Against Nebraska, the sixth the largest crowd ever (106,102) at Ohio Stadium saw Ohio State gets its defensive act together and beat the newest Big Ten powerhouse, the Cornhuskers.
Surprisingly, Ohio State and Nebraska have played just three times before, in 1955 and 1956 at The Shoe and last year at Nebraska. Neither team won a previous road game, but the Huskers came to Columbus set on changing that.
It took a spring game and 21 quarters of football, but it appeared first-year coach Urban Meyer finally got his team playing OSU-style football. However, the Buckeyes one-time outstanding safety and now Nebraska coach, Bo Pelini, probably felt pretty good for the first 20 minutes of the game as Nebraska dominated, scoring 17 points verses OSU’s only score being a touchdown from a Bradley Roby interception.
| Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby breaks up a pass in
the Buckeye's win over Nebraska at Ohio Stadium. (Press
photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.lifepics.com)
Partway into the second quarter, things began to change in favor of the Buckeyes. At his press conference, Meyer said that early in the second quarter they decided to let OSU quarterback Braxton Miller have more freedom and restrict his running. It worked, as OSU scored 28 points in the second quarter while Nebraska was only able to get seven points.
“The offensive line eventually took over the game,” Meyer said.
Nebraska came out for the second half and scored in the first few minutes. The tide had not turned, however, as the Buckeyes scored the next three touchdowns. Both the OSU offense and defense had it together and they pounded the team from out west.
The game was surprisingly high scoring. The combined 101 points was the most in a Big Ten game involving Ohio State in 62 years when they beat Iowa, 83-21. Miller, for the sixth game in a row, was the leading rusher with 184 yards (313 total) and two TDs. This was a rushing record for a Buckeye quarterback. This type of consistent play should get Miller some attention from the Heisman voters.
Carlos Hyde, who was named Big Ten co-offensive player of the week, had 140 yards rushing and four TD’s. He is the first running back since Eddie George to get four TDs in a game. Wide receiver Corey Brown was named special teams’ player of the week.
Once The Buckeyes got it together they were tough for Nebraska to stop. At the after game press conference, Coach Meyer was asked, “Did you think the team would play this well and that you would be 6-0 by now?”
“No way,” he said, “What I saw last year and as bad as we were in the spring and for the first few games I never would have guessed that they would become this good of a team by this date.”
He said he was pleased the way the offensive line, defensive line and the linebackers are playing. When asked if he thought they could get much better he said absolutely, the team still has much untapped potential.
As good as the defense was in the Nebraska game, they were equally bad in the Indiana game. Some would say that the only thing that kept the Buckeyes from being beaten was the clock.
The Hoosiers clearly had end of the game momentum as they scored 15 points in the last 35 seconds and were stopped only when an onside kick failed.
It looks as though the Buckeyes have two different defensive teams and they alternate them every week or so. The offense played well and finally someone else produced more rushing yards than Miller.
Miller had 149 rushing yards (211 passing) while playing a part in three TDs (one rushing and two passing). Carlos Hyde had 156 yards and one TD. There was not much defense on either team as the Buckeyes scored 52 points to beat Indiana by three.
Yes, Indiana, the doormat of the Big Ten. OSU never beat an opponent that scored 49 or more points against them. Interestingly, 101 points have been scored in each of the Bucks’ last two games. OSU scored 115 in those two games.
To help shore up the defense, Coach Meyer had blocking fullback Zach Boren also play linebacker which he played in high school. Boren stepped up and had more tackles than any other defensive player in the Indiana game. If this continues to work, he may be the first two way player since Chris Gamble in 2002.
An interesting piece of information on Boren — he is a tough player and a great person with a good strong work ethic. His parents both went to the University of Michigan and his older brother, an outstanding lineman there, quit several years ago and transferred to Ohio State because he did not like former coach Rich Rodriguez’s style. Younger brother Jacoby now is a 287 pound freshman lineman at OSU.
Some things to consider.
In fairness to OSU, they have little player depth one defense and now even more are hurt. Also, IU runs a fast paced spread offensive which the Buckeyes are not used to defending. This year, Indiana is not the joke of the Big Ten as we have seen in the past. They are starting to get it together and could bring some surprises this year.
After the spring game, many said it would take Coach Meyer several years to get his system in place and they probably would only win five or six games this year. I pretty much stood in a lonely group of “crazy Buckeye fans.” I was blinded by what some called wishful thinking, believing they would win eight or nine games and it would not take a year to see results.
At the spring game what I saw was a group of players so humiliated by the previous year’s problems that they had something to prove this year and they were extremely motivated to do so. Trust me, OSU will do very well this year.
They are now ranked seventh in the nation and are the only unbeaten Big 10 team. Just think, this is Coach Meyer’s first year. This team was inherited by Coach Meyer and they are very young. Next year Meyer, who has proven to be one of the best recruiters in the nation, will start getting his selections on the field.
In addition to all of that, remember, Meyer does not yet have his system completely in place. There is going to be some exciting football played in The Shoe for the rest of this year and for many more.
If any of the fans from that team up north are reading this, fair warning — I promise there will be a real football game in The Shoe November 24.
(Harold Hamilton is a freelance photographer who represented The Press on the field at the Ohio State-Nebraska game at Ohio Stadium. His photos can be viewed at HEHphotos.lifepics.com)