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Ohio State sent a message to the B1G Saturday night.
Woody Hayes once said 'there's nothing that cleanses the soul like getting the Hell kicked out of you'.
If that's true, Nebraska has the cleanest soul in the B1G this morning, and I for one couldn't be happier that Ohio State delivered the Sermon Of Urban.
I'm going to forgo the normal pattern of of the SMR, because when you depants a ranked team on national television, it's hard to nitpick. I mean seriously, we liked to bitch and moan after the 56-10 destruction of Miami in the season opener, but it was Miami, and it was the season opener.
This was something entirely different. If Jim Tressel's win over Michigan in 2001 was a program changing win for Ohio State then, I would argue that this was was the same program changing win for Ohio State now. This was as complete a team win that I can remember, from all facets of the game. And they also failed miserably at some point in the game as well.
Yet they still won by 25 points.
Let's look at each of the offense, defense, and special teams, and look at their game changing moments, good and bad.
The Good: Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde were phenomenal, gashing Nebraska for chunks of yards at a time, and OSU ran for a staggering 371 yards. Miller had 180 yards and two electrifying runs---one for 72 yards that sparked the offensive onslaught early in the second quarter, and a fourth down 31 yard TD run with under 30 seconds to go in the first half. And let me mention that play specifically. It was fourth and 2 from the Nebraska 31, and in years past, Jim Tressel would have kicked a field goal 107 times out of 100, and it was the smart, conservative play there. They were up by four and a FG puts them up by 7 going into the locker room. But Meyer is not that way. He went for it, and it paid off big. TE Jeff Heuerman had a breakout game, catching two passes for 53 yards and a TD. The 18 yard TD came on the heels of a Nebraska turnover that put OSU ahead for the first time, and his other reception was a 35 yarder that got the Bucks down to the Nebraska 1.
The Bad: The first quarter started off slowly, OSU went down 17-7 early, and the game really teetered on the edge of disaster for about the first 17 or 18 minutes of gametime. They couldn't do anything right, and went three and out on their first four possessions. The passing game was fairly pedestrian, but it didn't need to be anything more. Miller and Hyde ran wild, so I'm not going to say the passing game was bad.
The Good: The Silver Bullets came out of the locker room with their hair on fire. John Simon had a big early sack, neither Martinez or RB Rex Burkhead found running lanes, and the Buckeyes forced several turnovers, to include a Bradley Roby pick 6 which gave the Buckeyes the lead. For most of the second half they were stout when they needed to be, forced Nebraska into coughing up the ball four times, and converted three of those into touchdowns. Take away Rex Burkhead's 72 yard rumble in the second quarter, and Nebraska had 151 yards rushing. Not great, but not terrible when you consider how dynamic a running attack Nebraska has.
The Bad: The thing is, you can't take away that 72 yard run, and 223 yards rushing is not acceptable for a defense that wants to play at a championship level. After Burkhead's big run, the defense fell apart for the better part of two quarters, and the momentum they started with Roby's pick 6 was stunted. They also gave up an opening drive touchdown to start the second half, and that allowed Nebraska to get back within four points.
The Good: I would argue the nail in the coffin for Nebraska was Philly Brown's 71 yard punt return for a TD that put the Buckeyes up 49-31 in the third quarter. You could sense the momentum was swinging back to Ohio State at that point, and that pretty much secured the win. Nebraska had scored on their opening possession of the second half, but the Buckeyes answered with a 10 play scoring drive of their own to put them back up by 11. On Nebraska's ensuing possession, Storm Klein sacked Martinez which forced a three and out. Then, BOOM. Ball game. You could sense Nebraska just deflated, and Ohio State poured it on.
The Bad: Late in the first quarter, Nebraska was up 14-7 and the offense was sputtering. They had gone three and out on all their possessions, and the defense was being gashed by Nebraska. In an effort to change the momentum and keep the defense off the field, Meyer called for a fake punt from his own 25. It failed, but the defense held Nebraska to a field goal. That could've been a huge momentum swing in the game had Nebraska scored a TD there, and OSU dodged a huge bullet.
Overall, this was one of the funnest games I can ever remember watching. There were moments of great defense, explosive offense, and when OSU got rolling, they didn't stop until they had completely depantsed Nebraska. This team is starting to come together, and this was a glimpse of what they're capable of.
If I was the rest of the B1G, I'd be afraid. Very, very afraid.