A highly anticipated matchup since the 2003 Fiesta Bowl that crowned Ohio State as the national champions of the 2002 season, the Buckeyes shaked their recent marquee nonconference game skid against the Miami Hurricanes. It was touch and go there for a minute, but the better team prevailed. Four Jacory Harris turnovers and a superb performance on defense gave the Buckeyes the 36-24 victory Saturday afternoon.
Thoughts abound from this game. Ohio State could’ve ended this game by halftime if we didn’t suck out loud on special teams. This was apparently the first time the Buckeyes have conceded a punt return touchdown and a kick return touchdown. Ohio State had stifled Miami’s offense early and often. Harris already had three turnovers before halftime. The reason they were within striking distance by halftime was because of those two special teams collapses. It could have been 26-3 at halftime with Miami having no hope of making that up. Instead, the Hurricanes, only down nine, got the ball and drove the length of the field. Fortunately, a good playcall by Jim Heacock dropped Jacory Harris into pass coverage. Harris, rattled all day, did not identify him. The ensuing interception was returned to Miami’s red zone. Ohio State was in the end zone moments later. The Hurricanes never recovered.
The first half was absolutely wild, one of the craziest I have seen in a game at Ohio Stadium. The second half was comparably as intriguing, and sometimes nerve-wracking. Harris settled in the second half, in part because I think we took our foot off the accelerator on defense. A large part of that was seeing the lack of depth at the defensive line exposed. Adam Bellamy and Solomon Thomas were counted on in important stretches. The Hurricanes were able to get within two touchdowns to begin the fourth quarter. Rushing only four, not quite ready for primetime backups eventually paid dividends on Miami’s final drive. The Hurricanes gambled all and lost on a fourth down.
It gets more interesting from there. As my Dad noted over phone call, Tresselball can be an eyesore for fans. Yet, when executed well and with Pryor at the helm, it’s like tearing the wings off a butterfly for opposing defenses. To note: Miami turned the ball over on downs with 7:31 left and all three timeouts. They did not get the ball back. Ohio State ate the entire clock, giving the Hurricanes the Oregon treatment, en route to a 36-24 victory.
With it, the Buckeyes have passed their first test against a Hurricanes team that was up for this game. Harris, who I thought would give Miami at least a puncher’s chance this game, hurt them. Miami’s offensive line played reasonably well enough, when they were not racking up false start penalties. Miami’s receiver corp played well too, though they had two passes broken up in the third quarter that ultimately led to the blocked field goal. We learned a lot about the Buckeyes from this game. Some are good. Some are bad. In the meantime, we will enjoy this victory in light of all the crap we’ve had to hear about stolen national titles and guarantees from Damien Berry that the victory would not be ours.