Saturday, October 6, 2012
Instant analysis: Ohio St. 63, Nebraska 38
By Brian Bennett
Think the Big Ten is nothing but defense and plodders? Then you should have seen the track meet that No. 12 Ohio State and No. 21 Nebraska put on in Columbus, Ohio.
The Huskers looked ready to run early while building a 17-7 lead. But they ended up with cleat marks on their backs as the Buckeyes sprinted to a breathtaking 63-38 victory. NCAA sanctions might be the only way to prevent Ohio State from winning the Big Ten this year. Another superstar performance by Braxton Miller and another shaky Nebraska performance on the road -- especially on defense -- made the difference.
Here's how it went down:
It was over when: Corey "Philly" Brown returned a Nebraska punt 76 yards for a touchdown with 5:50 left in the third quarter. That put Ohio State up 49-31, and the Huskers never got any closer. Ohio State scored on special teams and on defense, as Bradley Roby had a 41-yard pick-six in the first quarter.
Game ball goes to: Ohio State quarterback Miller. Who else? The clear Big Ten MVP through six weeks, Miller was fantastic once again after a slow first quarter. He set a Buckeyes record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 185 yards on just 16 carries. He also threw for 127 yards and accounted for two touchdowns. Carlos Hyde also deserves recognition after rushing for 138 yards and four touchdowns.
Stat of the game: From early in the second quarter until Brown's punt return, Ohio State scored touchdowns on all six times it gained possession. The Buckeyes outscored Nebraska 42-17 during those two quarters.
Best call: Facing fourth-and-2 from the Nebraska 31 in the final minute of the first half, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer decided to go for it. And why not, when you have the best player on the field? Miller pulled off a beautiful quarterback counter run and sprinted all the way to the end zone for a 35-24 Buckeyes advantage.
What Nebraska learned: Some big home wins had Huskers fans hoping their team had turned the corner and were ready to win a conference championship this season. But old problems like playing defense on the road and hanging onto the ball reared their ugly heads yet again. In Nebraska's three biggest conference road games since joining the Big Ten (Michigan and Wisconsin last year, Ohio State on Saturday) it has been gashed for a combined 156 points, an unfathomable number for a program Bo Pelini supposedly has built on defense. And while Taylor Martinez made some huge plays for his team, the quarterback threw three interceptions, lost a fumble and reverted to some bad form at times. The Huskers simply can't be taken seriously as a Big Ten power until they plug the leaks on defense, eliminate turnovers and beat a league titan on the road.
What Ohio State learned: The Urban renewal looks ahead of schedule. Ohio State is clearly the best team in the Big Ten right now, and the scary part is, the Buckeyes are getting better. At 6-0 with a force of nature like Miller, Meyer's club should be ranked in the top 10 this week with a chance to climb higher. The Buckeyes likely will be 8-0 before heading to Penn State on Oct. 27. If their offense is as powerful as it looked against Nebraska, they're a real threat to run the table.