Those offensive explosions that Ohio State fans have only been able to watch in other games on television this season, well, one of those happened at Ohio Stadium Saturday night.
Meyer after the win
When the dust settled, No. 12 Ohio State remained unbeaten with a 63-38 win over No. 21 Nebraska before a stadium record crowd of 106,102.
In a year where Ohio State can’t win the Big Ten championship or go to a bowl game, the Buckeyes are slowly stamping themselves as one of the nation’s best teams. They should move into the top 10 in the Associated Press poll on Sunday after hitting the halfway point in their quest for an unbeaten season.
“We’re trying to go 12-0, win every single game,” said OSU cornerback Bradley Roby, who returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown. “We’re trying to get that AP No. 1 and win a national championship.
“They can’t take that away from us.”
Quarterback Braxton Miller carried 16 times for a career-best 186 yards and a touchdown. He also completed 7 of 14 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown for the Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0).
“I'm learning every week,” Miller said. “They throw new stuff at us every week. So just trying to get it down pat. I don't believe this is what it can be capable of. I think it can be better. We made a couple minor mistakes out there. We'll watch film tomorrow. So I'll say we've got a lot more to do.”
Miller was injured in OSU’s 34-27 loss at Nebraska last year, when the Buckeyes blew a 21-point lead.
“I wasn't really looking at it like that,” Miller said. “I just came out there, do the deal, do what we have to do and keep moving the ball down the field.”
Running back Carlos Hyde had 140 yards with a career-high four touchdowns on 28 carries.
“I have to give all the credit to the offensive line,” Hyde said. “If they didn’t do their job, we wouldn’t have been able to run for 300-plus yards. They were great tonight.”
Philly Brown also had a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown for the Buckeyes.
“We have a quarterback obviously that's kind of ridiculous running the ball, and then Carlos Hyde is a guy that is starting to earn a lot of respect, other than that darn fumble,” said OSU coach Urban Meyer. “But he's running hard. And then Rod Smith came in and pounded it, too.
“So you can see what we are. We're kind of a pound ya offense right now. I don't mind that. I've not had a lot of those. But that's a pound ya offense.”
Quarterback Taylor Martinez also had a huge night as well for Nebraska (4-2, 1-1), completing 15 of 25 passes for 214 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. Martinez also carried 18 times for 40 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back Rex Burkhead had 119 yards on 14 carries, while Ameer Abdullah had a pair of short touchdown runs for the Huskers
It was a hot and cold night for the OSU defense. They victimized Martinez for those three interceptions with two by corner Bradley Roby and one by safety Orhian Johnson. Roby returned one of his for the game’s first touchdown.
Defensive end John Simon had two sacks, a forced fumble and five tackles-for-loss for the Buckeyes. Linebacker Ryan Shazier led OSU with 11 tackles and also had one sack and two TFLs.
But the Buckeyes were also torched for a pair of 70-plus yard plays by the Huskers.
“We saw a lot of opportunities to make big plays because he's a really good quarterback, but he loves to run the ball,” Shazier said of Martinez. “His feet are his main weapon and his arm the secondary weapon, and we took advantage of it today. And we saw some things we could jump on and some kind of pass combination that we could take advantage of.”
The teams combined for 101 points, 40 first downs and OSU outgained NU 498-437 in total yardage.
Meyer said he likes where his team is at – and where they are headed as well.
“I've also been doing this long enough to realize you have a bad week, you have a bad night tonight, you have a bad something, I don't want to be the downer, but we're not there. We have a long way to go,” Meyer said.
“And the good thing is these guys know it and they're anxious to get into work tomorrow. To a man, they said that tonight. They can't wait to get to work tomorrow.”
As It Happened
Ohio State trailed 14-7 after a dreadful first quarter that saw the Buckeyes go three-and-out on its first four possessions. The Buckeyes were outgained 137-17 in the first quarter. The only shining light was Roby’s 41-yard interception return for a touchdown on Nebraska’s second series.
On that play, Nebraska faced a third-and-9 at its own 32. Martinez stood in under pressure from OSU’s Johnathan Hankins and threw to Quincy Enunwa on the right sideline. But Roby jumped the route and intercepted the ball. He rolled down the sideline, picking up a block from Hankins on Martinez for the 41-yard touchdown return that put OSU up 7-0 with 8:29 left in the half.
“I had a dream last night that I would have a pick-six,” Roby said. “Stuff like that happens and it’s crazy. I saw it on film when they line up in a certain formation they run certain routes. I saw him running the route and I jumped it.”
Nebraska was backed up on its own 8-yard line after the ensuing kickoff. But the Huskers moved 92 yards in a brisk seven plays. On first down from the NU 18, Burkhead took a give going right, he cutback through a huge hole, got past the first wave and was gone down the right sideline. OSU’s Travis Howard tracked him down inside the OSU 10, but was flagged for a face mask.
