Tuesday, October 9

Buckeyes turn shootout into blowout in front of record crowd

With just over two minutes gone in the second half, Ohio St and Nebraska had combined for 66 points, with the Buckeyes holding a slim four-point advantage. Then after a Carlos Hyde touchdown, Philly Brown made like Gwen Stefani in 2000 and left no doubt with a 76-yard punt return for a score. Rod Smith and Hyde would each add another touchdown before the Buckeyes left Ohio Stadiume with a 63-38 win over the Cornhuskers.

A Horseshoe-record crowd of 106,102 were in attendance to see the Urban Meyer Buckeye offense finally break loose against the Blackshirts - the 63 points given up being a record-high for a Bo Pelini-coached team.

Braxton Miller only had to throw 14 passes, as the offensive line played out-of-this-world, opening up holes for Miller and Hyde to run through all day. The two talented Buckeyes took full advantage of the stellar play by the hogmollies in front of them, as Brax broke his own school rushing record for a QB by busting loose for 186, and Carlos set career marks in carries (28), yards (140), and touchdowns (4).

The defense was still missing too many tackles, but continued to make big plays as they intercepted Taylor Martinez three times, including a pick-six from Bradley Roby when the Ohio St offense was sputtering early on.

Miller has looked spectacular at times this season, but I think we were all waiting for the Buckeye offense to put a complete game together and really break out, and this was it. The fact that this kid is still only a sophomore and still learning has to scare the living shit out of foes. "I'm learning every week," Miller said. "They're throwing new stuff at us every week. I'm just trying to get it all down pat." Mission accomplished this week, son.

Game Recap
Ohio St’s offense came out ultra-sluggish again in this one, which has to be the most worrisome thing about this game for me, as this is starting to become a common theme. The Bucks didn’t manage a single first down while only gaining 17 yards on 13 plays and punting on all four of their first quarter possessions. Thankfully, Bradley Roby, who vowed early in the week to get his first interception of the season, picked off Martinez and took it 41 yards to the barn for a 7-0 Ohio St lead. Rex Burkhead answered with a 73-yard run to set up Ameer Abdullah’s score to tie the game. Abdullah followed that up with a big return on Ben Buchanan’s next punt and finished the drive himself with his second TD of the quarter to give the Huskers a 14-7 lead after one.

As poorly as the Buckeye offense played in the first quarter, that’s how flawless they played in the second. They put up 242 yards in this frame, scoring touchdowns on all four drives. Before they could do that, Burkhead carried Nebraska down inside the 10 but a Ryan Shazier sack forced a Brett Maher field goal to give NU a 10-point lead.

Upon getting the ball for the first time in the 2nd quarter, Miller completely juked out Husker lineman Courtney Osborne in the backfield before streaking down the sideline for a 72-yard run. Unfortunately, Brax once again had to limp off the field after this run and was replaced by Kenny Guiton. Just as he did when he came in for #5 last week, Guiton simply handed the ball off to Carlos Hyde twice in a row, the second carry resulting in the first Ohio St offensive touchdown of the game.

With the lead down to three, Martinez tried to force one and ended up throwing the ball directly to Roby, who gladly accepted his second INT of the half. Miller came back in and took advantage of the short field, hitting TE Jeff Heuerman two plays later to put the Buckeyes back on top, 21-17. Nebraska continued the see-saw battle when Martinez hit his top target, Kenny Bell, for a 74-yard strike before running it in himself from 9 yards out on the next play. No play exemplified the poor tackling by OSU more than this one, as Taylor bounced off four different Buckeyes on his way to the end zone.

Next was Ohio St’s turn again, when Miller took them on a 10-play, 75-yard drive, capped off by Hyde’s 7-yard score. The big play on the drive came when Braxton connected with another tight end, Nick Vannett, for 32 yards. A Nebraska holding penalty on the kickoff pinned them back, and the defense finally held when the Buckeyes forced a three-and-out and got the ball back in great field position. On fourth-and-two from the Nebraska 31 with less than a minute remaining in the half, Meyer opted to go for it. Miller ran an option to the right side, knowing the whole time he was going to keep it and daring a Cornpeeler to stop him. They did not, and Braxton was off to the races for an easy 31-yard TD. Ohio St’s dominating quarter left them a 35-24 halftime lead.

