Over the off-season in Columbus, OH, a catchy tagline around the Ohio State football program was that the club was in the midst of an “Urban Revival.” Urban Meyer’s arrival at the school provided a fresh start for both a team that went 6-7 last season, and for a man who nearly coached himself to death in his previous job at Florida.
Simply put, things had to change for both sides.
And if Saturday’s 56-10 victory over Miami (OH) to open the season was any indication, it appears as though they did. The Buckeyes were hardly perfect Saturday, but for a program playing for their third head coach in three years, and without the possibility of going to a bowl game, they went about as well as anyone could’ve expected. Most importantly, Ohio State is 1-0.
Speaking of the expected, the difference in the game ultimately came down to one simple fact: Ohio State had Braxton Miller and Miami didn’t. The sophomore- who showed flashes of both brilliance and immaturity over the course of an up-and-down freshman year- gave Ohio State fans just about everything they could’ve asked for Saturday afternoon. He completed 14 of 24 passes for 207 yards with a pair of touchdowns, and also racked up 167 yards on the ground as well. In the process, he became the first Buckeyes quarterback to rush and pass for at least 150 yards in a game since the 2000 season.
But while Meyer’s calling card has always been his offense, people seem to forget that his defenses were always top notch at Florida as well. It is a trend that Meyer seems to have brought with him to Columbus, and is what could be the difference for this team going forward.
While Miller may be slowed by better Big Ten teams, the Ohio State defense looks ready to compete with anyone in the conference. Up front, defensive lineman John Simon did a bunch of John Simon like things (mainly terrorizing Miami quarterback Zac Dysert) and Ohio State’s secondary did the rest. Travis Howard finished with two interceptions, while Bradley Roby was all over the field to clean up everything else. While Miller was the star, it was the defense that was possibly most impressive Saturday.
Of course this is just one win, and even the margin of victory was 46 points, there is still plenty of work for Meyer and his staff to tend to.
As good as the defensive backs were covering the short routes, Dysert was able to complete a few passes deep, including a 44-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter. On offense, Miller is much more developed from last year, but still lacks the touch on his passes that will only come with even more game reps. Miller may have completed 14 of 24 passes, but a few were courtesy of some spectacular efforts by his receivers. In particular, Devin Smith may have made the best touchdown catch we’ll see all year for the Buckeyes first touchdown of the season. It did however come on a wobbly throw by Miller.
Still, it’s hard to argue that this was anything but a great day to be a Buckeye.
The Buckeyes might not be able to go to a bowl game in 2012.
But they did establish themselves as one of the teams to beat in this league.
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