Buckeyes Sleepwalk to Listless Victory Over Indiana
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Trailing Indiana 10-0 in the first quarter of Saturday’s game at Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes needed a spark to wake them up.
That’s when Braxton Miller kicked in like a shot of espresso.
Braxton Miller heads up the field for an 81 yard touchdown.
Photo by Jim Davidson
The freshman quarterback went 81 yards on one play for Ohio State’s first touchdown. He would add another 20-yard touchdown run in the third quarter as Ohio State (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) overcame a slow start for a 34-20 victory over last-place Indiana (1-9, 0-6).
“I thought that was something we needed early in the game when things were kind of slow,” center Michael Brewster said.
“That’s the kind of thing Braxton can do. It’s great to have guys who can run the ball like that because breaking a big run is demoralizing on the defense.”
Miller’s run was the longest ever for a Buckeye quarterback. He finished with 105 yards on the ground and was one of three Ohio State players—along with Boom Herron and Carlos Hyde—to crack the century mark against the Hoosiers, who are still searching for their first win in conference play.
“People know we can run and that’s what we did today,” Brewster said after OSU had three 100-yard rushers for the first time in 22 years.
“If we have to put the game on our shoulders we can do that. When we get down in the red zone we have to score a touchdown.”
Ohio State was coming off an emotional high from an exhilarating 33-29 victory over Wisconsin last week and did not seem to have the same life against the visiting Hoosiers. Sophomore Drew Basil kicked the opening kickoff out of bounds and Miller was stripped from behind on OSU’s first offensive series of the game.
“Going into the week, even before Saturday, I thought the key was for us to come out with some poise after a big game, some energy,” Ohio State Head Coach Luke Fickell said.
“And I'm not sure that obviously that showed to start with. Maybe our youth showed up a little bit in that, and you try and stay after them as much as you can, but we needed to come out with a little bit more energy, have some poise because you know on that offense they're going to make some plays and continue to battle.”
The Buckeyes looked tired and sluggish from their Wisconsin hangover and the Hoosiers were hungry to take advantage. Using Kevin Wilson’s zone-read attack, Indiana drove down the field for a touchdown following the Miller fumble and suddenly the Buckeyes were in trouble against a team they haven’t lost to since 1990s.
The two teams were tied at 13 going into halftime following the big run by Miller and a pair of field goals from Basil, who has now made 12 in a row. The Buckeyes struck first in the third quarter on a 15-yard touchdown run by Herron, who led the Buckeyes with 141 yards on 14 carries.
“I was very happy to get it going today,” said Herron, who has rushed for over 100 yards in each of his three games since returning from suspension.
“The offensive line made it happen. They opened holes for me which I found and just went.”
The Hoosiers came back with a touchdown of their own just over three minutes later. Much like Jared Abbrederis last week, sophomore Kofi Hughes waltzed into the end zone for a 34-yard score on a busted coverage by the Buckeyes.
“We sent a corner blitz and it was a cover-2 to the field. We didn’t really get a reroute so there was a lot of pressure on our far corner to split two receivers,” cornerback Travis Howard said.
“The receiver ran away from him because both of them ran the go route and he had to play the middle. They were able to throw it down the seem. It was good read by the Indiana coaches to notice what scheme we were in.”
The Buckeyes took a 27-20 lead on Miller’s 20-yard touchdown run, which came on third-and-goal, but they still hadn’t sealed the victory until Howard intercepted Tre Roberson late in the fourth quarter.
“I locked eyes with the receiver and the quarterback,” Howard said.
“I was just, like, ‘There’s no way he’s going to throw that pass.’ I was able to run over there and make a great interception.”
Two plays later it was Hyde bursting through a giant hole on the right side for a 47-yard run. It looked like he scored on the play, but the referees called him out back at the seven-yard line. Hyde would eventually score on a 2-yard touchdown run to give the Buckeyes a 34-20 win over Indiana.
“He’s a great guy who’s working hard and getting better every week,” Herron said of Hyde, who was filling in for an injured Jordan Hall (ankle) as the No. 2 tailback.
“He’s got a great future ahead of him. It was really nice to see him do a great job. I told him to be patient and it would all come. It was great to see him take advantage of the opportunities given to him today.”
Ohio State had a late scare when Braxton Miller was forced to leave the game after getting drilled on third down, but the freshman had his abdomen wrapped and came back in to finish out the victory.
The Buckeyes travel to Purdue next week before closing out the season with games against Penn State and Michigan. A Big Ten championship is still within their grasp, despite the slow start Saturday against the Hoosiers.
Two Minute Drill Postgame
10 Things We Learned
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