Instant analysis: Ohio State 31, UCF 16
September, 8, 2012
By Austin Ward | ESPN.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer might have a few more teaching points.
But the Ohio State coach will again have the benefit of cleaning up issues after a win.
The Buckeyes had communication issues on both offense and defense and had some problems with penalties, but they had more than enough firepower to make up for it as they beat Central Florida 31-16 on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
It was over when: Another tipped ball found its way into the hands of an Ohio State defender early in the third quarter, giving possession and good field position to Braxton Miller. The sophomore quarterback needed only three plays to produce another rushing touchdown, his third of the game, putting the Buckeyes firmly in control with a 31-10 lead.
Game ball goes to: Miller did it all on offense again, shouldering even more of the load in the process.
With starting running back Carlos Hyde limited with a knee injury, Miller had the success of the rushing attack and the football in his hands all afternoon against a respected UCF defense.
He finished with 296 total yards and was responsible for all four touchdowns, three of them on the ground.
Stat of the game: Meyer suggested 17 carries were too many for Miller last week, but the quarterback added 10 more to that total in his second outing of the season.
Ohio State might not have had much choice with its top two running backs on the sideline in street clothes in the second half, but keeping Miller healthy could be tough if he keeps getting so much work.
How the game was won: The defense had a few breakdowns in the secondary and was pushed around on a few big rushing plays, but the Buckeyes were opportunistic again in the turnover battle.
Of the three interceptions Ohio State snagged, two supplied short fields for the offense, and Ohio State capitalized both times with touchdowns to swing the momentum in its favor and build a lead that provided some late wiggle room.
What it means: UCF looked like the toughest test on Ohio State’s nonconference slate, and it certainly didn’t roll over even after falling behind by three scores.
The Knights were physical and fundamentally sound, and provided real challenges on both sides of the ball for the Buckeyes, which revealed plenty about Urban Meyer’s team early in his first season.
The most important development, though, continues to be how perfect Miller is for the offense. Even with some bumps in the road, he bailed the Buckeyes out with another dynamic outing.