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September 1, 2012
Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Urban Meyer is the 24th coach in Ohio State football history, but none of his predecessors' debuts had been more highly anticipated.
And Meyer didn't disappoint Buckeye Nation on Saturday.
After a sluggish start that "embarrassed" the three-time national coach of the year, the Buckeyes found their groove. Ohio State, ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press poll, scored all of its points in the final three quarters and rolled to a 56-10 victory over Miami University before a crowd of 105,039.
"Very pleased with the win," Meyer said. "But the first quarter was very good on our end.
"I want to say I was embarrassed with the way we were playing."
Sophomore Braxton Miller didn't look particularly sharp in the beginning. But he took the reins of Meyer's spread offense and settled in as the game progressed.
Miller broke loose for a 65-yard touchdown run to start the second-half onslaught and finished with 161 rushing yards, setting a school record for a quarterback.
"I'll just say the first quarter just threw us off a lot," Miller said. "We came out there not attacking the things that we really wanted to attack, and I think the second quarter we got it under control."
Miller tied Cornelius Greene with a school-record fourth career 100-yard rushing game for a quarterback. Terrelle Pryor had seven, but four were vacated as an ineligible player in 2010.
As a passer, Miller was more than respectable, completing 14 of 24 for 207 yards and two TDs with no interceptions in three quarters of work.
"That's not good enough for what we expect out of him," Meyer said. "I saw a couple of the curveballs he threw down the field. But he'll get better.
"I think you saw a couple of glimpses of how accurate a passer he could be once we give him time and he settles in a little bit."
With running back Jordan Hall sidelined because of a lacerated foot, Carlos Hyde carried the load in the backfield, running for 82 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns.
"I was disappointed that he didn't get 100 yards," Meyer said. "A few carries got taken away because Miami made a decision to force the quarterback to run and then have extra defensive players where they were."
Overall, it was a memorable day for Meyer, a native Ohioan coaching the team he grew up rooting for in Ashtabula and later served as a graduate assistant.
"Hang on Sloopy kicked it off in the fourth quarter," he said. "And I stared at that for a while, watched it.
"We enjoy a win. We all know it's difficult to win in major college football. Now we've got one and now we get ready for next week."
The Buckeyes gained 538 total yards against an overmatched RedHawks defense on a humid afternoon that affected players from both teams.
Ohio State's 35-point second half included the first career touchdowns by senior captain Zach Boren on a 2-yard run with 9:33 left and freshman Bri'onte Dunn on a 4-yard rush with 44 seconds to play.
Ohio State's defense, meanwhile, held Miami to minus-1 yard rushing and 312 total yards. The RedHawks ranked last in FBS last season in rushing yardage and it showed against an aggressive OSU front seven.
"It was our No. 1 goal to completed stop their run," linebacker Etienne Sabino said. "If they did try to run, we wanted to close it up immediately."
Miami quarterback Zac Dysert, who has thrown for more than 8,000 yards in his prolific career, was 31 of 53 for 303 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted twice by Buckeyes cornerback Travis Howard and victimized by numerous drops from his receivers.
Meyer had seen Dysert once before when his Florida team faced Miami in the Gators' 2010 opener. In that game, just like Saturday's, the RedHawks led 3-0 in the first quarter.
Meyer called Dysert a talented quarterback before the game and his opinion hadn't changed afterward.
"He'll throw for a lot of yards and be an NFL quarterback," Meyer said.
After a sluggish first quarter, Buckeyes fans were wondering whether they were seeing the same team that ended last season with four consecutive losses. But the Buckeyes found the juice in the second quarter.
Ohio State opened a 7-3 lead when the sophomore wideout Devin Smith made an amazing, highlight-reel grab in the right corner of the end zone on a high throw from Miller for a 23-yard score.
"It was definitely my best all-time catch," said Smith, who had the game-winning reception last year against Wisconsin. "I've had some catches at practice, but nothing like this one."
Meyer said, "That ignited the stadium."
Miller came right back on the next series with a 5-yard touchdown strike to Corey Brown, whose seven catches for 87 yards in the game were half of his receptions total all of last season.
"Philly Brown had a good day," Meyer said.
Hyde found the end zone on a 4-yard run with 5:17 left before halftime to extend the Buckeyes' lead to 21-3. That score brought some relief to coaches and fans feeling a bit nervous after the team's slow start.
The Buckeyes came up just short of the end zone to end the first half when Meyer elected to go for a touchdown from the 1-yard line with three seconds left and Hyde was stopped just short of the goal line.
"Ohio State should be able to knock that in from the 1," Meyer said. "That's absolutely non-negotiable nonsense. That can't happen. We'll hit that with a sledgehammer on Sunday."
The first quarter didn't go exactly as planned for the Buckeyes. They dug an early hole after Kaleb Patterson's 22-yard field goal gave Miami a 3-0 lead. The score was set up by Dysert's 58- yard completion to Dawan Scott.
The pedestrian opening quarter saw the Buckeyes outgained 172-48 in the first quarter and 165-5 through the air. By halftime, though, Ohio State's offense completed turned the game in their favor, outgaining the RedHawks 297-38 in the second quarter.
The first half ended with Ohio State holding a 345-210 yardage advantage and the kind of balance Meyer had wanted with 156 yards on the ground and 189 through the air.
The win extended a streak of home-opening victories to 34, with the last loss coming in 1978 to Joe Paterno and Penn State. Ohio State coaches are now 21-0-1 in their first game.