Haskins feels like he’s playing a video game on field for Buckeyes

Ohio State quarterback now second favorite to win the Heisman

In an effort to slow the Dwayne Haskins hype train, which has gained speed every week in September, Ohio State Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer called his quarterback Saturday night on his way home from Ohio Stadium after a 49-6 victory over Tulane.

Meyer had a simple message for Haskins: Stay focused.

“We’ve had some pretty high-profile guys around here, and I’ve seen it,” Meyer said. “One thing about Columbus, Ohio is this is the show, and they become bigger than life. He’s a very humble guy. He’s a very conscientious guy, comes from a great family. He’s been great so far.”

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Haskins has completed 87 of 115 passes for 1,194 yards. He ranks second in the nation in completion percentage (75.7), second in touchdown passes (16) and third in quarterback rating (207.04).

Twice in the first four weeks, Haskins has won the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award. He has 5-1 odds to win the Heisman Trophy, trailing only Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Everything has come easy to Haskins in the first third of the regular season.

“When I’m playing, I feel like I’m playing a video game,” Haskins said. “I see the field. I see the receivers. It’s like no one’s there.”

Haskins redshirted as a freshman in 2016 and served as the backup to J.T. Barrett last season. Even after his performance at Michigan last November, when he rallied the Buckeyes in the second half after Barrett suffered a knee injury, Haskins didn’t win the starting job. He had to beat out Joe Burrow and Tate Martell in the spring.

Now Haskins has to prove himself in a true road game for the first time. The No. 4 Buckeyes (4-0, 1-0) play at No. 9 Penn State (4-0, 1-0) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Haskins passed his first big test by engineering a second-half comeback in a 40-28 victory against Texas Christian on the road. He doesn’t think winning at AT&T Stadium will give him much of an advantage when it comes to this game.

“There’s nothing like Happy Valley,” Haskins said. “Nothing really helps.”

Haskins was a freshman the last time Ohio State played in State College, Pa. He was on the sideline when the Buckeyes lost 24-21 in 2016. That defeat kept Ohio State out of the Big Ten championship game.

“I didn’t play,” he said, “but I was upset we lost that game.”

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Haskins remembers the atmosphere in front of a sold-out, white-out crowd and expects the same this weekend.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re ranked or unranked or winning games or losing games,” Haskins said. “They can win at any time in that stadium. You’ve got to play your best when you play there. I look forward to every game, but a game like this just makes everything that much more worth it. I’m definitely excited to play in Happy Valley on Saturday. I know a bunch of players on that team. Me and Trace (McSorley) used to work out together back in high school. To have an opportunity to compete against him blow for blow, I’m excited for it.”


Ohio State at Penn State, 7:30 p.m., ABC, 1410

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