Two short weeks ago, Ohio State beat Alabama-Birmingham, 29-15. There was some panic, considering the way Ohio State’s other three non-conference games played out. Those fears are now long gone.
In the past two weeks, the Buckeyes have defeated two ranked teams with Saturday night’s 63-38 shellacking of Nebraska ranking among the most impressive wins versus ranked opponents in school history.
The undefeated meter is checked and rechecked every week. Now at 6-0, Ohio State’s chances of going through the season unblemished are as realistic as they’ve been all year. Entering Madison 10-0 looks like a mortal lock. If that happens and the Buckeyes win, it all comes down to the Michigan game.
Urban Meyer had been pointing to Saturday’s game for a couple weeks, asking the fans to make it an inferno for Nebraska. After finally coaching in a night game at Ohio Stadium, he was pleased with the atmosphere.
“I want to give a lot of thanks to our crowd – the Buckeye Walk, the skull session. That was one of the great evenings in Columbus, in Ohio State,” Meyer said. “I really appreciate that.”
Contrary to the final score, Ohio State did not get off to a great start offensively. The first touchdown came via a pick-six by Bradley Roby, and the Buckeyes didn’t get their first first down until the second quarter.
“I thought the first quarter was a trainwreck for our offense,” Meyer said. “It was a dark day there for that first quarter.”
Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde each had career rushing days, Miller finishing with 186 yards and a touchdown and Hyde tallying 140 yards and four touchdowns. Ohio State had 371 rushing yards in the game.
“Our offensive line eventually took over that game,” Meyer said. “And we have two good runners right now. We have a quarterback, obviously, that's kind of ridiculous running the ball, and then Carlos Hyde is a guy that is starting to earn a lot of respect other than that darn fumble.”
“We don’t have a lot of depth, but Coach (Ed) Warinner and those guys have something going now.” Meyer said. “They’re changing the line of scrimmage against some very good defensive lines. The last two we played, those are very good defensive lines.”
“My guys right now are that offensive line,” Meyer said. “I just love them to death. To see what they did tonight and see their reaction in there and know what they've gone through.”
Again 371 yards rushing. Against Nebraska. Even though it’s not a real Blackshirt defense, the numbers are not diminished. The Husker are still a ranked opponent.
“You can see what we are. We’re kind of a pound ya offense right now,” Meyer said. “I don’t mind that. I’ve not had a lot of those. But that’s a pound ya offense.”
Hyde is also a fan of his teammates on the line.
“I have to give all the credit to the offensive line,” he said. “If they didn’t do their job, we wouldn’t have been able to run for 300-plus yards. They were great tonight.”
As if the game itself wasn’t big enough, the weekend also was for recruiting. A night game atmosphere at Ohio State against a highly regarded opponent is prime recruiting territory.
“We had a bunch of recruits in that locker room afterwards,” Meyer said.
Braxton Miller felt the fans did their part.
“Man, the fans were electric,” he said. “When the defense was out there, they were just so loud. That’s what I think what was bothering Nebraska on offense a little bit. I could hear (the crowd), definitely.”
Nebraska’s right guard, Spencer Long, said the noise affected the Cornhuskers on offense.
“The crowd noise was a definite factor,” he said. “But it’s tough to win when you beat yourself. We have to get better.”
The Nebraska offense got off to a good start in the opening quarter and a half, even with Taylor Martinez’s interception that was returned for a touchdown. In the second quarter, Ohio State finally got some life and the defense went from there.
“We felt that we had control the whole game, but once the offense scored, we knew we couldn't let them score,” linebacker Ryan Shazier said. “We felt they couldn't stop our offense tonight. We knew if we stopped them and the offense started scoring, they couldn't stop them.”
Hyde said entering the game he knew the potential was there for a big output.
“I watched the UCLA(-Nebraska) game and (UCLA’s) running back had 200-plus yards against them," Hyde said "So I knew there would be opportunities.”
Miller on the 63 points:
“I could imagine some kind of points like this some day.”
That’s what Miller thought when Meyer was hired. It finally happened – against Nebraska, no less.
Roby talked all week about getting an interception. He not only got one but two, and one of the them went for a touchdown.
“I dreamed about that,” he said. “I saw it. My dad texted me and was like, ‘I had a dream you had a pick-six today.’ I was like, ‘Damn, I'm going to get it. I had the same dream.’”