There wasn’t much to rejoice over the first quarter of the Urban Meyer era at Ohio State.
Urban Meyer's postgame presser after he wins his debut as OSU coach
The Buckeyes, hosting Miami (Ohio), had dropped passes on offense and missed assignments on defense. The RedHawks, who outgained OSU 172-48 in the first quarter, dropped a pair of apparent touchdown passes that could have staked them to a 14-0 lead.
But the 18th-ranked Buckeyes put it together with a 21-point second quarter and cruised from there, dropping Miami (Ohio) 56-10 in Meyer’s debut before 105,039 Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium.
“Obviously, we are very pleased with the win,” Meyer said. “Obviously the first quarter was very poor football on our end. But you also want to give credit where credit's due, and Miami did a really good job defending a certain formation that we ran out, which is a base formation. It’s concerning down the road and we need to make sure we make quicker adjustments, which we made some halftime adjustments.
“We were just a little disappointed in the first quarter. But after that, what a great day.”
Sophomore Braxton Miller opened his second season as OSU’s starting quarterback in a big way. After a 1-for-7 start, Miller ended up 14 of 24 passing for 207 yards and two touchdowns. He also carried the ball 17 times for a career-high 161 yards, including a breathtaking 65-yard touchdown scamper on the first play of the second half to stake OSU to a 28-3 lead.
“One of the things about Braxton Miller that I really had to see, and I did see today, is that the objective with Braxton is to make him from an athlete playing quarterback to a quarterback that manages the game,” Meyer said. “And a quarterback position is a unique position in all sports, where he's got to manage so much. He's got to manage basically the entire offense. He's got to stay positive, his leadership. He has to be a leader.”
Miller added, “I was absolutely comfortable. First quarter they threw a little trick at us and we fixed it. And after that we got rolling.”
Carlos Hyde got the start at tailback and carried 17 times for 82 yards and two touchdowns.
Devin Smith skies for the TD catch
“I'm disappointed that he didn't get 100 yards,” Meyer said of Hyde. “I thought he would. We were going to feature him a little bit today. Carlos Hyde, he's going to be our feature back.”
Philly Brown had seven catches for 87 yards and a touchdown, while Evan Spencer had three grabs for 54 yards. Devin Smith added an amazing one-handed, 23-yard touchdown catch for the Buckeyes, who ended up with an impressive 538 yards total offense.
Miami was led by senior quarterback Zac Dysert, who is on a mission to break Ben Roethlisberger’s school career passing mark. He completed 31 of 53 passes for 303 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions (both to OSU’s Travis Howard).
Receiver Nick Harwell had eight catches for 120 yards and one touchdown. Miami ran 74 plays and had just 20 rushing attempts, netting minus-1 yards on the ground.
The Buckeyes had the ball to start the game and picked up a first down before punting the ball away.
Miami hit a pair of big pass plays in the first quarter with Dysert finding Harwell for 42 yards and Dawan Scott for 58. It appeared that OSU corner Travis Howard allowed Harwell to get behind him on the 42-yard play. Miami moved inside the OSU 10 but had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Kaleb Patterson, which went wide right.
The Buckeyes then went three-and-out. On the next series, Dysert hit Scott down the middle for a 58-yard gain. Safety C.J. Barnett missed the tackle after the catch, leaving corner Bradley Roby to save the touchdown at the OSU 10. On third-and-5, Dysert rolled left and threw for a wide open Harwell in the back of the end zone. But he lost the ball coming down and it was ruled incomplete. Patterson’s 22-yard field goal put Miami up 3-0 with 5:06 left in the first quarter.
At this point, by all rights Miami could have been ahead 14-0. The Buckeyes then punted on their next two possessions before finding their rhythm in the second quarter.
“Well, that darned first quarter, I don't want to say I was embarrassed with the way we were playing,” Meyer said. “We worked so hard and we didn't play very well, in all phases. Defense let a couple of passes go that we shouldn't have.”
OSU took over on its own 17 yards and needed four plays to go the distance. Hyde started it with a 16-yard rumble. Miller then kept it for 6 yards. Miller then executed a play fake and threw down the middle for Brown for a 38-yard gain. On first down at the 23, Miller threw deep right for Smith. The receiver soared over Miami’s Dayonne Nunley and hauled the ball in with a one-handed grab for the touchdown and a 7-3 OSU lead with 13:49 left in the first half.
