Braxton Miller enjoyed a record-breaking day and the Urban Meyer era kicked off in style Saturday afternoon as Ohio State rolled to a 56-10 victory over Miami (Ohio) in front of 105,039 fans at Ohio Stadium.
Miller rushed for 161 yards and one touchdown, setting a new single-game rushing record for OSU quarterbacks. He broke the record of 146 set by Cornelius Greene during a 52-7 win over Wisconsin in 1974. Miller added another 207 yards through the air, giving him 368 total yards for the game. That was the sixth-highest single-game total in program history.
“One of the things about Braxton, the objective is to take him from an athlete playing quarterback to a quarterback managing an entire offense,” Meyer said. “He has to be a leader, and he showed that today.”
The Buckeyes shook over a forgettable first quarter to spank the RedHawks. OSU accounted for only 48 yards of offense during The Opening 15 minutes but finished with 538 total yards for the game. It was the highest total yardage since Ohio State had 645 in a 73-20 win over Eastern Michigan during the vacated season of 2010.
Considering non-vacated seasons, it was largest yardage total since the Buckeyes had 559 vs. New Mexico State in 2009. OSU won that game by a 45-0 final. The point total was the team’s best in a non-vacated season since a 58-7 victory over Northwestern in 2007.
Miami enjoyed a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and it could have been much more. The RedHawks dropped a pair of sure touchdown passes and missed a 24-yard field goal inside the first 10 minutes of the contest, and after piling up 172 yards of offense in the first quarter, managed only 140 more the rest of the game.
Senior QB Zac Dysart was practically a one-man show for the RedHawks. He completed 31 of 53 passes for 303 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Dysart became the first opposing quarterback to top the 300-yard mark against the Buckeyes since Colt McCoy of Texas threw for 414 during his team’s 24-21 win in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. No opponent had thrown for 300 or more against the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium since Drew Stanton of Michigan State had 340 during his team’s 35-24 loss to OSU in 2005.
Unfortunately for Miami, it couldn’t get anything going on the ground. The RedHawks had minus-1 yard to show for 20 attempts. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes chewed up 294 yards and scored five touchdowns on the ground.
Miller led the way with his career-high 161 yards and one score on 17 carries while tailback Carlos Hyde accounted for 82 yards and two TDs on his 17 attempts. True freshman Bri’onte Dunn chipped in with seven carries for 31 yards and a score while senior fullback Zach Boren tallied his first career touchdown on a 2-yard bolt in the fourth quarter.
Miami got on the scoreboard first when freshman kicker Kaleb Patterson converted a 22-yard field goal at the 5:06 mark of the opening quarter. But the RedHawks had already squandered three chances to score before Patterson made it 3-0.
On its second possession of the game, MU drove to the Ohio State 6-yard line, but on third-and-5 from there, a wide-open running back Justin Semmes couldn’t come up with a low throw from Dysart, a pass that likely would have resulted in a touchdown. On the next play, Patterson left his 24-yard field goal attempt outside the right upright.
When Miami got the ball back, it drove deep in Ohio State territory again. On third-and-goal at the 4, Dysart found top receiver Nick Harwell in the end zone, but the normally sure-handed Harwell dropped the ball when he fell to the turf and the RedHawks wound up having to settle for Patterson’s 22-yard field goal.
Once the second quarter began, it seemed like the Buckeyes switched gears and never looked back. After totaling only 48 yards in the first quarter, they went 83 yards in only four plays on their opening possession of the second period. Hyde had a 16-yard run to begin the proceedings, and two plays later Miller connected for 38 yards to wideout Corey “Philly” Brown.
On the next play, Miller lofted a high pass into the end zone that receiver Devin Smith somehow speared out of the air with a spectacular one-handed grab. The 23-yard touchdown play gave the Buckeyes a 7-3 lead and they were off and running.
Miller capped a seven-play, 57-yard drive with a 5-yard TD toss to Brown and then Hyde ran 4 yards for a score at the 5:17 mark of the second quarter to give Ohio State a 21-3 lead at halftime.
The Buckeyes nearly had another touchdown on the final play of the opening half when Miller completed a 44-yard pass to wideout Evan Spencer to the Miami 1 with three seconds left. But after a timeout and deciding to go for the touchdown, Hyde’s dive was stopped just short of the goal line.
It took only one play in the third quarter for Ohio State to add to its lead, though, as Miller broke off a highlight-reel run of 65 yards for a touchdown, and then the Buckeyes took advantage of a Miami mistake to make it 35-3. Punter Zac Murphy was unable to field a high snap, and OSU sophomore Bradley Roby came up with the loose ball in the end zone.
The RedHawks came back on the next possession with their only touchdown drive of the game, capping the 73-yarde march with a 44-yard pass from Dysart to Harwell. That made it 35-10 at the 10:24 mark of the third period.
Two plays into the fourth quarter, OSU senior Travis Howard picked off Dysart deep in Miami territory, and Hyde swept over left end for an 8-yard touchdown to push the Buckeyes’ advantage to 42-10 with 14:04 remaining. The pick was one of two Howard had in the game.
Junior backup Kenny Guiton took over the controls for Miller and engineered an eight-play, 59-yard march that culminated in Boren’s touchdown run to make it 49-10 at the 9:33 mark. Dunn then bolted over from the 4-yard line with 44 seconds remaining to set the final score.
In addition to his single-game record, Miller now shares the official Ohio State quarterback record for most 100-yard rushing games. Both he and Greene have four. Terrelle Pryor had seven during his career, but four of them during the 2010 season have been removed from the OSU record book.
The sophomore QB finished with 14 completions in 24 attempts while Guiton was 5 for 9 for 37 yards. Brown was the team’s top receiver, setting career-highs with seven catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, OSU was led by linebacker Ryan Shazier with eight tackles while Roby added six stops to his fumble recovery in the end zone.
The game also marked the return of senior defensive end Nathan Williams, who played extensively for the first time since last year’s opening game. Williams had a pair of two tackles in the contest.
Ohio State also had a pair of sacks, one each from heralded true freshmen Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington.
“I was very pleased with the win,” Meyer said. “Obviously that first quarter was very poor on our end but give credit where credit is due. Miami did a good job defending us there. But it was a great day. We enjoyed the win because we know how difficult it is to win in major college football. But we got one in and now we have to get ready for next week.”