Sunday Morning Quarterback: Evaluating Ohio State’s 63-38 win against Nebraska
Published: Sunday, October 7, 2012
Updated: Sunday, October 7, 2012 11:10
It was one big party in Ohio Stadium last night, as No. 12 Ohio State beat down No. 21 Nebraska for a 63-38 victory. Here’s what we learned about the Buckeyes, who improved to 6-0 for the season.
It was an exciting night for the program and Buckeye fans were treated to a historic night during OSU's 100th Homecoming game.
Quarterback Braxton Miller was once again spectacular. The sophomore ran for a career-high 186 yards, breaking his own school record for most rushing yards by a quarterback.
“We have a quarterback that's kind of ridiculous running the ball,” first-year coach Urban Meyer said.
Ridiculous is a fair way of describing Miller. He has an innate ability to make opposing defenders look foolish, to turn a sure-loss into a long touchdown. He’s the perfect quarterback to lead an offense that was equally absurd Saturday night.
On OSU’s first four possessions, the offense managed a meager seven yards. It looked bleak for the Buckeyes, who trailed 17-7 early in the second quarter.
And then it happened. Miller did what he does best, veering through the Nebraska defense for a 72-yard run to move the ball down to the three-yard line for the Buckeyes.
Miller’s long run fired up the crowd and ignited the offensive barrage that would shortly ensue. In the team’s final ten possessions, the Buckeyes scored eight touchdowns en route to a 63-point performance. It was the first time OSU scored more than 60 points against a Big Ten opponent since Oct. 1, 1983, a 69-18 drubbing of Minnesota.
Meyer-coached teams are famous for high-scoring affairs, but even the most optimistic Buckeye fans shouldn’t have expected OSU to look this good this early in his tenure.
For one, Meyer is instilling a completely different offensive scheme, with inherited players that he didn’t recruit for his system. And the players he does have are young – OSU starts just three seniors on offense. It would be insane to think that the Buckeyes would be an offensive juggernaut in year one, there had to be hiccups.
Well, the first quarter was a hiccup, and the team still managed 63 points against a defense that hadn’t allowed more than 36 points in a game this season. This offense still has plenty of room to improve, and that, is ridiculous.
One B1G mess
We’re halfway through the season, and OSU is the clear favorite to win the conference they are sanctioned from winning.
The Buckeyes stand alone as the Big Ten’s only unbeaten team. The four preseason favorites – Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin - all have two losses, and only Michigan is unbeaten in conference play.
Then there’s the league’s Leaders division, currently led by Penn State and OSU, the conference’s two teams banned from post-season play. If the season ended today, the division’s third-place team, Wisconsin, would play in the conference championship game.
It’s been a tough season thus far for the Big Ten, whose top teams were beat down in non-conference play. Entering this weekend, only three teams were ranked in the top 25. Two of them lost on Saturday.
Excluding last season, the Buckeyes have been the class of the conference for the past decade. That appears to be the case again this year, but given the team’s sanctions, it doesn’t bode well for the Big Ten.
Give an extra helmet sticker to…
Carlos Hyde, who had a career night for the Buckeyes. The junior running back rushed for 140 yards and four touchdowns, both personal bests.
Perhaps more importantly, Hyde carried the ball a career-high 28 times. It was the first time an OSU running back had more than 20 carries since Miller took over as starting quarterback last season.
A hot topic of conversation this year has been whether Miller receives too many carriers, and in turn too many hits, in Meyer’s system.
It’s a lot easier to limit you best player’s touches when others can step up and provide production.
Hyde did that Saturday night, and that bodes well for the Buckeyes moving forward.