COLUMBUS — For the first time this season, No. 6 Ohio State’s offense was firing on all cylinders on Saturday in its final tuneup before the much-anticipated trip to Notre Dame. A 35-point explosion in the second quarter blew the game wide open, and two defensive scores in the second half provided the exclamation point as Ohio State breezed to a 63-10 over Western Kentucky.
Quarterback Kyle McCord completed 19 of his 23 attempts for 318 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters of work, and running back TreVeyon Henderson rushed 13 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns to lead Ohio State.
Fresh off a seven-catch, 160-yard performance a week ago, receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. was back to his prolific ways, hauling in five passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. Emeka Egbuka added a pair of touchdown receptions.
While the Ohio State offense was humming along as expected against an outmanned Western Kentucky defense, the Ohio State defense figured to be in for a challenge. Much was made of Western Kentucky’s pass-happy offensive approach leading up to the game, but quarterback Austin Reed and the Hilltoppers were relatively grounded throughout the day.
Reed completed just 57% of his passes for 207 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. He added 14 yards rushing on seven carries.
Ohio State was out and running quickly. For the third consecutive week, Ohio State scored on its opening possession. Henderson’s 21-yard touchdown run capped off an eight-play, 75-yard opening drive to give Ohio State an early 7-0 lead.
Western Kentucky cut into the lead with a 43-yard field goal late in the first quarter, but Henderson’s second rushing touchdown of the game pushed Ohio State ahead 14-3 with 10:53 left in the second quarter.
Reed’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Malachi Corley provided a quick answer for Western Kentucky, but the offensive onslaught from Ohio State in the second quarter was just about underway.
McCord found a wide-open Harrison for a 75-yard scoring strike to begin the avalanche of points, and Chip Trayanum’s 40-yard rushing touchdown added to the 28-10 Ohio State lead.
After Jordan Hancock forced a fumble by Western Kentucky’s Blue Smith, which was recovered by Davison Igbinosun, the Ohio State offense was back on the field to continue adding to the lead. Four plays later, Egbuka was strolling into the end zone after being on the receiving end of a 15-yard touchdown pass from McCord.
The duo of McCord and Egbuka connected again just before halftime, this time from 14 yards out, to send Ohio State into the halftime locker room with a 42-10 lead.
The 35 points were the most Ohio State had scored in a single quarter since matching that total against Miami in 2019.
Ohio State finished the half with 294 yards of total offense, including 271 passing yards from McCord and 66 yards rushing from Henderson. Harrison recorded four catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.
A third-quarter fumble by Davion Ervin-Poindexter, the third of the game for Western Kentucky, was recovered by Ohio State defensive lineman Tyleik Williams in the end zone late in the third quarter to increase the lead to 49-10.
After relieving McCord in the fourth quarter, Devin Brown got in on the scoring fun, dropping a perfect pass over the shoulder of Carnell Tate for a 28-yard touchdown and a 56-10 lead.
The score was the first career touchdown for both Brown and Tate and the only offensive points in the second half.
Freshman defensive back Jermaine Mathews Jr. rounded out the big day for Ohio State with his first-career interception, which he returned 58 yards to the end zone for a touchdown and an exclamation point on the emphatic win.
Following the game, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said his team’s performance was indicative of a team that had been pushed very hard in practice all week and needed to have a sense of urgency given what lies ahead.
“We needed to take the next step,” Day said. “We know what we’re about to jump into here in the middle of the season. We know we have to go on the road next week. That was a good week of work (this week). It started on Sunday. Tuesday was a really physical day. Wednesday was great. Thursday, we kept going at them. It was all week because we knew we had to turn this up, and we needed to build some momentum going into next week. I think you saw our team play like that today, and that’s what it’s got to be moving forward.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.