Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller scrambles against Nebraska defenders.
COLUMBUS — The Big Ten is officially on watch.
Urban Meyer and No. 12 Ohio State made sure of that in a thrill-a-minute 63-38 victory over 21st-ranked Nebraska on Saturday night that showcased for the first time the potential of an explosive new era.
In one of the highest-scoring games in Ohio Stadium history, OSU (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) sent the visitors home gasping “uncle.”
A year after the Buckeyes gave away a 21-point lead in Lincoln, they fell behind by double digits before reversing the script — and then some.
Ohio State found the end zone on six straight possessions and seven of eight, setting free wave after wave of plays that sent a stadium-record crowd of 106,112 into an unceasing frenzy.
Forget the grit required for OSU to escape Michigan State with a victory a week earlier. In a game between college football heavyweights that will surely set in motion talk of a perfect season — the Buckeyes do not play a currently ranked team the rest of the season — OSU won this one with style.
Quarterback Braxton Miller remained in the thick of the Heisman Trophy race with more than 300 combined yards of offense — including 186 rushing yards on just 16 carries — while his teammates proved ready for their primetime close-up.
The Buckeyes intercepted scattershot Huskers quarterback Taylor Martinez three times, Carlos Hyde ran for four touchdowns and Corey Brown returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown.
In all, OSU piled up 498 yards of offense — including a season-high 371 yards on the ground. The night featured the most combined points at Ohio Stadium since the Buckeyes dusted Iowa 83-21 in 1950.
Funny because nothing about the start foreshadowed the high-wire drama to come.
Ohio State went three-and-out on its first two possessions and would not uproot the first-down marker until the second quarter. But the night quickly shifted from zero to 100 when on Nebraska’s second drive Bradley Roby stepped in front of a sideline pass and dashed 40 yards for a touchdown.
The stadium shook and rarely got a break for the rest of a back-and-forth half.
For the Buckeyes, it didn’t matter that they trailed 17-7, fell short on a fake punt attempt in their own territory and were gashed by Nebraska’s three-headed backfield for 146 first-half rushing yards.
It was nothing a big play — or 10 — could not vanquish.
Miller set the Buckeyes off on four straight first-half touchdown drives with a 72-yard dash to the Huskers’ 3, then closed the half with a 31-yard run into the end zone on fourth-and-1 with 23 seconds remaining. In between, Roby picked off Martinez again, Miller found tight end Jeff Heuerman on an 18-yard touchdown pass and Carlos Hyde ran for a pair of scores.
The Buckeyes led 35-24 at halftime, then piled on some more.
After Nebraska opened the second half with a seven-play, 77-yard touchdown drive, OSU answered with a 75-yard scoring drive of their own. Then, the Buckeyes effectively iced the victory by unveiling a rarely utilized weapon on this night — defense.
Storm Klein and John Simon sacked Martinez on the first two plays of the Huskers’ next drive, setting up Brown’s punt return.
It was not until Hyde lost a fumble at the Nebraska 16 that the Buckeyes’ string of six straight touchdowns mercilessly ended.
Contact David Briggs at: email@example.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.