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Buckeyes Buckeye Archive Buckeyes Survive Late Hoosier Heroics
Written by Dan Wismar

Dan Wismar

Brown Ind1The Indiana Hoosiers erased all but three points of an 18-point Buckeye lead in the final two minutes of the game, but their second onside kick attempt failed, and Ohio State held off their frantic comeback to stay unbeaten on the season, 52-49.

Ohio State (7-0, 3-0) came out on the winning end of a game with 101 points scored for the second week in a row, as Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde once again combined to rush for over 300 yards, but the shoddy defense by the Buckeyes took some of the luster off the victory. OSU receiver Devin Smith caught two long TD passes from Miller, and Bradley Roby scored his second touchdown in as many games when he recovered a blocked punt in the end zone.

The OSU defense played their starting fullback, Zach Boren, at linebacker for the first time in his college career, and he led the team in tackles for the game with eight. They gave up 481 total yards, including 331 yards (and 35 points) in the second half. After the game, Roby called the defensive performance “embarrassing”, and his head coach acknowledged the obvious. “Spread offensives are really exposing us right now,” Meyer said. “We have got to get something fixed.”

The Hoosiers (2-4, 0-3) have not tasted victory in a Big Ten game since 2010, but they came uncomfortably close to shocking the 8th-ranked Buckeyes when they scored two touchdowns within 35 seconds as the clocked ticked down to one minute to play.

The Melt

Smith Ind3OSU thought they were cruising to another high-scoring win when Smith stretched the lead to 52-34 on a 46-yard TD reception with just 6:47 to play. The teams traded punts before the Hoosiers began their unlikely stretch run with a 10-play TD drive. They drew within 11 points on a 12-yard strike from Nate Sudfeld to Duwyce Wilson with 1:40 left, and then lined up for the obligatory onside kick.

The onside attempt bounced over the sideline for an apparent penalty and possession for Ohio State. But officials ruled that an Indiana player had managed to catch the ball before it hit the ground and flip it back into the field of play to a teammate before his foot hit out of bounds. The replay official agreed, and awarded the ball to IU on the OSU 48.

Five plays and 35 seconds later, the Hoosiers were in the end zone again, and a successful 2-point conversion closed the gap to three points. Corey Brown, who had made the first big OSU play of the game with an opening drive touchdown, made an even bigger one on the second Hoosier onside kick attempt. He somehow managed to corral the football in the open field as the only Buckeye anywhere near it, and after the ball bounced over his head, as several Hoosiers were bearing down on him inside the OSU 35.

That’s how close the Buckeyes came to melting down completely, because had IU recovered, they would have had a full minute on the clock to maneuver to the tying field goal...or worse. A it turned out, the Buckeyes have somehow skated to a perfect 7-0 record despite a persistent habit of winning games in some of the ugliest ways possible.

Meyer said after the game he plans to become more personally involved with the defense after the way things have gone...and why not? The 103 points they have given up in their first three Big Ten games this year are more than the 102 they allowed in all eight conference games in Jim Tressel’s final season in 2010.

But 7-0.

Braxton Packing for New York

Braxton Ind2The Buckeye quarterback has been popping up in all the Heisman chatter in recent weeks, and his performance against the Hoosiers did nothing to temper the enthusiasm for the scintillating sophomore. The Indiana defense pursued well, with the intention of limiting the damage, and caught Miller behind the line several times for losses, but no one has been able to contain him completely, and his improvisation eventually hurt them.

Miller rushed for 149 yards on 23 carries, including a 67-yard touchdown run on an option play in the 3rd quarter. He was 13 of 24 passing for another 211 yards, and hooked up with Smith for TD’s of 60 and 46 yards. He threw the ball well enough to have two more scores, as Smith twice dropped perfectly thrown bombs that hit him in the hands.

Starting Fast?

The Buckeyes found themselves in unfamiliar territory with a 10-0 lead after half a quarter, but the Hoosiers proved resilient, as they would all night, getting right back in the game when Steven Houston bolted 59 yards off tackle, going virtually untouched for the first Indiana score. The OSU offense stalled, and Indiana stormed through to easily block Ben Buchanan’s punt after a 3-and-out on the ensuing possession. Before you could say “momentum swing”, Indiana had grabbed the lead at 14-10 on another rushing TD by Houston.

Ohio State moved the ball all night with relative ease, punting only twice, but missed scoring opportunities with mistakes of their own. Smith had his drops, and Drew Basil missed on a field goal attempt for the first time in four tries this season, as OSU tried to close the gap in the second quarter. It took a special teams play to swing the tide back in OSU’s direction.

The Buckeyes’ starting cornerbacks combined to retake the lead for OSU when Travis Howard crashed hard off the edge and laid out to block a Hoosier punt, and Roby fell on it for the go-ahead touchdown. When Miller hit Smith for a 60-yard TD strike just before the half, it looked as if the proper order of things had been restored, and OSU went to the locker room with a 24-14 halftime lead.

Defense Rests

Hyde Ind2IU cut the lead to seven with a field goal on their first second half drive, but it only took one play for Miller to reassert control. He got some help from the umpire, who sealed off a potential Hoosier defender on his 67-yard sprint on OSU’s first offensive snap of the half, but Miller passed 100 yards rushing on the play, setting an OSU record with his 8th career game over the century mark.

The game might never have gotten close at the end but for another missed opportunity by Miller and the OSU offense on their next 3rd quarter possession. With a 31-17 lead and a first-and-goal at the Indiana 3-yard line, they were positioned to go up by three touchdowns and prevent any late suspense.

But Miller stumbled out of his play fake on second down, and tried to force a short pass to a well covered receiver in the end zone, and had his throw picked off on a fine play by Hoosier safety Greg Heban. Three plays later, Cameron Coffman hit Cleveland’s Shane Wynn on a short crossing pattern, and Wynn raced 76 yards untouched for a touchdown. A potential three-score lead was down to seven, and Hoosier hope was alive.

The Buckeyes ran the ball pretty much at will, and scored touchdowns on their next three possessions. Included in that flurry of scoring was backup quarterback Kenny Guiton’s first career touchdown pass, a 14-yard score on a shovel pass to Carlos Hyde when Miller left the game briefly after a late hit by Indiana.

But the OSU defense wasn’t doing much defending during that stretch, and the Hoosiers added 10 points of their own. It was enough to stay within striking distance at 52-34. And strike they did.

Fixing A Hole

Another spread attack comes to Columbus next week as the Buckeyes continue their run through the mediocre Leaders Division with a date against disappointing Purdue. In the meantime, Meyer will try to right the ship on the defensive side of the ball.

He said doesn’t know exactly what form that will take...”I have to get more involved and find out what the issues are. I know injuries are an issue. When you take your starting fullback and start him at inside linebacker, you have a little problem. I don't think you can pinpoint one thing right now. I have got to find out.”

Things could be worse. The Buckeyes are unbeaten and in the nation’s Top Ten, deservedly or not. But if you’ve ever played a little linebacker, and have some college eligibility left, you might want to give Meyer a call.


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(photo credits -  Jim Davidson, Dan Harker -



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