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Buckeyes Buckeye Archive OSU Survives Upset Bid By UAB
Written by Dan Wismar

Dan Wismar

Braxton UAB7Ohio State remained unbeaten Saturday with a 29-15 victory over the Blazers from UAB, but OSU fans looking for signs of progress had little else to celebrate. Braxton Miller continued to carry the offensive load for the Buckeyes with two rushing touchdowns, but it was an otherwise lackluster performance for the Scarlet and Gray on both sides of the ball, and on special teams.

The Blazers (0-3) came into Columbus a 36-point underdog, and proceeded to out-play and out-coach the 16th-ranked and heavily favored Buckeyes for most of the afternoon. They gained more total yards than Ohio State (403-347), got more first downs (22-20), and dominated time of possession (33:55 - 26:05)

The Blazers blocked an OSU punt for a touchdown, pulled off a successful onside kick to start the second half, and shocked the assembled 105,019 by taking a 9-0 lead over the home team early in the second quarter. Urban Meyer, perhaps understating the case in his postgame comments, remarked, “It's glaringly obvious we've got to get a lot better or we won't win next week.”

Next week is the start of the Big Ten schedule with a crucial game in East Lansing against Michigan State, and at this point, only the decrepit overall state of the conference is cause for reassurance for these Buckeyes. They won unimpressively last week against Cal, and the pollsters dropped them from No. 12 to No. 16 for their trouble. There’s no telling how they might be punished for the way they looked in victory this week.

Wakeup Call

RodSmith UAB2Miller and the Buckeyes rallied from the early 9-0 deficit with three second quarter touchdowns in a span of less than six minutes. OSU threw the ball just once in a 10-play drive that ended when tailback Rod Smith (#2 at right) went in from a yard out to make it a 9-7 game. UAB immediately answered with a 54-yard field goal by Ty Long to extend the lead, but Miller was finally getting untracked.

He completed four consecutive passes on the ensuing Ohio State possession, and then finished the drive with a 12-yard TD run of his own, putting a nice spin move on a Blazer defender at the 5-yard line, and diving across the goal line for the Buckeyes’ first lead of the day at 14-12.

The Buckeyes got the ball back two plays later when UAB receiver Kennar Backman fumbled after a completed pass, giving OSU another shot at a score late in the half with the ball on the Blazers’ 32. Miller broke free for a 19-yard run and then hit Philly Brown with a completion down to the Blazer 2-yard line, and Zach Boren scored from there to stake OSU to a 21-12 halftime lead.

More of the Same

With the planets properly realigned, the Buckeyes were in the lead and receiving the second half kickoff, but UAB didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to roll over. The Blazers executed a perfect onside kick to open the half, and although their ensuing possession didn’t result in points, they had served notice that they would make it a 60-minute contest.

JordanHall UAB4First-year UAB coach Garrick McGee and his staff called an excellent game, running a variety of screens, counters, quick out throws, and a surprisingly effective power running attack that kept the OSU defenders spread out and off-balance. Once again the Buckeyes failed to tackle very well, and gave up a lot of yardage after initial contact. UAB had 14 plays that went for 10 yards or more in the game, including 32 and 21 yard gains on two 3rd and long downs in a nearly 8-minute drive for a field goal that cut the OSU lead to 21-15 in the 4th quarter.

By contrast, the OSU offense was fitful and erratic most of the day. Its lack of good execution was matched by a lack of imagination in play-calling. The tendency to blitz a lot by the UAB defense was something the Buckeyes had known about, yet often seemed unprepared for. Jordan Hall (#7 at right) ran for 105 yards on 17 carries, and looked quicker and more sure of himself this week, but when the Buckeyes needed a play to be made, there was little doubt that it was Miller Time. Unfortunately, the UAB defense knew it as well as anyone.

MIller finished 12 of 20 passing, for 143 yards, and his numbers would have been better but for a few drops by his receivers. He rushed 11 times for a net 64 yards and the two touchdowns.

One Last Shot at the Upset

OhioStadium UAB1The Blazers got the ball back down 21-15 in the 4th quarter with a chance to take the lead, but their drive stalled, and their fine young kicker Long finally missed a field goal, from 47 yards out.  From there Miller would drive the Buckeyes to the clinching score, engineering a 10-play drive and taking five minutes off the clock. Miller scored the game’s final eight points, running one yard for the TD, and then capping his day by dashing to the corner for a 2-point conversion to put OSU up 29-15.

The unthinkable....a home loss to an unranked opponent...was averted, and the Buckeyes joined Minnesota and Northwestern at 4-0 atop the Big Ten standings as the teams head into conference play.

After the game, Meyer reminded the assembled media that he did not exactly inherit a juggernaut in these Buckeyes, and the team is indeed a work in progress. He allowed that he thought his team would be further along at this point than they are, but he has some serious depth issues and is playing a lot of freshmen, especially on special teams. They played this game without starting defensive backs Bradley Roby and C.J. Barnett, but Meyer was the first to admit that his charges didn’t play well overall.

But he also reminded them that his team is 4-0, and that he’s proud of them for that, and for the way they play hard and compete. All of that while admitting that these Buckeyes “need to get better...and soon.”

That sounds about right. The Spartans looked anything but sharp in a shaky win of their own Saturday over winless Eastern Michigan, but they’ll have a jacked up home crowd behind them next week. Urban Meyer’s job is about to get much harder.


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(photo credits - Jim Davidson and Dan Harker -


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