The Buckeyes March On

Ohio State won a big game yesterday, and did so in pretty convincing fashion.

The Buckeyes topped Miami, 36-24, and the game ended with the Buckeyes taking a knee deep in Miami territory.  It was an exciting game throughout, with two long returns for touchdowns by Miami, a blocked field goal by Ohio State, and four interceptions by the Buckeyes.  The Buckeyes defense got pressure on the Miami quarterback, bent but did not break, forced turnovers, and held a Hurricane offense with some potent weapons to one offensive touchdown.  The defensive line played very well — Cameron Heyward, in particular, will never forget his interception and 80-yard rumble down the field — and the linebackers and secondary made some big hits and had no big breakdowns.

On the offensive side of the ball, Terrelle Pryor played a fine game after a somewhat slow start.  Pryor clearly feels more comfortable with the deep ball at this stage in his career, and he made a terrific long throw to DeVier Posey.  But Pryor also made other good throws, like the wheel route touchdown pass to Brandon Saine.  More importantly, and unlike the Miami quarterback, Pryor had no turnovers.  And, of course, the additional dimension Pryor offers is his running ability.  His touchdown jaunt was vintage Pryor, and his runs helped the Buckeyes control time of possession and run out the last 7 minutes of the game.  In short, I think Terrelle Pryor is still a work in progress as a quarterback — but good progress is definitely being made.

The rest of the Buckeyes’ offense played a solid game.  The offensive line did a good job on pass protection, although the running game was a bit fitful.  Brandon Saine made a great catch on the wheel route touchdown, and Boom Herron ran with authority, notched a touchdown run, and had an excellent run after catching a shovel pass.

The special teams report was good and horrible.  The horrible was the two complete breakdowns on the Miami kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns.  The coverage was so bad that Jim Tressel quickly decided not to even kick long to Miami.  It’s humiliating to pooch kick in your own building, but the strategy at least kept Miami from getting other long returns.  On the other hand, Ohio State’s return game also looked good, with two near touchdowns — one apparently foiled when Jaamal Berry was tripped by a teammate — and the Buckeyes field goal kicker was 5 of 6.  From their return work, it looks like Jordan Hall and Berry also have great futures as OSU running backs.  Obviously, though, the kick and punt coverage needs work, and I’m sure it will be the focus of practices in the coming weeks.

All told, it was a good win, and should help to erase the lingering doubts about Ohio State’s ability to show up in big games and the quality of Big Ten football.  Next up is Ohio University.

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