NORMAN, Okla. — Noah Brown’s circus catch summed up Ohio State’s victory over Oklahoma.
Even when Sooners were in the right place, things went the Buckeyes’ way.
In the closing seconds of the first half, Noah Brown reached around Michiah Quick and held onto Quick and a pass from J.T. Barrett while falling out of bounds for a 21-yard touchdown reception.
“I did see it when I caught it,” Brown said. “When I had it behind his back, I was just thinking, ‘Just hold on until I get to the ground and try to make this play,’ and I was able to do it.”
Brown, who entered the game with five catches and one touchdown in his career, tied a school record with four touchdown receptions as No. 3 Ohio State rolled past No. 14 Oklahoma 45-24 on Saturday night.
“Anytime J.T. puts the ball in the air, he’s putting trust in me, and I try to come down with the ball for him,” Brown said. “I have my quarterback’s back. It felt good to be able to make that play and put some points on the board.”
Barrett passed for 152 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 74 yards for the Buckeyes (3-0), a team that lost 16 starters from last year’s squad and was playing in a hostile environment for the first time this season.
“This was the coming-of-age game,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “I just made a comment earlier about that, I took a deep breath and as I just watched our guys be on the buses, I thought, ‘My gosh, this is a young team.’ This was for a lot of them their first road experience. I’m very proud of them.”
Mike Weber ran for 123 yards, pacing an attack that pounded out 291 yards rushing in a game that started 90 minutes late because of a storm.
“Our inability to stop the run …They got us out of a lot of our stuff and made it a physical game, and we didn’t react well to it,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said.
Oklahoma (1-2), which lost its opener to Houston, was in desperate need of a big win to keep its hopes of returning to the College Football Playoff alive. Instead, a school-record home crowd of 87,979 watched the Sooners get dominated for most of the night. Ohio State led 35-17 at halftime.
Now, the Sooners turn their focus to Big 12 play.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do if we’re going to win the Big 12,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “We’ll keep a positive attitude. We’ll keep working to improve and do our best to have a better showing when we get back on the field in a couple of weeks.”
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield passed for 226 yards and two touchdowns, but he threw two interceptions.
Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel broke loose for a 36-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1 to open the scoring. The Buckeyes threatened to break the game open when Jerome Baker scored on a 68-yard interception return, but Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon returned the kickoff 97 yards for a score.
Ohio State seized momentum for good when Marshon Lattimore intercepted a pass by Mayfield, then Brown caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Barrett on the next play to give the Buckeyes a 28-10 lead.
OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes are a threat to win the national title, and Barrett showed why he’s near the top of Heisman Trophy watch lists. “We know what we’re capable of,” Brown said. “We’re not really worried too much about any other doubters. We’re 3-0 and have a chance to go 4-0, keep it rolling.”
OKLAHOMA: Mayfield continues to get himself into trouble by forcing throws. His coaches criticized him for that after the loss to Houston, and he appeared to have fixed the problem against Louisiana-Monroe before regressing against the Buckeyes.
Ohio State strengthened its position, especially with No. 2 Florida State getting blown out by Louisville. The win gave the Buckeyes confidence. “They’re no longer inexperienced,” Meyer said. “We went on the road and played at Oklahoma. It has to be one of the top-five hardest places to play.”
Oklahoma will be fortunate to remain in the top 20. “We need to look at what we’re trying to do and get our best 11 players on the field that gives us the best chance of winning,” Mike Stoops said. “I think that would be a good place to start.”
OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes have a bye week before they host Rutgers on Oct. 1.
OKLAHOMA: The Sooners have a bye week before playing at TCU on Oct. 1.
AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter @CliffBruntAP .