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Last updated: 09/10/2012 2:33 AM

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Best of the Day: Top Plays and Players from Saturday’s Win

By Brandon Castel

There was plenty to write about during and after Ohio State’s 31-16 win over Central Florida Saturday, but we decided to focus on the key players, best plays, storylines and even some newsworthy Tweets from the second weekend of college football.

Top Six Players

Braxton Miller
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

1. OSU QB Braxton Miller — In reality, Miller probably deserves the top three spots on this list for his performance Saturday against UCF. That’s not to see it was perfect, or even close to perfect, but he was a one-man show for most of the game as the Buckeyes took home a 31-16 victory. Miller rushed for 141 yards – at one point he was on pace to break his own school record (161) set last week – and scored all four touchdowns for the Buckeyes. He threw one to TE Jake Stoneburner and carried the other three across the goal line himself. His 37-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was a thing of beauty, but the Buckeyes were forced to run him an OSU quarterback-record 27 times in the victory.

Ohrian Johnson
Photo by Dan Harker
Ohrian Johnson

2. OSU DB Orhian Johnson — There were a lot of guys who made plays for the OSU defense Saturday, but nobody seemed to have a bigger impact on that side of the ball than Johnson. Not many people would have projected that coming into the year, but Johnson has always had the size and athleticism to be a great defensive back. He impressed Meyer enough in practice to get the nod as the nickel back ahead of Corey Brown, and Meyer turned out to be right. Johnson had a key interception in the red zone, he recorded six tackles – including five solo stops – and also deflected another pass that was intercepted by LB Etienne Sabino. It was by far Johnson’s most effective game at Ohio State.

Corey Linsley
Photo by Jim Davidson
Corey Linsley

3. OSU C Corey Linsley — It’s not often a center gets recognized for a fine performance, but Linsley played the game of his career on Saturday. That’s not saying much, because he isn’t a guy who played a whole lot before Meyer got to Ohio State, but he was incredibly effective against UCF’s duo of 300-pound defensive tackles. He seemingly moved Jose Jose and E.J. Dunston around at will in the first half as OSU was able to establish Carlos Hyde on the inside run game. He also did a good job calling out the protections and keeping Braxton relatively upright most of the day against an aggressive Knights defense.

4. UCF RB Storm Johnson — Coming into the game, everyone was talking about the absence of starting tailback Latavius Murray, but Johnson did a nice job filling in against the Buckeyes. He only finished with 75 yards on 12 carries, but one of them was a 48-yard burst down the right sideline that nearly went the distance. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry and did an excellent job pushing the pile and carrying defenders on a few of his runs against the OSU defense. He also caught a 20-yard pass out of the backfield on UCF’s first touchdown drive.

5. UCF DB Kemal Ishmael — On the other side of the ball, it was hard not to notice UCF safety Kemal Ishmael. He seemed to be all over the field making plays against the Buckeyes. He had a near interception of Miller, and also finished with 10 tackles and fumble recovery.

6. OSU WR’s Philly Brown and Devin Smith — Lost in Miller’s big day was another fine showing from Ohio State’s two starting wideouts. It’s clear Brown and Smith have established themselves as the two key guys in OSU’s passing game, though Jake Stoneburner also made a nice play on the 20-yard touchdown. Smith and Brown each finished with six catches, totaling more than 100 yards of offense. Brown also had a fancy 19-yard reverse, and he will likely get a chance to carry the ball more against Cal this week with Hyde and Jordan Hall likely out of action.

Five Biggest Plays

Braxton Miller sets sail on a 37-yard touchdown run.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

1. Maybe the biggest play of the game came early in the first quarter. The Buckeyes drove the ball inside UCF territory on their first possession of the game, setting up a 2nd-and-8 at the UCF 37-yard line. The Buckeyes spread the field and Meyer went to a designed QB run for Miller up the middle. He took off untouched through the left side of UCF’s defense and got a key block from Stoneburner that allowed him to walk into the endzone untouched for a 37-yard touchdown run. It gave Ohio State an early 7-0 lead and set the tone for Miller’s big day on the ground.

2. With the game tied 10-10 late in the first half, OSU cornerback Travis Howard intercepted UCF quarterback Blake Bortles. It came just two plays after the Knights had gotten the ball out near midfield on a botched handoff exchange between Miller and Zach Boren. The Buckeyes’ drive was stalled by a penalty for too many men on the field, setting up a 3rd-and-16 at the UCF 30-yard line. That’s when Miller took off on a 24-yard scamper to pick up the first down with 21 seconds left in the half. He took it into the end zone himself on the next play to capture the momentum heading into halftime.

3. After driving the Buckeyes down the field on the first possession of the second half, Miller found himself in a 2nd-and-8 situation at the UCF 12-yard line. When he caught the snap from Linsley, there was already a defender closing in on him. Miller side-stepped the first guy and evaded the second, looking back across the field, where he was able to spot Stoneburner breaking towards the southeast corner of the end zone. Miller threw a perfect touch pass over the hands of a UCF defender and into Stoneburner for the touchdown to make 24-10 Buckeyes.

4. On the ensuing kickoff, it was freshman Jamal Marcus who ran down the field and stopped Rannell Hall at his own the 16-yard line. Two plays later, Bortles pass was tipped by Orhian Johnson and intercepted by Sabino at the UCF 34 yard line. That set up another Braxton Miller touchdown run, this time over the left guard, as Ohio State went ahead 31-10 midway through the third quarter.

5. Miller was intercepted by UCF defensive back A.J. Bouye at the OSU 39-yard line on Ohio State’s final drive of the third quarter. It looked liked a tired pass from Miller, who missed a wide-open Corey Brown running down the seam, only to throw a perfect pass to Bouye instead. It gave the Knights a stay of execution, but it would be temporary. Bortles drove them down inside the OSU 10, down to the nine yard line, where he faced a 3rd-and-5 early in the fourth quarter. That’s when he was intercepted by Orhian Johnson to give the Buckeyes the ball back and all but end any threat to the outcome of the game. 

Top Five Tweets

@smartfootball Ohio State's offense is like one for a disorganized backyard team that just happens to have really good players

@FSOhioZJackson 1st and 10, best play: Run Braxton. 3rd and 16, best play: Run Braxton.

@GerdOzone Orhian Johnson's best game ever. Including that time in Pee Wee when he trucked little Tommy Simpson and made him cry. #Soft

@PDBuckeyes Braxton Miller is a very good FB player. He will only get better. Right now, he is not quite as good as his stats this year indicate.

@jasonwinrow A Michigan fan said to me yesterday "the Buckeyes play no one". UCF are the Patriots in comparison to Air Force.

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