Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer asked for an inferno Saturday night when his No. 12 Buckeyes hosted No. 21 Nebraska.
He got it.
Not only was Ohio Stadium packed for a new record crowd of 106,102, but the offense caught fire to the tune of 63 points. It’s the most ever by a Buckeye team against a ranked team in school history, bettering the 56 scored against Iowa in 1995.
It was the most points scored by a Buckeye team since 2010, when OSU scored 73 on Eastern Michigan. Furthermore, it was the most for an Ohio State team against a Big Ten school since 1983, when the Bucks beat Minnesota 69-18.
It was a staggering night in the ‘Shoe, one night short of the 90th anniversary of the first game played there. The two teams combined for 101 points and nearly 1,000 yards of total offense.
It was a back and forth affair in the first half, before the Buckeyes took the lead for good with a Carlos Hyde 7-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Ohio State seized control of the game in the third quarter, after the teams traded touchdowns to open the second half. Storm Klein and John Simon tackled Taylor Martinez behind the line of scrimmage on successive plays, forcing a Nebraska punt. Corey Brown returned that kick 76 yards for a touchdown and a 49-31 lead.
What’s surprising was the slow start for the Buckeye offense that Meyer called a “train wreck”. The first 15 minutes on offense. OSU managed just 17 yards total.
The first first down of the game for the Buckeyes didn’t come until the second quarter, on Miller’s 72-yard run that set up Carlos Hyde’s touchdown. The play matched the Miller touchdown pass to Devin Smith against California for the longest play of the season for Ohio State.
For the second quarter, OSU totaled 243 yards of offense, more than Nebraska’s 241 for the entire half.
Another Roby interception helped the Bucks re-gain the lead, when Miller connected with tight end Jeff Heuerman on an 18-yard score, the first touchdown on his career.
Nebraska came right back on a controversial 74-yard pass play from Taylor Martinez to Kenny Bell. Bradley Roby was flagged for a late hit, and Ryan Shazier also drew laundry for a face mask, while Bell grabbed the face masks of both Orhian Johnson and Shazier without consequence.
Once again, the hosts had an answer. This time Miller went to his other tight end, Nick Vannett for a 32-yard pick-up, setting up Hyde’s second score of the game from seven yards out.
The Buckeyes ran the two-minute offense to perfection, getting a 31-yard touchdown from Miller on fourth and one with just 23 seconds remaining in the half.
Once again, Miller was sensational, setting a new single-game rushing record for a quarterback (breaking his own mark) with 186 yards and a score. He also threw for 127 yards and another touchdown, giving him 313 yards of total offense.
He wasn’t the only weapon in the ground game, however. Carlos Hyde backed up a 104-yard performance last year against Nebraska with 140 yards on 28 carries today. He scored four touchdowns, the most by a Buckeye in one game since Eddie George did it in 1995 against Iowa. Rod Smith added a 38-yard score on his only carry.
For the game, the Buckeyes ran for 371 yards, the sixth highest total in school history. The Buckeyes out-gained Nebraska 498 to 437.
The OSU tight ends got into the act today, with Heuerman catching two passes for 53 yards, and Nick Vannett hauling in a 32 yard reception.
The biggest difference in the game was turnovers. Martinez threw three interceptions, and lost a fourth quarter fumble. The only Buckeye miscue was a Hyde fourth quarter fumble.
Martinez did complete 15 of 25 for 214 yards and a touchdown, while adding 40 yards and two more scores on the ground.
Before leaving with an injury, Rex Burkhead was effective, carrying 14 times for 119 yards, with 73 coming on one first quarter carry. Kenny Bell had five catches for 133 yards.
On defense, Shazier led the way with 11 tackles, two more than safety Christian Bryant. Roby made four stops to with his two picks and one pass break up. John Simon was a handful, with seven tackles, five for loss and two sacks.
The Buckeyes ran their record to 272-0-1 all-time when scoring 35 or more points. The next game is at Indiana, another night game.