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MIAMI — Ohio State is dealing with a lot of doubt surrounding the effectiveness of its quarterbacks after watching the air get drained out of its passing game Saturday night in a 24-6 loss to Miami.
The No. 17 Buckeyes completed just one pass for four yards in the first half when they fell behind 17-6, and they finished the game with four completions in 17 attempts for only 35 yards, with one interception.
“We’re not going to jump to any conclusions,” Ohio State coach Luke Fickell said about his evaluation of senior Joe Bauserman and freshman Braxton Miller.
“That’s the glaring one [problem] to people on the outside,” Fickell said about his team’s shortcomings in south Florida. “But we need to figure out how we can move forward.”
Ohio State managed only two short field goals by Drew Basil as it lost for the first time under Fickell. An announced crowd of 66,279 — the largest for a Hurricanes game in Sun Life Stadium since Miami moved there in 2008 — saw Ohio State drop to 2-1.
“There’s a lot of blame [to go around],” Fickell said after the Buckeyes managed just 42 yards of offense in the second half and got shut out by Miami over those final 30 minutes of football.
“But we’re not going to blame each other.”
After stopping the Buckeyes on the opening series, Miami (1-1) let it be known it meant business on its first play of the game. Sophomore running back Lamar Miller took a handoff up the middle and blasted through the first wave of Ohio State defenders. Miller went 54 yards to the Ohio State 9-yard line before defensive back Bradley Roby caught him from behind.
The Hurricanes scored the game’s first touchdown three plays later on a three-yard pass from Jacory Harris to Allen Hurns. With Jake Wieclaw’s extra point, Miami led 7-0 just over a minute into the game.
Ohio State went three-and-out again on its second possession, and Miami’s Travis Benjamin took Ohio State’s punt back 24 yards to set the Hurricanes up at the Buckeyes’ 47-yard line.
A 19-yard run by Miller helped Miami move 53 yards in 11 plays for another score. The touchdown came on a repeat of the first scoring play — a three-yard pass from Harris to Hurns — and Miami led 14-0 with a little over five minutes left in the first period.
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Ohio State running back Jordan Hall, one of three Buckeyes suspended for the first two games of the season for accepting improper benefits at a charity event earlier this year, made his first appearance of the season midway through the first quarter and put a charge in the offense.
Hall gained 53 rushing yards on his first four carries, and had 83 in the first half, but he was limited beyond that by leg cramps. Hall helped the Buckeyes push the ball down to the Miami 5-yard line with about six and a half minutes left in the first half, and Basil’s 22-yard field goal cut Miami’s lead to 14-3.
That Ohio State score was set up by an interception by defensive back C.J. Barnett. OSU drove 64 yards in 16 plays after the interception for Basil’s first kick. He added another a short time later after Roby picked off Harris at the Miami 23-yard line.
The Buckeyes stalled at the 8-yard line and Basil kicked a 24-yarder to cut the Miami lead to 14-6. The Hurricanes added a 25-yard field goal from Wieclaw on the final play of the half for a 17-6 lead.
The Hurricanes went on to put the game away in the second half by ganging up to stop the OSU running game and forcing repeated punts. Miami also chewed up the clock with several lengthy possessions.
“Ultimately, they made a lot more plays than we did,” Fickell said.
Ohio State’s best advance of the second half came when Miller was in at quarterback in the fourth quarter. After several nice runs by Miller pushed the ball into Miami territory, he was stripped near the Miami 30 and the Hurricanes recovered.
Miami then closed the deal with a long touchdown drive in the final minutes that ended when Mike James twisted his way in from one yard out with just 33 seconds on the clock.
“We all feel bad,” Fickell said. “Every single one of us in that locker room is going to go back and look in the mirror and see what we can do better.”
Contact Matt Markey at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @MattMarkey.