Buckeyes strike early and often to trample Thundering Herd
Published: Thursday, September 2, 2010
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 23:06
From the opening kickoff Thursday night, the Ohio State Buckeyes proved they weren't looking ahead to Miami (Fla.), easily disposing of Marshall, 45-7.
A year after narrowly escaping Navy in a season-opening victory one week before a clash with USC, No. 2 OSU made easy work of the Thundering Herd. The Buckeyes and Hurricanes play Sept. 11 at Ohio Stadium.
The Hurricanes weren't looking past their opponent, either. They pounded Florida A&M 45-0 Thursday.
"We have a tremendous challenge next weekend," OSU coach Jim Tressel said. "If we're willing to learn from this weekend and get rested and get healthy, then it could be a lot of fun."
In their first weeknight game since an Aug. 28, 1997, win against Wyoming, the Buckeyes notched their 11th consecutive season-opening victory by way of an early offensive explosion.
OSU made it look effortless against an overmatched Marshall team that is installing a new offensive system under first-year coach Doc Holliday.
"Marshall's doing a transition away from the style of football they used to play," Tressel said. "I'm not sure they were ready for our defense."
The Buckeyes scored touchdowns on three first-quarter possessions, none of which lasted more than 1 minute, 9 seconds, and took a 35-7 lead into halftime.
Safety Nate Oliver recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff and OSU marched down the field for a quick score.
Junior quarterback and Heisman hopeful Terrelle Pryor connected with receiver DeVier Posey on a 6-yard touchdown just 1:18 into the contest.
"We stress not to put the ball on the ground … it's unacceptable," Holliday said. "Any time you do that and you're playing Ohio State, you don't have a chance."
Pryor threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns – two to Posey – before sitting out most of the fourth quarter.
"Terrelle Pryor is a handful," Holliday said. "He does some things and you just can't get him on the ground."
After forcing Marshall into a quick punt, the Buckeyes wasted little time scoring again.
Running back Brandon Saine burst through a gaping hole for a gain of 40 yards, followed immediately by a 4-yard rush to the end zone to give OSU a 14-0 lead with 10:27 remaining in the first quarter.
"When he hits that gear, he can go," Tressel said. "He picked up a little crease and (Saine) was out of there."
The Buckeyes tacked on another touchdown with 3:49 left in the first half when Saine raced past the Marshall defense for a 45-yard score and a 28-7 lead. Saine finished with 103 yards on just nine carries.
Linebacker Brian Rolle's 30-yard interception return for a touchdown capped the first half scoring.
"It was such an incredible feeling to be able to score," Rolle said. "I just turned around and I was like, ‘wow, all I see is red.'"
Not everything went smoothly for OSU, however. Special teams woes that plagued the Buckeyes in their Rose Bowl victory over Oregon popped up again in the first half.
The Thundering Herd blocked a field goal attempt by freshman Drew Basil and returned it 61 yards for Marshall's only score.
"We just didn't protect the gap on the field goal," Tressel said. "We just flat out didn't protect. That better get fixed in one week. As far as the kickoff coverage, we sure hope it does (improve)."
Marshall's Andre Booker also returned a kickoff 63 yards in the first quarter, but the Herd couldn't take advantage of the field position.
In last season's opener, Navy nearly erased a 29-14 Buckeye lead in the fourth quarter. Rolle picked off a two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game with two minutes left.
In the fourth quarter Thursday, the game wasn't in doubt. Second- and third-stringers saw time on the field, including backup quarterbacks Joe Bauserman and Kenny Guiton.
"It was good that we got a number of guys in," Tressel said.
Marshall last defeated a ranked opponent on Sept. 20, 2003, when it knocked off No. 6 Kansas State 27-20. Its streak of eight consecutive losses against superior competition was never in jeopardy.
"It's going to be a more difficult world next week," Tressel said. "We have a chance to evaluate ourselves and be ready for what we know is going to be a great challenge."
Next week's meeting will be the first between the Buckeyes and Hurricanes since the national championship game on Jan. 3, 2003, that Ohio State won in double overtime, 31-24.
"Now's the time we have to get in that Miami mode," Rolle said. "We know we're going to play a fast, feisty, swagger team. You get the feeling like that team thinks they're back on the map like they were in the early 2000s."