BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Ohio State made Memorial Stadium rock Saturday night.
It just took longer than usual in OSU's wild 52-49 victory over Indiana.
On a night where the crowd appeared evenly split between Indiana’s crimson and the scarlet of OSU, the Buckeyes pushed aside a listless start with a deluge of gut-punching plays.
Trailing 14-10 late in the first half, No. 8 Ohio State answered with back-to-back-to-back touchdowns. Bradley Roby recovered a punt blocked by Travis Howard in the end zone, Braxton Miller hummed a 60-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline to Devin Smith and Miller dashed for a 67-yard score.
Indiana made the score deceptively close after recovering an onside kick and scoring a pair of touchdowns in the final two minutes. But OSU escaped after fielding a final onside kick attempt with 1 minute, 4 seconds remaining.
The ending left the Buckeyes in no mood to celebrate. On a night where the defenses went missing, the Buckeyes piled up 578 yards while allowing the spread-it-out Hoosiers 481 -- including 352 yards passing. The 49 points were the most OSU had allowed since a 63-14 loss at Penn State in 1994.
"We are not good in certain areas and we were exposed," coach Urban Meyer said. "Spread offenses right now are really exposing us. We have to get something fixed."
"That was very embarrassing," cornerback Bradley Roby said.
Still, the Buckeyes' offense was three points better, delivering a second straight virtuoso performance. Miller completed 13 of 24 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 149 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries; tailback Carlos Hyde rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries; and Smith, though he also let a pair of touchdown passes slip through his gloves, caught two passes for 106 yards -- both for scores.
OSU (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) earned its 18th straight win over Indiana (2-4, 0-3).
"There are some real strong positives in there right now," Meyer said. "The most important positive is that you have a group of players and coaches getting on a plane right now heading back to Columbus at 7-0 with an opportunity to go 8-0."
It was an unusual primetime atmosphere, with most of Indiana’s students home on fall break and large swaths of empty seats in the corners of the stadium. But per usual, Ohio State and its fans were made to feel at home, from the woman selling Buckeye necklaces to tailgaters before the game to the cheers for OSU matching in decibel level those for the Hoosiers.
The Buckeyes had their fans in full throat early. A week after scoring on seven of their last eight drives in a 63-point deluge against Nebraska, the Buckeyes began with more of the same. Corey Brown took an option pitch in for a 12-yard touchdown to finish off a nine-play, 75-yard opening burst.
Yet just as a here-we-go-again vibe wafted over the stadium, the teams reversed traditional roles. The Buckeyes next five drives against the nation’s 94th-ranked defense featured three points, two field goal attempts — one missed — and a blocked punt deep in their own territory.
Indiana, meanwhile, rushed ahead 14-10 in a span of less than three minutes. Stephen Houston ran for a 59-yard touchdown, then, after IU blocked a Ben Buchanan punt at the OSU 24, punched in a 7-yard run three plays later.
The night ultimately swung toward Ohio State for good on the strength of a familiar leading man. Roby, whose interception return for a touchdown kick-started OSU against Nebraska, lifted the Buckeyes again when he recovered a blocked punt in the end zone with 5:19 left in the first half. OSU scored on its next two possessions, first on Miller’s long pass and then on his even longer run, to pull ahead 31-17 early in the third quarter.
OSU would have to wait a while to ice the game. The Buckeyes were on the verge of a fourth straight score and going ahead by three touchdowns when Miller rolled left and set free a pass intended for Brown in the end zone. Instead, diving Indiana cornerback Greg Heban picked off the pass and the Hoosiers answered with a 76-yard touchdown pass to Shane Wynn.
But it only delayed the historically inevitable. After Miller was briefly sidelined after a late hit sent him crashing into the sideline, backup quarterback Kenny Guiton capped an eight-play 75-yard touchdown drive with a 14-yard pass to Hyde to put the Buckeyes ahead 38-24.
Contact David Briggs at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6084, or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.