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: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.
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