COLUMBUS, Ohio – The second-half Buckeyes finally evolved into what they’ve wanted to be all season on Saturday: The first-half Buckeyes.

Ohio State, the No. 1 team in the Playoff rankings, scored 14 points faster than it has all season in a 38-3 domination of unranked Michigan State.

Marvin Harrison Jr. scored on a 19-yard reverse and then on a 26-yard pass from Kyle McCord for a 14-0 lead with 6:56 left in the first quarter. And the Buckeyes kept rolling with 3 second-quarter touchdowns, including another one by Harrison, for a 35-3 halftime lead.

“That’s the start we’ve been shooting for all year, getting out of the gate and putting points on the board and being consistent that entire half,” McCord said.

Player of the Week: Quarterback Kyle McCord

McCord’s inconsistent past was replaced Saturday by his best half and best game this season. He threw for 263 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first half and a career-high 335 yards while completing 24 of 31 passes.

McCord showed signs of this progress in last week’s win at Rutgers. Against Michigan State he was sharp, on time and on target more than in any game this season.

Biggest surprise: A boring second half

The Buckeyes’ slow starts kept every Big Ten game and the Notre Dame interesting in the second half. This time Day subbed early and often after the break.

He said had it been September he would have played all the starters longer. But in November, with the Michigan game 2 weeks away, he rested starters for most of the half. The Buckeyes scored only 3 points and the stands were almost empty by the final minutes.

Biggest concern: Defensive health

The Buckeyes were missing 3 starters. Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg, the team’s top tackler and a Butkus Award candidate, suffered an arm injury late in the Rutgers game last week. Safety Josh Proctor, who has made big plays all season, was knocked out of last week’s game on a collision. Head coach Ryan Day said neither injury is long term.

Safety Lathan Ransom, however, missed another game and his injury is considered more long term. However, he has not been ruled out for the season.

Developing trend: Marvin Harrison Jr. Heisman moments

Harrison’s touchdown run was the first of his career and his favorite score of the game. His first touchdown catch was the kind of over-the-shoulder catch as he went out of bounds that he makes look easy. The third was a 9-yard slant that the defender had no chance of stopping.

Key stat: Marvin Harrison Jr. receiving yards

Harrison caught 7 passes for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns. Those yards set 1 school record and tied another.

Harrison became the first Ohio State receiver with 2 1,000-yard seasons. And his 14th 100-yard game tied David Boston for most by a Buckeye. Seven of those games have come this season.

First impressions about Week 12

Minnesota, 4 p.m. ET Saturday (BTN): The Golden Gophers  (5-5) lost their second straight, falling 49-30 at Purdue. They make their first trip to Ohio State since 2018.

This is the final tune-up for the Nov. 25 trip to No. 3 Michigan that will determine the B1G East’s representative in the Big Ten championship game.