With an offense that could never get going, the No. 17 Ohio State football team dropped its road opener by a 24-6 score Saturday night to Miami (Fla.) in South Florida.
Ohio State put together one of its worst passing performances in history, with neither Joe Bauserman nor Braxton Miller able to get anything going through the air. Bauserman was 2 of 14 passing for 13 yards, while Miller was 2 for 4 for 22 yards and an interception and fumbled three times, losing one.
Missing a number of its planned offensive starters thanks to an offseason scandal – including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who left for the NFL – the Buckeyes couldn’t climb out of a first-quarter hole after the Hurricanes scored touchdowns on each of their first two drives.
After that, the Buckeye defense recovered, forcing two interceptions out of Miami quarterback Jacory Harris, but the offense couldn’t do its part. The Buckeyes punted six times and lost two turnovers, and the only points came on a pair of field goals by kicker Drew Basil.
The writing was on the wall when the Buckeyes went three-and-out on their first possession, giving Miami the ball on its 37-yard line to start. Running back Lamar Miller quickly got things in gear for the Hurricanes’ offense, rumbling up the middle and breaking a tackle from C.J. Barnett on the way to a 54-yard run that set up the ‘Canes in prime scoring position.
Three plays later, Harris dropped back and found Allen Hurns on the right side for a 3-yard touchdown pass – providing all the points the Hurricanes would need.
After another three-and-out under Bauserman, Travis Benjamin returned the Ben Buchanan punt 24 yards to the U 47-yard line. That set up a methodical 11-play, 53-yard drive capped by another 3-yard pass on a back shoulder fade to Hurns in front of Bradley Roby at the left sideline that made it 14-0 with 5:12 left in the first quarter.
Lamar Miller had the big play of the series, breaking tackles over the right side for a 19-yard gain that put Miami in a first-and-goal situation. By the time the first quarter was over, Miller had reached the century mark, piling up 115 yards on nine carries.
That hole was simply too big for the Buckeyes to escape. Jordan Hall, back from a two-game suspension at running back, helped welcome Braxton Miller into the game with back-to-back carries earning first downs that put OSU in Hurricanes territory, but Miller’s first pass of the game was tipped by Sean Spence and intercepted at the Miami 14 by JoJo Nicolas.
Barnett picked off Harris on the next drive, and Hall racked up two more first downs as the rush offense appeared to be getting in gear. However, a scrambling Miller overshot Verlon Reed on third down and OSU was forced to punt again despite getting into Miami territory.
The defense held and Miami was forced to punt, setting up OSU’s most successful offensive series. With Bauserman at the controls, the Buckeyes moved up the field, going 64 yards in 16 plays before stalling inside the 5. Basil followed with a 22-yard field goal, the first of his career, to make it 14-3 with 6:28 to play.
Ohio State got the ball back quickly as Harris was intercepted by Bradley Roby, who had underneath coverage. Roby got to the Miami 23, but Bauserman’s third-and-goal pass to Jacob Stoneburner went off the tight end’s hands in the end zone and fell harmlessly to the turf. Basil followed with another field goal, a 24-yarder, to make it 14-6 with 3:40 to play in the half.
Miami got a field goal on the last play of the first half to cap a 10-play, 64-yard drive that included a sideline pass to the left side that Tommy Streeted bobbled before catching between his legs. The three-pointer from 25 yards out by Jake Wieclaw made it 17-6 at the half.
Ohio State’s defense held Miami in the third quarter, once stopping Harris on a fourth-and-1 inside Buckeye territory, but the offense had only 6 yards on 12 plays while Bauserman and Miller continued to split time.
Finally, the Buckeyes settled on Miller on a drive early in the third quarter, and the quarterback responded with 30 rushing yards on five attempts. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, the last play ended with Miller losing the football when Micanor Regis punched it out from behind, and Mike Williams’ recovery with 9:21 to play pretty much ended the game.
From there, the Hurricanes slowly marched down the field, taking 8:48 off the clock in 14 plays before Mike James rumbled in from a yard out to set the final score.
Hall led OSU with 87 yards rushing on 14 carries, but he had only one rush in the second half. Carlos Hyde added 54 yards on 12 carries and also had 12 yards on one catch, making him the team’s leading receiver. Buchanan was often OSU’s best offensive weapon, averaging 46.5 yards on six punts while topping out at 60 yards.
Harris was 16 for 23 for 123 yards, two scores and two picks, while Lamar Miller controlled the tempo, rushing 26 times for 184 yards.
Andrew Sweat led the Buckeyes with nine tackles.
Ohio State, whose run of more than 100 weeks in the AP poll looks to be ending, gets back on the field next Saturday at 3:30 vs. visiting Colorado.