Before I get too gushy about Ohio St’s 42-0 win over Akron, let’s make this clear - Akron is not a good football team. Athlon Sports ranked them 116th out of 120 FBS schools. They are bad. All that being said, boy did the Buckeyes look tough this weekend. Braxton Miller looked good. Joe Bauserman looked really, really good. Terrelle who? True freshmen receivers Verlon Reed and Devin Smith played well, TE Jake Stoneburner had a career day, and Garrett Goebel and Andrew Sweat were all over the ball defensively. Again, it was only Akron, but you had to enjoy watching that game if you’re a Buckeyes fan.
Ohio St jumped right out of the gate, as Bauserman went 3-for-3 for 52 yards on their opening drive before channeling his inner Terrelle Pryor and running 15 yards for a score. He didn’t exactly look graceful on the scamper, but he did drop some Akron defenders with a couple of nice juke moves. Rod Smith was running the ball well on the Bucks’ second drive, but put the ball on the turf to give the Zips their only break of the game, which they of course didn’t capitalize on. Braxton Miller saw his first action on the next series, and promptly went three-and-out. Bowser was back at the helm the following possession, and led a fantastic 12-play, 62-yard drive. Stoneburner caught his first TD of the afternoon to cap it off. Later in the half, Drew Basil missed a 40-yard field goal and Andrew Sweat intercepted a pass to set up another Bauserman-to-Stoneburner score, giving the Buckeyes a 21-0 halftime lead. You’ll notice I didn’t mention the Akron offense at all, for good reason.
The second half was more of the same, with the first drive completing the Bowser/Stoneburner touchdown hat trick. That was all for Bauserman, as Braxton played out the duration. There wasn’t much going on the rest of the half, but with starting running back Carlos Hyde standing next to Bauserman at the water cooler, it was exciting to see the freshmen QB/RB combo of Miller and Rod Smith. The highlights came at the beginning of the 4th quarter when Miller hit another true freshman, Devin Smith, for a 14-yard score, and a 33-yard completion to Evan Spencer (yup, freshman) to set up Rod Smith’s first career TD. You’ll notice I didn’t mention the Akron offense at all, for good reason.
There are some very strong candidates for the Week 1 GB, but it’s got to go to QB Joe Bauserman. Let’s think about what Joe Bauserman has been told by Ohio St since he decided to no longer pursue his baseball career and instead play collegiate football in Columbus:
“Yeeeah, we got this Terrelle Pryor guy, he’s supposed to be pretty good. Just back him up for the next couple years and, fingers crossed, you’ll never take a meaningful snap.”
“Well, Terrelle is involved in a scandal (allegedly). You might have to start a few games while he’s suspended.”
“Uhh, Terrelle is no longer with us, but you’re in luck. We have a TP 2.0 coming in, so just push him during your ‘QB competition’ and split time at the beginning, before giving way to him when the games that matter come.”
I feel like something very similar to that, if not exactly word-for-word, took place. So what does JB do when he gets his first start since high school (which was back in 2003 due to his three seasons in minor league baseball)? Completes 12 of 16 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns while rushing six times for 32 yards and another score. Jake Stoneburner’s three scores and Luke Fickell’s first W as head coach also deserve some props.
It was a pretty meaningless week elsewhere in the conference. Iowa, Nebraska, Penn St, and Illinois all rolled against their FCS opponents, while Michigan St and Purdue actually struggled to get wins versus theirs. It could be worse, you could be Indiana - who lost to Ball State. Northwestern beat Boston College 24-7 in surely the conferences biggest win of the weekend. Minnesota put up a good fight, but fell to USC, 19-7.
I want to briefly touch on the other two games. On Thursday night, Wisconsin murdered UNLV, and boy did they look good doing it. Just like OSU, their opponent was far inferior, but yikes. RBs Montee Ball and James White look as good as advertised, and transfer QB Russell Wilson went ape shit for 317 total yards and three TDs in just over one half of football. Then, of course, there was michigan’s win against Western Michigan. The game was called due to lightning with the wolverines up 34-10, but it was a very unimpressive 24-point victory. They trailed 7-0 after the first quarter, and WMU left a lot of points on the table in that first half. While in the red zone, they missed two wide open touchdown passes before missing the FG attempt and coming away with zero points. The Broncos got near the goal line again, and threw an INT in the end zone which was brought back 90 some yards to complete the 14-point swing. Also, Ann Arbor is STILL a whore.
In addition to the suspensions of the “Tat-5” that we all knew about, RB Jordan Hall and DBs Travis Howard and Corey Brown were suspended days before the game for receiving impermissible benefits at a charity event. Ugh, and so it continues. The Buckeyes still rushed for 224 yards without Boom Herron, Jaamal Berry, and Hall, so there’s good news. The secondary also seemed fine, and all three of these players will be back next week, so no harm done when it comes to actual game play, but this is obviously not needed publicity for a program going through what they’re going through. At least they reported it this time.
With all of the suspensions along with several of last year’s starters graduating, there were a lot of new guys out there for the Buckeyes. I realized very quickly that while I recognize most of these names, I know very few numbers, which frustrated me to no end. It was awfully annoying to see a player make a play and not immediately know who it was. Looks like I’m going to have to study the depth chart this week. One guy I did notice making several plays that I don’t remember hearing about prior to the season was DL J.T. Moore (#50!). I’ll have to keep an eye on him.
With the success of this game, I bet you didn’t think I had a rant in me this week - think again. I can’t express enough how much I hate that ESPN doesn’t show the starting lineups at the beginning of games any more. Maybe I would recognize more numbers if they still showed them. This might be the dumbest decision ever made by ESPN telecasts other than taking Erin Andrews off the sidelines. A few years ago they stopped showing the starters by position with their pictures so they could show two or three “impact players” from each team instead, which was awful, but at least they scrolled the lineups across the top of the screen. Apparently they don’t even do that this year. Grow up, ESPN.
There’s one more Buckeye that deserves some praise for this week - punter Ben Buchanan. I tear this guy up (and deservingly so) when he porks, so it’s only fair to give him some props when he plays well. The Cannon was only called upon three times in this game, but all went inside the 20, including a great one downed at the nine. I wish I could say I was as impressed with Ohio St’s other kicker. I didn’t have a lot of faith in Drew Basil coming into the season, and his 40-yard shank in this one didn’t help matters. This could be a problem in 2011.
Up Next: Toledo (1-0), 12:00, Big Ten Network
While the Rockets are far from a powerhouse, they’re the favorites to win the MAC this year, which will produce some decent teams now and then, so don’t expect quite the same walk-through that Akron was. That being said, I also don’t expect to be worried at any point during this game. We should see a boost in the running game (although as I mentioned, it looked just fine against Akron) and probably more importantly the return game as the Buckeyes welcome back Jaamal Berry from injury (hopefully) and Jordan Hall from suspension. Expect a similar game plan for the QB position, with Bauserman getting the starting nod but Braxton seeing plenty of reps, possibly even a few more meaningful ones this time if the game stays closer later in the contest. Ohio St hasn’t dropped one to a fellow Ohio school since the Warren Harding administration, let’s keep that streak intact.
Prediction: Ohio St 33 Toledo 7
Tuesday, September 6