With football program immortality just off on the horizon, it’s 13 down and 11 to go for Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes — but not after a bit of a scare.
A 35-point(ish) favorite over MAC member Buffalo, OSU came out strong, stumbled a bit in the middle, then ultimately trudged away from Buffalo in a 40-20 win. The margin of victory is not exactly a surprise as the Bulls were coming off a 4-8 season that included seven double-digit losses; the fact that it was as close as it was late into the third quarter was.
Braxton Miller, the preseason Heisman favorite, was particularly sharp in the passing game, completing 15-of-22 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Known more for his legs than passing acumen, the junior had just 17 yards on 12 carries before a 41-yard run early in the fourth quarter; he finished with 78 yards on the ground. Jordan Hall, starting in place of the suspended Carlos Hyde, more than shoulder the running-game load, rushing for a career-high 159 yards and two touchdowns. Hall’s two scoring runs came from 49 and 37 yards out.
As a team, the Buckeyes totaled 458 yards of offense (259 rushing, 199 passing) while a defense that featured nine new starters held the Bulls to 265 yards.
The win wasn’t as easy as some had expected and the way final score seemed to indicate, however.
Trailing just 30-20 in the middle of the third quarter, the Bulls recovered a Miller fumble at OSU’s one-yard line on a third-and-eight play. That game-changing turnover, though, was negated by a Buffalo personal foul; the Buckeyes took the fortuitous call and turned it into a 91-yard touchdown drive that pushed the lead to 37-20 and, effectively, put the game out of reach — well, that along with the fourth-quarter goal-line stand by the OSU defense and Miller’s 40-plus-yard scamper a couple of plays later.
Despite that mild mid-game stumble, the Buckeyes have now won a nation’s best 13 consecutive games, a streak that stretches back to the first game of a 2012 season that saw the Buckeyes go undefeated but bowl-less thanks to NCAA sanctions. OSU now stands just 11 wins shy of breaking the school record of 23 set back in the late-sixties, and could potentially set the new program mark… in The Game against Michigan in the regular-season finale.
While such talk is premature at the moment, the Buckeyes have a very “manageable” schedule that finds them as one of five FBS teams that are, at the moment, favored in every game this season. Still, though, there are plenty of areas to work on before the Buckeyes can even begin to think of making history — and you can be certain that Meyer and his staff will stress that over what was an expected “W.”