Three plays later, Burkhead moved under center to take the snap and tossed to Ameer Abdullah who scored over right tackle on the 1-yard touchdown that tied it at 7-7 with 5:26 left in the first quarter.
The Nebraska defense forced a punt, which Abdullah returned 43 yards down to the OSU 28-yard line. Punter Ben Buchanan had to make the touchdown-saving tackle. But that only forestalled the inevitable. The Huskers needed four plays to find the end zone. Braylon Heard rolled for 17 yards on the first play. Three plays later, Burkhead again moved under center and tossed to Abdullah for another touchdown, this one for 3 yards. Nebraska led 14-7 with 1:50 left in the third quarter.
Facing fourth-and-7 on their own 25, the Buckeyes attempted a fake punt. Buchanan tried to run for it, but was stopped short by NU’s Charles Jackson at the OSU 31. It appeared that Jackson shed OSU’s Storm Klein to make the play on Buchanan.
The OSU defense held with linebacker Ryan Shazier netting a third-down sack. Brett Maher’s 26-yard field goal put the Huskers up 17-7 with 11:59 left in the first half.
“I thought the first quarter was a trainwreck for our offense, but it was because they're playing very good defense,” Meyer said.
What came next was a 28-point OSU explosion.
OSU regained the lead with a three-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Miller keyed it with his 72-yard run on the first play. He faked a give and kept it up the middle. He juked by Nebraska safety P.J. Smith and cut outside down the right sideline. NU’s Ciante Evans slowed him down and NU’s Daimon Stafford knocked him out of bounds at the NU 3. Two plays later, Hyde leaped over the pile for the 1-yard touchdown that made it 17-14 in favor of OSU with 10:49 left in the half.
Nebraska, facing third-and-5 at its own 20, saw Martinez try and put it in to Kenny Bell. But Roby made the easy interception and returned it 8 yards to the 20.
The Buckeyes needed two plays to find the end zone. On second-and-8 from the 18, Miller faked a give and rolled right. He hit wide open tight end Jeff Heuerman in the flat and he rolled for the 18-yard touchdown that put the Buckeyes back up 21-17 with 8:58 left in the half.
Nebraska was backed up on its own 15 because of a pair of false start penalties. But the Huskers hit another big play. Martinez found Bell over the middle. He fended off OSU’s Orhian Johnson before Shazier could drag him down via the face mask. The 74-yard play and penalty put the ball at the OSU 4. After another false start penalty, Martinez kept it on a quarterback draw, got outside left and broke a pair of tackles on his way to the end zone. The touchdown put the Huskers back up 24-21 with 6:59 left in the half.
But the Buckeyes rallied with two late-half touchdowns to regain the lead.
OSU moved 75 yards on 10 plays on its ensuing possession. Miller hit Brown for 13 yards and then rushed for 15 more, although a personal foul call on Evan Spencer moved it back to the OSU 49. Miller then found tight end Nick Vannett for a 32-yard gain down to the 19. Miller scrambled for 5 yards to convert a first down at the 7. Hyde then went right on a sweep and got in for the touchdown and a 28-24 lead with 3:11 left in the half.
The Buckeyes then forced a three-and-out and got it back after a punt on its own 43 with 1:27 left in the half. Miller scrambled for an 18-yard gain and a first down at the NU 39. Finally, on fourth-and-2 at the 31, Miller kept it going right and broke free for the touchdown to make it 35-24 with 23 seconds left in the half.
After netting just 17 yards in the first quarter, OSU had 242 yards and 28 points in the second quarter alone.
Nebraska had the ball to start the second half and moved 77 yards in seven plays to cut the lead to 35-31. Martinez hit Bell for 28 yards and Heard for 20 before Burkhead skitted for 24 more. Finally on third-and-goal from the 3, Martinez went play action and hit tight end Ben Cotton for the 3-yard TD in front of OSU’s Johnson. OSU still led 35-31 with 12:50 left in the third quarter.
The Buckeyes answered by going 75 yards in 10 plays. The key play was Miller’s 36-yard pass to Heuerman down the seam and down to the NU 1. Two plays later, Hyde plowed in for his third touchdown to make it 42-31 with 8:15 left in the third quarter.
The OSU defense then had a huge series with Klein and John Simon sacking Martinez to help force a punt. NU’s Maher nailed a 50-yarder, but OSU’s Brown fielded it at his own 24, weaved through some traffic and was gone down the left sideline for the 76-yard TD return that put the Buckeyes up 49-31 with 5:50 left in the third.
“Overall it was just good blocking,” Brown said. “When we watch the film tomorrow, that’s what we’ll see, those guys making good blocks. Making those perfect blocks made it easy for me. The blocking was honestly so good I didn’t even see anyone in front of me, just the punter. I knew I just had to make one person miss.”
