Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller tries to get past Miami's Dayonne Nunley. Miller set an all-time record for Ohio State quarterbacks by rushing for 161 yards. He also threw for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
COLUMBUS -- It was like peeling off the dusted cover of a vintage Ferrari, only to find the motor rusted out and the tires flat.
This was the anticipated high-speed new era of Ohio State football?
A crowd of 105,039 who crammed into Ohio Stadium expecting to watch OSU powder Miami in Urban Meyer's debut fell silent early Saturday afternoon as the Buckeyes stammered then stalled. In the first quarter, their no-huddle spread offense produced five passing yards, four punts, two first downs, one mystified new boss, and zero points.
Photo gallery: OSU vs. Miami (OH)
"That first quarter, I was embarrassed with the way we were playing," Meyer said.
But reassurance came from a perhaps unlikely source: the cornerstone young quarterback whose leadership was admittedly nonexistent a year ago.
"We'll be fine," sophomore Braxton Miller told Meyer late in the first quarter.
They were -- and then some.
The ignition turned in the second quarter, and the Buckeyes undammed a year's worth of frustration in a 56-10 rout of Miami.
Miller led OSU on back-to-back-to-back touchdown drives, launching a day that would ultimately end with him dashing into the school's record books.
Ohio State celebrates Bradley Roby's touchdown after he recovered a fumble in the third quarter.
While Meyer sweated -- "I [wasn't] as positive as Braxton was," he said -- the Buckeyes opened the second quarter with a four-play, 83-yard touchdown drive capped by a crowd-stirring one-handed circus catch by Devin Smith and continued to pile on.
Miller threw another touchdown pass and completed 14 of 24 passes for 207 yards but did most of his damage on the ground. The player who Meyer called a "caged tiger" because he was so restless to shed his no-contact practice jersey was set free for 161 rushing yards -- a single-game record for an OSU quarterback -- including a 65-yard third-quarter touchdown run in which he burst to the outside then burned a Miami defensive back with a stutter-step at the 30.
Of the run, the soft-spoken Miller said, "Just trying to get away from a guy."
If not for the first quarter, the day went just as Meyer would have scripted.
The Buckeyes churned out 538 yards of offense; Travis Howard's two interceptions paced a big-play defense that held the air-it-out RedHawks to 140 yards over the final three quarters; and the special teams flexed their muscles when Bradley Roby recovered a fumbled punt for a third-quarter touchdown .
In all, it was a feel-good debut for Ohio State and Meyer -- the superstar coach who returned to his native state to guide OSU from its most turmoil-filled season in school history.
Meyer said he allowed himself a moment in the second half to take in the spectacle. Afterward, he left the field to chants of "Urban! Urban!"
"The day overall was great," Meyer said. " 'Hang on Sloopy' kicked it off in the fourth quarter, and I stared at that for a while, watched it."
The play between the lines appeared it would demand his attention for longer than expected. Miller's first pass -- a short toss over the middle thrown well behind Smith -- established the early theme. Miller completed only one of his first seven passes.
"I was antsy, not relaxed the first couple of minutes," he said. "I was so ready to go. In practice, I've been so relaxed and calm. But it wasn't like that early."
And, then, it was again. With the Buckeyes trailing 3-0 early in the second quarter, Miller floated a 38-yard play-action pass to Corey Brown and the 23-yard touchdown pass to Smith on consecutive plays. Miller then capped the ensuing drive with a five-yard touchdown pass to Brown.
His teammates joined in too. Tailback Carlos Hyde rushed for 82 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Senior fullback Zach Boren added a two-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter -- the first rushing score of his career -- while Bri'onte Dunn rushed for a four-yard score with 44 seconds remaining.
"I'm just a little disappointed in the first quarter, but after that, what a great day," Meyer said. "We enjoy the 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."
Contact David Briggs at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6084, or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.
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