COLUMBUS — During his press conference earlier this week, Miami (Ohio) head football coach Chuck Martin said that playing No. 6 Ohio State is like “going to recess and they have the first 85 picks.”
That comment didn’t sit well with former Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer, who still works for The Ohio State University and is prominently featured on the Fox Network pregame football show, “Big Noon Saturday.”
“I don’t know if I agree with making a public statement like that, whether you believe it or not,” Meyer said on Big Ten Network. “You don’t have to beat Ohio State, what you have to do is win a bunch of individual battles and hang in there in a game like that.”
Whether or not Meyer liked what Martin said, early on, the RedHawks came out and looked like a team that had as much talent as the Buckeyes (spoiler alert, they didn’t).
Linebacker Myles Reid forced a fumble for a safety following a Miami punt that pinned the Buckeyes deep, before the Miami offense drove down for a field goal (after being unable to punch it in on 1st-and-goal from the 2), in taking a 5-0 lead.
Led by quarterback Brett Gabbert, younger brother of QB Blaine Gabbert of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami looked sharp early, executing misdirection and option running plays, and isolating receivers 1-on-1 in space and hitting the quick slant.
“The first five, six minutes of the game weren’t great, so we’ll have a lot of things to clean up when we look at the film there,” said Ohio State head coach Ryan Day. “We also gave up a safety, but from then on, it was pretty dominant overall.”
Two plays into the second quarter, QB Justin Fields of Ohio State hit K.J. Hill on a 53-yard TD pass, and suddenly the Buckeyes were up, 14-5. When Gabbert threw a Miami interception on the next play, that set up a Fields’ TD run and the rout was on.
The Buckeyes took a 21-5 lead with 14:04 to go in the second quarter, and the RedHawks were on the ropes. By halftime, the Buckeyes were up 49-5, and the knockout punch had been delivered.
Maybe Martin was right on the money.
“Defensively we had, I think 10 straight drives where we stopped them 3-and-out, or something like that, and our offense got into a pretty good rhythm,” Day said. “When we create turnovers like we did, it makes all the difference in the world.”
Words such as “explosive” and “wow” about the Ohio State offense were heard in the press box in the first half. Fields continued to impress, throwing for four touchdowns and rushing for two ... in the second quarter. (He didn’t play in the second half).
Meanwhile, “suffocating” and “fast” were words being said about the Buckeye defense. (It didn’t hurt that Chase Young of Ohio State caused two Miami fumbles that led to a pair of short Ohio State touchdowns.)
“Going into the game, we felt like there would be opportunities for us to get turnovers,” said Day. “There were games earlier that we didn’t get them, we got them today.”
No one seemed to remember the RedHawks led 5-0 and had outplayed the Buckeyes early in the first quarter. When all was said and done, 103,190 fans watched Ohio State roll to a 76-5 victory, after both coaches agreed to stop play after a late lightning delay.
“Coach always tells us that at the beginning of each game we’re going to get punched in the face, but it’s all about how we respond,” said Fields, who was 14-of-21 passing for 223 yards and four TDs, and who rushed for 44 yards on nine carries with two TDs.
After steamrolling its first four opponents, the biggest questions currently facing Ohio State are: How will the Buckeyes fare under the lights when they hit the road to face a solid Nebraska team next week? And, can the Huskers pull off the upset?
“Going into Lincoln is going to be a big test,” said Day. “We know that (Nebraska head coach) Scott (Frost) does a really good job, their defensive coaches do a really good job, and they have a real good quarterback. Everyone knows it’s a hard place to play.
“But, we have to go into Lincoln and get a win,” added Day.
Pundits of Ohio State circled that matchup before the season even began, saying Nebraska could be the team that takes it to the Buckeyes like Iowa two years ago, and Purdue last season.
Only time will tell, but it will be interesting to see how Ohio State handles it’s first true road test, under the lights, in an environment that is sure to be hostile.
Just one of the many reasons why we love college football.