“I made the corner bite inside and I ran the fade,” Smith said. “I had to go over the top of him and when I looked back, it looked like the ball was going out of bounds. I just threw my hand up and caught it.”
Meyer was glad to see such an amazing individual effort ignite his team and the stadium.
“That was a wild moment,” the coach said. “And that was a moment that ignited the stadium. The stadium got quiet. Our sideline got quiet and we were waiting for a play to happen and he went out and made a play. That's football.”
The OSU defense forced a three-and-out and the Buckeyes got possession at their own 43. It took seven plays to cover the 57 yards here for a 14-3 lead. Miller hit Brown for 12 yards on a crossing route before he found Stoneburner for a 20-yard gain down to the Miami 8. On third-and-goal at the 5, Miller rolled right and hit Brown for a 5-yard touchdown and a 14-3 lead with 11:03 left in the first half.
Once again, the OSU defense forced a punt and the Buckeyes got possession on their own 27. OSU needed nine plays to go 73 yards for a touchdown that made it 21-3. Miller hit Brown for a 12-yard gain before he kept it for 33 yards down to the 9. Two plays later, Hyde followed the right side of his line into the end zone standing up for the 4-yard touchdown that made it 21-3 with 5:17 left in the first half.
Late in the half, Miller threw to Evan Spencer for a 44-yard gain down to the 1 with three seconds left. Meyer opted to run a play, but Hyde was stuffed short of the goal line as time expired in the half.
“I thought I was in,” Hyde said.
Meyer took a dim view of the play.
“Ohio State should be able to knock it in from the 1,” he said. “I almost forgot about that. Thanks for ruining my day. That's bad. That's absolutely nonnegotiable. Nonsense. And we'll hit that with a sledge hammer on Sunday. Because that can't happen. And I just flat looked at the linemen. I don't know what happened. I couldn't see.”
That’s OK, though, because OSU got the ball to start the second half. On the first play, Miller faked a give and went left on an option play. He kept it, cut inside and then down the left sideline. Miami’s Crishawn Dupuy missed a tackle attempt. MU’s D.J. Brown appeared to have an angle on Miller but he used a stop-and-start move to continue down the sideline for the 65-yard touchdown that made it 28-3 with 14:43 left in the third quarter.
A bad Miami punt snap was deflected into the end zone, where OSU’s Roby recovered for the touchdown that made it 35-3 with 12:41 left in the third quarter.
“That's our punt block unit and we're trying to create a lot of anxst in the long snapper and also the punter and knowing they're coming, and there's a lot coming,” Meyer said. “The guys that are coming are good players.”
Roby was ecstatic to record his first career touchdown.
“I rushed the punter, heard the crowd and figured something had happened,” he said. “I saw the ball and just went for it. I felt the ball and muscled it away from the others. I don’t know if it was my teammates or not, but I just wanted the ball.”
Miami rallied with Dysert hitting Harwell for a 45-yard touchdown, trimming the gap to 35-10 with 10:24 left in the third quarter.
OSU corner Travis Howard had a pair of second-half interceptions. The first one was forced by pressure from DE John Simon. The second one, Howard returned to the Miami 8. On first down there, Hyde went off left tackle and rumbled for the 8-yard TD run that made it 42-10 with 14:04 left in the game.
Fullback Zach Boren tacked on a 2-yard touchdown run for a 49-10 lead with 9:33 left.
“It was nice to be in the end zone,” Boren said. “I haven’t had a touchdown since my freshman year so it was cool to score again, but I really just want to do anything I can to help this team win, whether it means run the ball, block, or catch a pass.”
Freshman running back Brionte Dunn’s 4-yard TD run with 44 seconds left made it 56-10.
Moments later, the game was over and Meyer was officially 1-0 as the Ohio State head coach. He congregated with his players in the south end zone to sing Carmen Ohio with the band.
“I've been enjoying being Ohio State coach for about seven months now,” he said. “I don't want to deflate that moment. It's a great moment.
“I'm with a bunch of guys I care about. Love our players. Two guys next to me and (Garrett) Goebel's to my left, and I love that guy. There's a lot of guys on this team I have a lot of respect. And saying the alma mater, I'm a graduate and the fight song, that was a special moment. And we got to sing the fight song in the locker room as well.”
* The 56 points were the most for the Buckeyes since scoring 73 vs. Eastern Michigan in 2010.
