Urban Meyer improved his record as head football coach at Ohio State to 13-0 as his Buckeyes kicked off the season with a 40-20 victory over Buffalo. Ohio State entered the season ranked second in the country and looked the part early on.
On the offense’s first drive of the game Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller connected with an open Devin Smith for a 47 yard touchdown strike. Following the score the Buckeyes lined up in the spread extra point formation that has become a recent fad in high school in college. By spreading the lineman out wide the offense can look for areas on the perimeter or up the middle where they have a numbers advantage to score an easy two. In this instance the Buckeyes used a direct snap to quarterback Kenny Guiton who took advantage of the spread out Buffalo defense and ran it in for the two.
After the defense forced a punt, Braxton Miller and the OSU offense flew back down the field for a 5 play, 61 yard touchdown drive. Meyer and Miller controlled the tempo to their liking with Miller completing all 4 throws on the drive, including the 7 yard touchdown to Chris Fields, and an 18 yard swing pass to speedy freshman Dontre Wilson. Once again the Buckeyes lined up in the spread extra point formation, this time with Guiton taking the snap and throwing out wide to Jordan Hall who was lined up directly behind Buckeye blockers.
Following a third straight punt by Buffalo, Meyer and Miller turned to the ground to gash up the Bulls’ defense. After showing Buffalo a heavy dose of read option with Jordan Hall and Braxton Miller, Hall was able to take Miller’s hand off up the middle untouched for a 49 yard TD run as the Buffalo defense over compensated for Miller keeping the ball on the play. The Buckeyes continued to line up in the spread extra point formation but shifted back into the traditional one as Buffalo had finally adjusted to the gimmick, drawing boos from the crowd thirsty for more points as the first quarter concluded
That would be the high point of the game as mental mistakes and sloppy play allowed Buffalo to gain some traction, but never seriously put the game in doubt.
A failed fourth down attempt by the OSU offense, a fumble by Dontre Wilson that led to a Buffalo touchdown, and then a pick six thrown by Miller to Buffalo stud passrusher Khalil Mack cut the lead to 23-13 in the second quarter. Mack gave the Buckeye’s fits all day long, especially new right tackle Taylor Decker who struggled in his first start.
Ohio State answered right back with a 51 yard kick return by Wilson to the Buffalo 37. The very next play Jordan Hall scooted 37 yards into the end zone sending the Bucks into half up 30-13. Hall would end the day with a career high 159 yards on 21 carries.
There was a scary moment for the Scarlet and Gray in the first half as All-American linebacker Ryan Shazier was carted off the field. It was later reported it was severe cramping that was bothering Shazier and he was able to return to the field in the second half.
The defense gave up another touchdown to Buffalo early in the second half but the offense immediately answered with a 14 play, 91 yard drive by the Buckeye offense that featured both Miller and Guiton at quarterback. Guiton put the team in the end zone with a 21 yard TD to Chris Fields for his second touchdown catch of the day.
OSU would tack on a field goal in the 4th quarter to make the final score 40-20.
Braxton Miller did little to help or hurt his Heisman candidacy, carrying the ball 17 times for 77 yards and throwing for 2 scores going 15-22 through the air with an interception.
The Buckeyes host San Diego State next Saturday at 3:30 PM in The Horseshoe.