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The Suburbanite
  • Buckeyes roll early, hang on to beat Buffalo 40-20

  • Unlike last year in the opener, it wasn’t the start that concerned Urban Meyer. On a sun-drenched Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium, Meyer wasn’t particularly upset with the finish of No. 2 Ohio State’s 40-20 win over Buffalo, either.

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  • Unlike last year in the opener, it wasn’t the start that concerned Urban Meyer. On a sun-drenched Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium, Meyer wasn’t particularly upset with the finish of No. 2 Ohio State’s 40-20 win over Buffalo, either.
    It was everything in between that had Meyer a bit frosty.
    “When you score 40 points out of almost 460 (yards) and you’re disappointed, that’s a good sign,” Meyer said. “And the bad sign is we’ve got a long way to go.”
    The Buckeyes looked like the second-ranked team in the country in the first quarter. Running a scripted offense for the first three drives, Ohio State scored on all three possessions and finished the first quarter with 216 yards in a balanced offense. Did it play like the second-ranked team in the country for four quarters?
    “No, it didn’t feel like (we were No. 2),” quarterback Braxton Miller said. “We have to keep working and come back strong.”
    After the strong offensive start, Ohio State hit a wall of mistakes. A special teams gaffe — a roughing the punter penalty — was followed by a missed fourth-down conversion at midfield, then a fumble and an interception returned for a touchdown by the Bulls, and well, Meyer didn’t need sunburn for a red face.
    “Momentum is an amazing thing in college football,” Meyer said. “The more mature your team is, momentum’s only about seven points. But if you’re immature, especially at certain areas, momentum is a 14-point shift.”
    Momentum belonged to the Buckeyes at the outset.
    Jordan Hall carried on three read option plays their first series, and on the fourth play, Miller hit Devin Smith in the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown. Kenny Guiton ran in the 2-point conversion out of a split formation for an 8-0 lead.
    The Buckeyes’ second series displayed just how good Miller can be. He was on fire. He hit much-hyped true freshman Dontre Wilson on a flare pass, and Wilson was tripped up for an 18-yard gain or he might have scored. Two plays later, Miller found Chris Fields — his fourth read — for 31 yards to the Buffalo 17. Miller hit Fields again, two plays later, for a 17-yard TD.
    Again, Buffalo failed to correctly cover OSU’s split PAT formation and Guiton hit Hall for the conversion pass and a 16-0 lead.
    Nothing changed on the Buckeyes’ third possession. A mix of Miller’s right arm and Hall got Ohio State to midfield. Hall then took a read option handoff 49 yards for a touchdown and a 23-0 lead.
    But the Buckeye offense seemed to lose steam in the 85-degree, humid weather. On fourth and 1, Meyer decided to go for it at his own 48. Taylor Decker missed a block and Hall was stopped for a loss. Meyer ripped off his headset, then chewed out Decker and the offensive line from the field to the sideline.
    Page 2 of 2 - However, at that point, starting center Corey Linsley was removed. He missed most of camp with a foot injury and Meyer didn’t want to risk further damage.
    “I thought about putting him back in,” Meyer said.
    Hall, playing in his fifth season because of a medical redshirt, had his finest day. He finished with 159 yards on 21 carries. But 86 yards came on two big chunks. On his other 19 carries, Hall averaged 3.8 yards a carry.
    “It’s good to see Jordan Hall do that for us,” Meyer said. “I think our running backs played OK.”
    After the defense got the ball back thanks to a Ron Tanner pick, Wilson fumbled a reverse that led to Buffalo’s first TD.
    Then, an inside screen intended for Wilson was sniffed out by Khalil Mack. He intercepted the pass and returned it 45 yards to cut Ohio State’s lead to 23-14.
    “It’s a blind throw,” Miller said. “I get it out of my hand quick. We’re supposed to chop him and missed. It was a good play by (Mack).
    “Momentum shifted a little bit.”
    Wilson made up for his fumble with a 51-yard kickoff return. Then Hall took the same handoff he scored on earlier and went 37 yards to the end zone for a 30-13 lead.
    Ohio State’s offense had 216 yards in the first quarter and 310 in the first half.
    Buffalo’s offense had the pleasure of playing against a young Buckeye defense. When Ryan Shazier, the only returning starter in the front seven, missed most of the middle of the game with cramps, the Buckeyes had 10 new players on the field.
    “It looked like it at times,” defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said.
    The outcome was never in question. Despite the messy middle, Meyer learned some things about his Buckeyes, who are 13-0 under him.
    “They’re fighters,” Meyer said. “Obviously our roster has taken some hits. … The negative is you need to sustain a consistent effort and intensity. The offensive line is something we rely on. I bet after I watch the film, I say they played OK, but the expectation level of that group is not OK. … We’re satisfied to win a game, but we have to get a lot better.”