* Howard’s two picks give him six in his OSU career. He became the first Buckeye to get two in a game since Chimdi Chekwa had two against Miami (Fla.) in 2010.
* Boren scored his second career touchdown and his first since catching a TD pass against Indiana as a freshman in 2009.
* Smith’s touchdown grab was the fifth of his career after scoring four last year as a freshman. Brown had career highs in receptions (seven) and receiving yards (87).
* LB Ryan Shazier led the Buckeyes with eight tackles.
* Miller tied Cornelius Green for the most 100-yard rushing games by an OSU quarterback with four. Miller’s 161 yards also beat Green’s single-game record of 146 yards against Wisconsin in 1974. (Terrelle Pryor’s seven 100-yard games were stricken from the OSU record book due to NCAA sanctions.)
* Players making their first career start for the Buckeyes included center Corey Linsley, wide receiver Devin Smith, defensive end J.T. Moore and safety Corey Brown. (Linebacker Curtis Grant was actually on the field for the first play, but when Miami was flagged for false start he was replaced by Brown.) Reid Fragel made his first career start at right tackle. He had started previously at tight end.
True freshmen making their debut on Saturday included OT Taylor Decker, LB Camren Williams, LB Joshua Perry, LB Jamal Marcus, OL Jacoby Boren, DL Adolphus Washington (who had a sack), DT Tommy Schutt, DL Noah Spence (who had a sack), RB Brionte Dunn, DB Najee Murray, CB Armani Reeves, LB David Perkins, DB Devan Bogard and WR Michael Thomas.
Redshirt freshmen who debuted included OL Chase Farris, OL Chris Carter, DB Ron Tanner, LS Bryce Haynes, LB Connor Crowell and tight end Nick Vannett.
* The last 22 Ohio State coaches are now 21-0-1 in their debuts. The last OSU coach to lose his first game was Jack Ryder, whose 1892 team lost its opener at Oberlin 40-4.
* Meyer is now 2-1 all-time against Miami (Ohio) as a head coach. That includes a 2001 loss when he was at Bowling Green (24-21) and a 2010 win when he was at Florida (34-12).
Meyer is also 11-0 in season openers as a college head coach.
* Ohio State has not lost a home opener in 34 years, dating to a 1978 loss to Penn State (19-0). All-time, the Buckeyes are 110-8-4 in home openers since 1890.
OSU has also won its last 13 season openers, dating to a 1999 loss to Miami (Fla.) (23-12) in the Kickoff Classic at East Rutherford, N.J.
* OSU has won 61 straight regular season nonconference home games against unranked teams. That string dates to a 1982 loss to Florida State.
* OSU is 181-48-15 all-time against opponents from the state of Ohio. Ohio State has not lost to an Ohio opponent since a 7-6 loss to Oberlin in 1921. Since then, OSU has posted a 43-0-1 mark against Ohio teams. That tie game was in 1924 against Wooster (7-7).
OSU did not play any Ohio teams for 58 years following a 76-0 win over Western Reserve in 1934. Bowling Green was signed as a late schedule replacement in 1992 and OSU took a 17-6 win in that game.
OSU has played at least one Ohio opponent every year since 1997. Since that 1992 BG game, Ohio State is 24-0 against Ohio teams and 21-0 against teams from the MAC.
* Ohio State ended the 2011 season on a four-game losing streak. OSU lost lost four games in a row in the same season for the first time since 1943, when the Buckeyes finished 3-6. OSU’s only other four-game losing streak in the same season occurred in 1922.
OSU has only lost five straight games over a two-year period one time in school history. It was in the school’s first two years of intercollegiate football with three losses to end the 1890 season and two to begin the 1891 year.
OSU ended up 6-7 last year for its first losing season since the 1988 team ended up 4-6-1.
* OSU improved to 5-0 all-time against Miami (Ohio), which is now 13-43-2 all-time against current members of the Big Ten. Miami has never faced Nebraska, Penn State or Wisconsin.
Miami has lost its last nine meetings with Big Ten opponents, including a 29-23 decision at Minnesota last year. That string dates to a 2003 win at Northwestern (44-14).
* Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a Miami (Ohio) graduate, was at the stadium for the first quarter and visited with the RedHawks in the locker room before the game.
* The Buckeyes host Central Florida (1-0) next Saturday at Ohio Stadium (noon, ESPN2). The Golden Knights will be returning to Ohio for the second time in nine days after blasting host Akron 56-14 on Thursday night.