Ohio State scored early, quickly and repeatedly Saturday afternoon, grinding Football Championship Subdivision rival Florida A&M into submission with a record-shattering 76-0 pummeling.
Senior quarterback Kenny Guiton, subbing for still-injured starter Braxton Miller, threw for a school-record six touchdown passes in the first half as the Buckeyes rolled to a 55-0 lead at intermission that had OSU enjoying a 326-54 margin in total yardages and a 21-1 advantage in first downs.
The first-half explosion represented the most points scored in the opening two quarters by Ohio State since tallying 56 in an eventual 56-35 victory against Iowa. Unlike in that game, however, the Buckeyes kept rolling with three more touchdowns against FAMU in the second half, piling up the most lopsided shutout since a 76-0 win over Western Reserve in November 1934.
Guiton finished the game with 24 completions in 34 attempts for 215 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. Redshirt freshman Cardale Jones relieved Guiton in the second half, and despite missing a couple of series with a lacerated hand that needed stitches, rushed eight times for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Ohio State completely throttled its undersized, outmanned opponents with a 603-80 advantage in total yardage that included 388 yards on the ground. True freshman tailback Ezekiel Elliott led the ground charge with 162 yards and two TDs on just 14 carries, all in the second half. Seven different Buckeyes had at least one carry, including senior tailback Jordan Hall, who had two touchdowns despite carrying only four times for 50 yards.
Meanwhile, 10 OSU players had at least one reception. Junior wideout Evan Spencer had four receptions for 50 yards and two scores, while junior tight end Jeff Heuerman also had four catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. Wide receivers Devin Smith and Chris Fields also had touchdown catches as did senior tailback Carlos Hyde.
It was difficult to find positives for Florida A&M, whose offense failed to cross midfield all day. Starting quarterback Damien Fleming completed 10 of 16 passes, but totaled only 30 yards with an interception. Only a 7-yard run by running back Al-Terek McBurse on the game’s final play allowed the Rattlers to get more total yards than Ohio State had points.
When asked what he learned about his team after such a lopsided victory, OSU head coach Urban Meyer replied, “I like where we are as a team. I like where we are. I like the seriousness. I like the way our coaches are preparing our team.
“Look, I’ve been on the other side of games like these. You do what you can. We ran the ball in the second half, but you can’t tell your players not to play hard. This is their payday for a hard week of practice, and our fans have a right to see our team play hard.”
Then when asked if he thought his team was prepared to start the Big Ten season next week, Meyer answered, “I’d like to think we are. As a coach, I believe we are ready. Our expectations are real high.”
Ohio State scored its first four touchdowns on possessions each lasting less than one minute. Guiton threw an interception in the end zone at the end of OSU’s first drive, but Florida A&M cornerback Patrick Aiken inexplicably tried to run the ball out of the end zone and wound up fumbling the ball back to the Buckeyes at the 3-yard line.
One play later, Hall bolted into the end zone to give Ohio State a 7-0 lead at the 12:57 mark of the opening quarter.
Brown’s 65-yard punt return set up the Buckeyes’ second score, an 11-yard touchdown pass from Guiton to Heuerman that the OSU tight end finished off by steamrolling DB Devonte Terry Johnson at the goal line. Guiton’s pass to Hall on a two-point conversion try was stuffed by the Rattlers, but that was about the only thing that didn’t go Ohio State’s way in the early going.
After Heuerman’s touchdown made it 13-0 with 11:50 remaining in the first quarter, OSU junior Doran Grant smothered a punt at the end of Florida A&M’s next possession, giving the Buckeyes the ball at the visitors’ 25-yard line. Two plays later, Guiton connected with Spencer in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown throw and it was 20-0 at the 9:25 mark of the first quarter.
Hyde got into the act on the next drive, converting a fourth-and-1 situation on his first run from scrimmage in 2013 and sustained a possession he capped with a 1-yard touchdown catch off a shovel pass from Guiton. That made it 27-0 with 32 seconds remaining in the opening period, and the Buckeyes still weren’t through.
OSU cornerback Bradley Roby returned an interception 42 yards on the first play of FAMU’s next drive, and Guiton found Smith in the corner of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown pass to make it 34-0 after one quarter. During the first 15 minutes of the game, the Buckeyes had a 150-27 advantage in total yardage and had 10 first downs to none for the Rattlers, who also committed six penalties, had one pass intercepted, lost a fumble and had a punt blocked.
Florida A&M finally got its initial first down of the game at the 5:22 mark of the second quarter, but the Buckeyes had already scored two more touchdowns by that time to push their lead to 48-0. Hall ripped off an 18-yard touchdown run at the 11:35 mark, and then Fields gathered in an 18-yard scoring pass from Guiton with 6:09 until the break, allowing the OSU quarterback to tie the school’s single-game record with his fifth TD pass of the afternoon.
Guiton broke the record with a 15-yard pass to a wide-open Spencer to cap an 85-yard march in the final 2½ minutes of the half to give Ohio State a 55-0 cushion heading to the locker room.
Jones relieved Guiton to start the first half and broke off a 10-yard run for a first down on his first career carry. That kicked off a nine-play, 65-yard drive that culminated in a 16-yard touchdown run by Elliott to make it 62-0 with 9:53 remaining in the third quarter.
Elliott tallied his second score on a 13-yard run at the 2:26 mark to push the Buckeyes’ lead to 69-0, and then Jones capped the final touchdown drive of the afternoon with a 10-yard run. It finished off a 14-play, 98-yard march that came immediately after FAMU’s best play of the day – a 78-yard punt. Keeping the ball exclusively on the ground, that final possession at away 10 minutes and 15 seconds from the fourth quarter, and when Jones crossed the goal line, there was only 1:15 showing on the clock.