Nebraska took the ball to start the second half and wasted no time, heading right down the field and getting a touchdown grab from TE Ben Cotton to bring the Buckeye advantage down to four. After rushing for over 100 yards in the first half, Rex Burkhead injured his left knee during this drive and did not return. Ohio St responded immediately, as Hyde brought home the hat trick with another 1-yard plunge. Storm Klein’s sack of Martinez forced another Husker three-and-out, and this time the explosive Philly Brown brought the return back 76 yards to paydirt for the largest lead of the game at 49-31.

Martinez was directing a solid drive on the ensuing possession, but Orhian Johnson’s interception near the goal line basically put the game away. In the 4th quarter, Rod Smith took one of his two carries in the contest 33 yards for a score. Martinez answered with a rushing TD of his own, but it was far too little, too late at this point. John Simon’s sack/forced fumble later in the quarter resulted in Hyde’s fourth score of the game, completing the scoresheet of this 63-38 Buckeye victory.

Game Ball
Hyde’s career night, the magnificent play of the O-line, and Roby’s big plays should not go unnoticed, but Braxton Miller was straight dirrty in this game. He only completed seven passes, but the game plan here obviously wasn’t to throw on these guys. Meyer wanted to utilize his team’s speed and showcase his spread offense, and Miller excelled at it. Brax rushed for 186 yards on only 16 carries, averaging a stupid 11.6 ypc. Plus, limited throwing or not, you do have to like his 1 TD/0 INT line. Miller and Martinez came into this game with the reputation of being explosive players with big-play tendency, and neither disappointed (Martinez finished with 250+ total yards and 3 touchdowns). The difference, as it usually is, was the turnover battle with Miller trumping Martinez, 3-0.
Game balls to date: Miller (2), Meyer, Hankins, Roby, Howard

Big Ten
Other than this OSU/Nebraska battle, the biggest game in the conference didn’t involve the usual suspects, but instead happened in Happy Valley when Penn St scored 22 unanswered in the 4th quarter to top previously unbeaten Northwestern. Matt McGloin has looked super sharp the past few weeks and if you haven’t watched WR Allen Robinson play this year, do yourself a favor and do so - this guy has NFL first-rounder written all over him. With Michigan St and Nebraska already in the books and Wisconsin looking very beatable, Ohio St’s trip to Beaver Stadium suddenly appears to be the toughest game left on the slate. (Yeah, I said it.)

The other three contests all saw the favorite topple a weaker team, although in Michigan St’s case it was much tougher than expected as they had to erase a 17-0 deficit to beat Indiana, 31-27. Wisconsin easily took care of business against Illinois and can’t-tie was setting records of his own in rushing for 235 yards while michigan destroyed Purdue.

Injury Update
I hate making this a weekly part of my recap, but the injury bug struck Ohio St yet again as LB Etienne Sabino broke a bone in his right leg and will miss a minimum of three weeks. The injury to the senior captain leaves the Buckeyes awfully thin at linebacker, a position that was lacking depth to begin with. Storm Klein and Ryan Shazier are the only two experienced players left in the middle, along with a slew of green freshman. Joshua Perry is slated to get the start with David Perkins, Jamal Marcus and Camren Williams also expected to contribute.

You can expect the Bucks to play a lot more Nickel defense in Sabino’s absence, a package that should get a boost this week with the return of S C.J. Barnett. Barnett dressed for the first time in three weeks against Nebraska but didn’t see the field. RB Jordan Hall remains doubtful, so expect another heavy workload for Carlos Hyde.

Up Next: @Indiana (2-3, 0-2), 8:00, Big Ten Network
Ohio St has tallied 17 straight W’s against the Hoosiers, having not dropped a game to them in 24 years. Even with starting QB Tre Robinson breaking his leg and being out for the season, Indiana continues to be a pass-happy offense. Cameron Coffman threw the ball 48 times against Michigan St last week and will get his third consecutive start in Robinson’s absence.

IU’s run defense is one of the worst in the nation, which doesn’t bode well for them facing an Ohio St team averaging 250 yards per game on the ground. I don’t expect Braxton to be running anywhere near the amount of times he has in the past two games as it most likely won’t be as necessary, so Carlos Hyde should approach 25 carries again with a little more Rod Smith than we’ve seen in recent weeks. As long as there’s no letdown after two straight big victories, this should be over by halftime.
Prediction: Ohio St 39 Indiana 14


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