Noah Ruggles kicked four field goals for the second straight game for the struggling Ohio State offense Saturday to help the No. 5 Buckeyes hold on to defeat Nebraska 26-17 in Lincoln, Neb.
Ohio State (8-1, 6-0 Big Ten) led 17-10 at the half and Ruggles made field goals of 46 and 35 yards in the third quarter to increase the lead to 23-10.
Nebraska (3-7, 1-6) responded with a 75-yard drive to pull to within 23-17 in the final minute of the third quarter on a 1-yard keeper by Adrian Martinez, one play after a 53-yard catch by Somari Toure.
But that would be as close as the Cornhuskers could get even though they got the ball back and reached the OSU 13-yard line before Chase Contreraz missed a 31-yard field goal.
Ohio State made it a two-possession game when Ruggles added a 46-yard field goal with 1:29 remaining, which made it 26-17. The graduate transfer from North Carolina is 15 for 15 this season.
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud was 36 of 54 for 405 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
His favorite target was Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who had one TD while setting a school record with 15 receptions that totaled 240 yards, second-most in school history.
Martinez was 16 for 31 for 248 yards, a touchdown and an interception, which ended Nebraska’s last drive at midfield with 56 seconds remaining. Toure had four catches for 150 yards.
Nebraska, which had lost each of its previous six losses this season by one score, played the Buckeyes tight throughout.
Ohio State was held scoreless in the first quarter for the second time this season, the other being in the 35-28 loss to Oregon in the second game.
A 26-yard field goal by Ruggles at 1:25 of the second quarter gave the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead and a 2-yard TD pass to Chris Olave made it 10-0 6:41 before halftime.
Nebraska made it 10-3 on a 39-yard field goal from Contreraz before the teams swapped explosive scores.
First, Smith-Njigba caught a 75-yard pass for Ohio State with 3:34 left in the half, then Toure’s 72-yard reception for the Cornhuskers 41 seconds later made it 17-10.
–Field Level Media