while limiting Kent State to 126.
It was the third meeting between the teams, with Ohio State winning by an average score of 55-7.
A redshirt freshman who took over when three-year starting quarterback Braxton Miller was lost for the year with a shoulder injury, Barrett finished 23 of 30 for 312 yards with an interception. He became the first Ohio State quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards since Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith did against Michigan in 2006.
The Golden Flashes hadn’t given up 60 points in a game since a 63-21 loss to Connecticut in 2002. The game represented Kent State’s most lopsided loss since a 56-0 defeat at Miami (Ohio) in 1998.
The Buckeyes scored early and often against the overmatched Flashes, who came in as 32-point underdogs.
A week after permitting Barrett to be sacked seven times, Ohio State’s line had no difficulty protecting him — not allowing a sack — and opening huge holes for rushers.
Kent State wore No. 54 stickers on the side of their helmets in memory of teammate Jason Bitsko. The fourth-year junior was set to be the team’s starting center when he died unexpectedly in August. Paul Haynes, in his second season with the Golden Flashes, was an assistant at Ohio State for seven seasons before taking the top job at the Mid-American Conference school.
The first series of the second half provided one of the best highlights — the football version of a fire drill. Anthony Melchiori’s punt was blocked by Ohio State’s Jeff Greene, with teammate Ron Tanner picking up the loose ball and running. But he was caught from behind by Matthew Somers, who stripped the ball, which was recovered by Kent State’s Steve Nagy. Six players touched the ball before the ball ended up at the Golden Flashes 2, a loss of 32 yards.
Moments later, the Buckeyes forced a punt and then scored on Barrett’s shovel pass to Jalin Marshall for three yards for a 52-0 lead. His sixth TD pass tied Kenny Guiton’s mark set a year ago against Florida A&M.
Colin Reardon completed 14 of 27 passes for 76 yards with three interceptions for Kent State, with Nathan Strock 1 of 7 for 3 yards.
The first half took almost two hours — with most of that time spent celebrating Buckeyes touchdowns.
Barrett, who came in with three passing TDs in the first two games, completed 21 of 28 passes for 297 yards. The scoring passes covered 14 and 63 yards to Michael Thomas, 8 yards to Rod Smith, 2 yards to Marcus Baugh and 50 yards to Devin Smith. Smith also ran for a 1-yard score.
The Golden Flashes, now 1-25 against ranked opponents, mustered just 109 yards in the opening half, with Reardon and Strock combining to complete 10 of 22 passes with a pair of interceptions. They ran just two plays in Ohio State territory — by that time they were down 31-0 in the second quarter — before a false-start penalty and a Darron Lee sack cost them 12 yards and led to yet another punt.
Kent State punted 11 times — and the Buckeyes did just once.