There is an old adage in football that states "two quarterbacks equal no quarterbacks," and although that holds true for most teams, it does not hold true for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller left the game on a big hit at the end of a fourth down scramble during the Buckeyes first possession of the game. The hit knocked off Miller's helmet and left him laying on the field, holding both his head and his knee. For most teams, if the starting quarterback is forced to leave the game, the team falters. But as we have seen in the past, when team captain and back-up quarterback Kenny Guiton has had to replace Miller, the offense does not miss a beat. Guiton ran the offense to perfection, tallying 445 yards of total offense in a 42-7 victory, adding some much needed style points.
Coming off of last week's some-what unimpressive 40-20 victory versus Buffalo, the kick off unit and defense made a statement right away. With 104,000 fans in attendance at Ohio Stadium, San Diego State received the kick off and the ball carrier was brought down rather quickly at his own 12- yard line. The defense took the field with star cornerback Bradley Roby back from suspension and looked much faster than last week. The defense forced a three and out, giving the offense great field position after the Aztec punt.
The Buckeyes marched down the field rather easily until they faced a third and short inside the Aztec 15- yard line. Jordan Hall was stopped short and Coach Urban Meyer left his offense on the field to attempt to convert the fourth down play. Miller took the shotgun snap and scrambled down to the 7- yard line, converting the first down. Miller left the game on that play with what Coach Meyer called a slight sprain of the MCL. Miller returned to the sidelines before the end of the first half with a knee brace. Meyer said he could have returned if necessary but he would sit the rest of the game out with the score out of reach.
The Buckeye offense would continue the drive where it left off, with Guiton and freshman speedster Dontre Wilson executing the option to perfection, leading to Wilson's first career touchdown. Guiton is very impressive when it comes to his decision making and he showed this throughout the afternoon.
On the Aztec's next possession, quarterback Adam Dingwell threw an interception to cornerback Doran Grant, once again giving the Buckeyes excellent field position. The defensive line got a great push on the play and forced Dingwell to throw the pass earlier than he wanted to, leading to the turnover.
The offense did not take advantage of the Aztec mishap and eventually punted the ball back to San Diego State. The Buckeye defensive line, led by Michael Bennett and Noah Spence was stellar all day, as they pressured Dingwell (0-5 passing) into some bad throws. Without converting a first down on his first three drives, Coach Rocky Long substituted Dingwell after for the Junior transfer, Quinn Kaehler.
"Two quarterbacks equal no quarterbacks," this statement held true for the San Diego State Aztecs today.
In the next drive for the Buckeye offense, running back Rod Smith, also coming off of a one game suspension, got his first carry of the year, a four yard run. Smith finished the game with with 11 yards on three carries and he will have to earn back playing time through special teams and excellent days at practice as the season rolls on.
Following a third down conversion by Wilson, Guiton took a shot from an Aztec defender and hit Corey "Philly" Brown down the left sideline for a 27-yard touchdown. Brown fought double coverage in the end zone for the first of his two touchdowns on the day, he led the Buckeyes with 73 yards receiving on six catches.
The Buckeye defensive line welcomed the Aztec quarterback change, as Kaehler was sacked on third down, forcing another punt. Guiton closed the first quarter with yet another smart decision on the inside zone read, leading to a four yard Hall touchdown run. Guiton's football IQ is off the charts when it comes to reading the correct defender during the mesh point of the read option, something that Miller struggles with.
Holding a 182-3 yardage advantage at the end of the first quarter, Ohio State led San Diego State 21-0.
Guiton showed he was human in the second quarter, throwing an interception to cornerback Damontae Kazee, who made a great one handed catch on a throw that was intended for Devin Smith. The Aztec's converted their first, first down of the game on the next play with just over 12 minutes remaining in the second quarter, but could not get anything going, even with a 15-yard roughing the punter penalty on Ohio State, giving the Aztecs another life on the drive. Freshman defensive lineman Joey Bosa showed off his sideline speed, catching Kaehler on a third down scramble, forcing San Diego State to punt once again.
Wilson got the offense rolling again with a long run on an option play and then Guiton showed off his jets with a 44- yard designed quarterback run, going untouched to the end zone.
On the following drive by San Diego State, Michael Bennett and Noah Spence combined to strip sack Kaehler. The defense as a whole, created constant pressure on both quarterbacks, leading to two forced fumbled and two interceptions. The combination of Roby and Grant being able to play man coverage, allows the defense to play more aggressive, something we will be seeing for the remainder of the season, barring injury.
Leading 28-0 in the second quarter, Guiton led the offense down to the 1- yard line, where Smith hurdled the line and broke the goal line, resulting in his first touchdown of the season. The Buckeye defense then held San Diego State for the defense's second goal line stand of the season. Roby made a great open field tackle inside the 5- yard line before Grant deflected a pass in the end zone as time expired.
Guiton finished the first half 10-13 passing for 102 yards, he also ran for 68 yards on four carries. Not too shabby for a back-up quarterback as the Buckeyes led 35-0 at the half.
Coach Meyer talked about wanting to get the freshmen playing time in the first few out of conference games and with the lead insurmountable, Ezekiel Elliott (six carries for 36 yards) took the running back reins in the second half. The second half was mostly played conservative, excluding an amazing touchdown grab from Brown in double coverage, twisting and leaping in the air for his second score of the day.
Kaehler threw a touchdown pass late in the third quarter but it did not matter. The defensive line, the linebackers, led by Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant, and the defensive backfield played excellent for the Buckeyes. Coach Luke Fickell dialed up numerous blitzes and the team played very aggressive which was a change from last week's Buffalo game. The team did lose star defensive end Adolphus Washington in the game to a lower body injury and Coach Meyer will likely address his status during the week.
Most importantly, the Buckeyes extended the nation's longest winning streak to 14 games and they will be traveling to the west coast next Saturday, to take on the California Golden Bears. Though Meyer was noncommittal on Miller's status for next week saying, "I think there's a chance he'll be ready", Guiton seemed optimistic the Buckeyes' starter will be back. Though if the same Guiton we saw this week makes the trip to Berkeley, he might not need to.