By Mitch Stacy, AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Justin Fields threw four touchdown passes and ran for a score in his first game for Ohio State and the fifth-ranked Buckeyes rolled over FAU 45-21 on Saturday in the season opener.
Fields, the five-star transfer from Georgia, made it look easy early, engineering touchdowns on Ohio State’s first four drives. Despite some occasional rookie mistakes that caused the Buckeyes’ offense to sputter in the second and third quarters, Fields finished 18 for 25 for 234 yards and a 51-yard touchdown run.
Tight end Jeremy Ruckert caught two touchdown passes, and Binjimen Victor and Chris Olave also had scoring grabs.
“I thought we came out to a great start early on, kind of clicking on both sides of the ball,” Ohio State’s Ryan Day, in his first season as Buckeyes’ head coach. “We hit a little bit of a lull there, but overall a great start. We wanted to play clean.”
Meanwhile, Florida Atlantic had trouble generating anything good until putting together a 75-yard drive in the fourth quarter for its first touchdown of the game.
Chris Robison finished 22 for 34 for 178 yards for the Owls. FAU was held to just 22 yards on the ground by a revamped Ohio State defense that was coming off a down season.
“If you play a top-five team like that, you have to do everything right just to have a chance,” FAU coach Lane Kiffin said.
FAU: The Owls had trouble keeping up with Ohio State’s better athletes but mustered enough momentum for a couple of long fourth-quarter scoring drives after the game was already out of hand.
Ohio State: Fields’ numbers look great, but he made his share of gaffes that led to the offense getting stuck. The first-team defense was excellent, holding FAU to a total of minus-14 yards in the first half. But against this opponent, it was hard to tell how good the Buckeyes really are.
By doing what they were expected to do against a weaker team, Ohio State likely won’t budge in the poll.
FAU: The Owls won’t get a break as they host No. 17 Central Florida, which routed Florida A&M 62-0 on Thursday.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes get their first real test of the season next week against in-state rival Cincinnati, which took down UCLA 24-14 in their opener on Thursday night.