OSU’s Johnson then picked off a Martinez pass in the red zone. But Hyde fumbled it back to the Huskers early in the fourth quarter.
OSU’s Rod Smith bounced off would-be tacklers on a 33-yard touchdown burst to make it 56-31 with 10:27 left in the game. That run capped a three-play, 62-yard scoring march. Hyde had set it up with runs of 23 and 6 yards.
Martinez had a 2-yard TD run for Nebraska in the fourth quarter, but OSU answered with Hyde’s 16-yard TD rumble with 48 seconds left to cap it.
* The 63-point outburst is OSU’s biggest since scoring 73 against Eastern Michigan in a 73-20 win in 2010. It is OSU’s largest point game in a Big Ten game since the Buckeyes defeated Minnesota 69-18 in 1983.
The 38 points allowed are the most since OSU lost at Michigan 40-34 last November. It is the most points allowed in an OSU win since the 42-39 win over Michigan – the famous one versus two game – in 2006.
* Wide receivers Michael Thomas and Evan Spencer had their first career starts. Orhian Johnson started his third consecutive game in place of the ailing C.J. Barnett at safety.
* Miller’s 72-yard run was the longest since he went 81 yards for a touchdown against Indiana last year.
Miller enjoyed his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season. His game is a new OSU single-game record for an OSU quarterback.
* Roby’s interceptions were his first and second of the season and give him five in his career.
* Johnson’s interception was his second of the year and sixth of his career.
* Linebacker Etienne Sabino left the game in the first quarter with a right knee injury. Freshman Josh Perry replaced him.
* This was the fourth all-time meeting between Ohio State and Nebraska. OSU is now 3-1 against Nebraska with wins in 1955 (28-20) and 1956 (34-7) and a loss at Lincoln last year (34-27).
Because Nebraska is in the Legends Division, OSU will not see Nebraska again until 2016.
* Nebraska coach Bo Pelini was a four-year letterwinner and a two-year starter at free safety for Ohio State from 1987-90 and a team captain in 1990. He is a native of Youngstown, Ohio. As a senior at OSU, Pelini won the Bo Rein Award as the program’s most inspirational player.
This was the fourth time Pelini has coached against OSU. He was a graduate assistant at Iowa in 1991, when the Hawkeyes won 16-9 in Columbus. He was the defensive coordinator at LSU when the Tigers defeated OSU 38-24 in the 2008 BCS national title game. And his Huskers came back to post last year’s win over the Buckeyes in Lincoln.
“Congratulations to Ohio State, they played a great game,” Pelini said. “We, however, did not play our best, and that is really disappointing. Like I just told my football team, we need to win out. We need to win out because that is the only way to make it to Indianapolis.”
* Ohio State and Nebraska are two of the top five winningest programs in college football history. Ohio State is fifth all-time with 831 wins. Nebraska is just ahead of OSU with 850 wins. (The top three winning programs are Michigan at 898, Texas at 862 and Notre Dame at 858.)
Since 1970, Nebraska has won more games (416) than any other program. The next three since 1970: Oklahoma, 389; Michigan, 381; and Ohio State, 378.
* This was just the 12th night game ever at Ohio Stadium since the first one against Pittsburgh in 1985. OSU is now 9-3 all-time in home night games.
* OSU is 67-19-5 all-time in Homecoming games.
* The Buckeyes have reached 6-0 to start a season for the fourth time in seven years, dating to 2006. Over the last 20 years, OSU has reached at least 6-0 on at least nine occasions: 1993 (started 8-0), 1995 (started 11-0), 1996 (started 10-0), 1998 (started 8-0), 2002 (finished 14-0), 2006 (started 12-0), 2007 (started 10-0) and 2010 (started 6-0).
This is the fifth team Meyer has led to a 6-0 start in his 11th year as a head coach. Only two first-year OSU coaches have started 6-0. Carroll Widdoes was 9-0 in 1944 and eventually won his first 12 games before a loss. Earle Bruce posted an 11-0 record to open the 1979 before a Rose Bowl loss to USC.
* OSU’s 1972 Big Ten championship team was recognized at halftime. That team went 9-2 and won the first of six straight conference titles with a Big Ten record of 7-1. LB Randy Gradishar and OT John Hicks were All-Americans on that squad, which was coached by Woody Hayes.
* OSU’s men’s basketball team, coached by Thad Matta, received its Final Four rings during an onfield ceremony.
* The Buckeyes improved to 2-0 against ranked teams this season, following last week’s win at then-No. 21 Michigan State. In 11 years as a college head coach, his teams are a combined 23-10 against ranked teams.
* The previous Ohio Stadium record crowd was 106,033 against USC in 2009.
* Ohio State visits Indiana next Saturday (8 p.m., Big Ten Network). The Hoosiers dropped to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play with a 31-27 home loss to Michigan State.
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