NCF Nation: Huskers-Buckeyes-100612


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When Urban Meyer met his new team, he talked about goals without restraint.

It's the kind of confident approach a coach can take when he already owns two national championships. At Ohio State, Meyer told his players, anything was possible.

"He told us when he first got here, 'It will happen. We can score 100 points,'" Buckeyes offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said. "He loves it. He's crazy. He would score 100 every game if he could."

Ohio State didn't score 100 on Saturday night. It settled for 63 despite enduring a first quarter Meyer accurately described as a "train wreck" -- zero first downs, 13 plays, 17 total yards.

The Buckeyes' first act was a dud against No. 21 Nebraska. And then they treated a record crowd of 106,102 at Ohio State to a show they won't soon forget. Sparked by do-it-all quarterback Braxton Miller and a surging offensive line, Ohio State scored its first offensive touchdown with 10:49 left in the first half and didn't stop for five more possessions.

Six consecutive touchdowns turned into a 63-38 win, keeping Ohio State perfect under Meyer and leaving no doubt as to who is the Big Ten's top team in 2012. Even with the outcome long sealed, Meyer kept his starters in the game in the end for a final touchdown with 48 seconds left.

"It's cool," Mewhort said. "He's always hungry for more."

The Big Ten will do all it can to market its championship game Dec. 1 in Indianapolis. But it'll be like Bert Parks singing "There she is, Miss America" about the first- and second-runners-up in the pageant. Ohio State is by far the prettiest girl in a league filled with teams that shouldn't see the light of day.

The title game might be the Big Ten's big showcase, but it won't feature the league's main event, which will be watching from home because of NCAA sanctions. Although the division races should provide plenty of entertainment, if you're interested purely in quality and the story lines that go along with it, watch Ohio State chase a perfect season and, who knows, maybe an AP national championship. Watch Miller push for the Heisman Trophy. Watch the Buckeyes offense take aim on Meyer's stated goal of triple digits in points.

"We're just getting better and better," said Buckeyes cornerback Bradley Roby, who got the scoring started with 41-yard interception return, the first of his two picks on the night. "We're young, we're talented, and I can't see us losing a game this year. We're taking it one game at a time, but seriously, we're really trying to take it to everybody we play.

"I feel like this is going to be a good year, and next year will be even crazier."

[+] EnlargeCarlos Hyde
Greg Bartram/US PresswireCarlos Hyde bulls through the Nebraska defense for one of his four touchdowns.
Ah, next year. Ohio State will have no bowl ban, another full offseason under Meyer and more Meyer recruits in key roles. Are the Buckeyes on the national championship radar? Time will tell, but look where they are six games into Meyer's tenure.

Ohio State eviscerated a Nebraska team led by a head coach (Bo Pelini) respected for designing and developing defenses. The Buckeyes racked up 56 points, 481 yards and 19 first downs in the final three quarters Saturday night. They completed just seven passes to only four receivers, led by a sophomore tight end (Jeff Heuerman) who made one catch in 2011. They generated 326 rush yards and five touchdowns from two players -- Miller and running back Carlos Hyde, filling in for injured starter Jordan Hall -- plus a 33-yard scoring run from Rod Smith.

Keep in mind, this isn't a Buckeyes team stocked with proven weapons. Ohio State finished 107th nationally in total yards in 2011.

But does anyone want to face Ohio State's offense after what it did to Nebraska?

After some early speed bumps, Ohio State's offense is progressing ahead of schedule.

"You're playing a tight end [Reid Fragel] at right tackle," Meyer said, "playing a bunch of guys who haven't played a lot of football, and, being as honest as I can, they weren't very good. They didn't look the way we wanted them to look in January. ... They're the ones that have really developed. I mean, like really developed. Even early in the season, I didn't feel it.

"I'm starting to feel us change the line of scrimmage."

Although the spread offense is often described as a finesse system, Meyer always has talked about being a power team first. The past two weeks, Ohio State has turned the corner.

The big numbers didn't come against Michigan State, but the line's performance set the table for Saturday night's show.

"The O-line," Miller said, "they stepped it up real big."

Miller did his part, too. The sophomore broke his own team single-game quarterback rushing record with 186 yards despite finishing the first quarter with minus-9. He sparked the unit with a 72-yard dash on Ohio State's first play of the second quarter and continued to fill up his Heisman highlight reel.

With four 100-yard rushing performances in the first six games, Miller ranks second in the Big Ten in rush yards (763) and third in rushing average (127.2 ypg).

"We have a quarterback, obviously, that's kind of ridiculous running the ball," Meyer said.

Hyde wasn't too shabby, either, using his frame to bulldoze the Huskers, particularly near the goal line. He recorded Ohio State's first four-touchdown rushing performance since Eddie George had four against Iowa in 1995.

When Meyer arrived, Hyde envisioned big things for the offense.

"When he was at Florida, those guys would put up crazy numbers," Hyde said. "I know if we could get going like how they were getting going down there, we can do the same."

After the game, Meyer was cautious to get carried away, noting, "We're not there. We have a long way to go." But the talk of an undefeated season will escalate, as Ohio State continues its path through a weak league. The Heisman talk around Miller will escalate. The talk of next year and what the Buckeyes can do also will escalate.

The spotlight will shift to Indianapolis on Dec. 1. Until then, it'll be on the Scarlet and Gray.
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.

It's game day at Ohio Stadium

October, 6, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nebraska visits Ohio State searching for its first signature road win as a member of the Big Ten. Ohio State wants to keep its perfect record alive in a year where the regular season is all that matters.

Saturday night's game between the 21st-ranked Huskers (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) and 12th-ranked Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0) might come as close to a Big Ten showcase opportunity as we'll get in 2012. Both teams come off of hard-fought wins to open league play, as Nebraska rallied to beat Wisconsin in Lincoln, while Ohio State held off Michigan State at Spartan Stadium.

As I noticed on my flight from Chicago late last night -- and into this morning, flight from hell, I tell ya -- there will be a lot of red in the building tonight. Not surprisingly, Nebraska fans have traveled in large numbers, and Ohio State is encouraging its fans to wear scarlet for homecoming. The Shoe will resemble an inferno, one Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez must handle after struggling in his recent games away from Lincoln. Martinez was masterful last year against Ohio State, leading the largest comeback in Nebraska history, as the Huskers erased a 27-6 deficit and won 34-27. Most of the comeback took place after Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller suffered an ankle injury and didn't return. Miller had some success against the Huskers last year, and he's obviously a lot better in 2012. So is Martinez, who led last week's comeback against the Badgers.

Ohio State will be without top running back Jordan Hall (knee), as Carlos Hyde will get the start. Safety C.J. Barnett (ankle) should return after missing the past two games. Nebraska enters the game healthy for the most part.

Tonight is a significant moment for Bo Pelini and the Huskers program, which hopes to turn a corner in its new league. A win would validate Nebraska as the Big Ten's top team and give the Huskers confidence for tough division road games against Northwestern, Michigan State and Iowa. After embarrassing losses at both Wisconsin and Michigan last year, the Huskers can show they can beat a good team in a very tough setting. It would be extra special for Pelini, who played at Ohio State and grew up in Youngstown, Ohio.

The weather should be nice tonight: temperatures in the high 40s, cloudy but no rain and calm winds.

Should be a great one. Follow us on Twitter and check the blog for updates throughout the night.