Buckeyes: Leaders of the pack

Miller, Hyde help OSU clinch division with 42-14 win over Indiana

11/24/2013
BY DAVID BRIGGS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Ohio State’s Braxton Miller scores a touchdown against Indiana during the first  quarter. He threw for two scores and ran for two others. The Buckeyes improved to 11-0 on the season.
Ohio State’s Braxton Miller scores a touchdown against Indiana during the first quarter. He threw for two scores and ran for two others. The Buckeyes improved to 11-0 on the season.

COLUMBUS — Snow was falling and Braxton Miller was flying.

Ohio State's quarterback twice somersaulted over the pylon in the corner of the end zone Saturday, one time with flair to punctuate a 37-yard burst that went according to plan, the other time landing smack on his head on a play that did not.

The second dive in the Buckeyes’ 42-14 beatdown of Indiana came off a reverse called "Jazzy," which had Miller lined up at receiver and the backup they call Kenny G — or Kenny Guiton — at quarterback.

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On second-and-goal at the Hoosiers’ 5-yard line, Miller took the handoff and raced toward the right sideline to see his two options — a pass to tight end Jeff Heuerman or running in himself — cut off. Yet in his first game without a brace since spraining his knee in September, the junior vowed he would "have a little fun." What better time than now.

He leaped over a waiting defender just before the goal line, Miller soaring heels over head and coach Urban Meyer’s heart on the turf.

"I’d rather he not do that," Meyer said. "But he’s got to do what he’s got to do."

It was the story of Ohio State’s afternoon. Miller's front flips earned varying style points but both resulted in first-half touchdowns.

If a day that transformed Ohio Stadium into an oversized snow globe was not always pretty, it was plenty sweet for fourth-ranked Ohio State and its senior class.

Miller accounted for four touchdowns — two passing, two running — running back Carlos Hyde became the first 1,000-yard back in Urban Meyer's head coaching career, and OSU sent off its 18 seniors with a record finale.

The Buckeyes (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) won their school-record 23rd straight game — the longest streak in the conference in 64 years — and clinched the Leaders Division title, which sends them to the Big Ten championship game. The Buckeyes will play No. 13 Michigan State, which iced the Legends Division with a 30-6 win over Northwestern, on Dec. 7 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

"We’re forever in history now," Guiton said. "People will be chasing us, and that’s pretty cool."

The end, though, featured little celebration. By the final minutes, as the band sang, "We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan," only a few thousand bone-chilled fans remained from the crowd of 104,990.

Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier stops D'Angelo Roberts. Indiana was held scoreless until the fourth quarter.
Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier stops D'Angelo Roberts. Indiana was held scoreless until the fourth quarter.

Afterward, OSU athletic director Gene Smith presented the team with a game ball honoring the winning streak and Meyer said he appreciated the "nut job students who stayed to the end." Then, in his opening statement to the media, he said his focus was officially shifting to Buckeyes’ trip to the Big House next weekend

That meant no talk about Ohio State’s place in the national title chase. The Buckeyes are third in the BCS standings, behind Alabama and Florida State.

"We have enough to work on and this week you’re going to hear some very generic answers about everything," Meyer said with a smile. "I’m not trying to be a jerk, but our focus is on beating that rival team, and that’s it."

The Buckeyes put Saturday’s game away early. With temperatures in the 20s and flurries whipping through the stadium, Miller sprinted for 41 yards on the third play of the game, foreshadowing what Meyer later called the best running day of the quarterback’s career.

In a matchup between one of the most prolific offenses in Big Ten history against an Indiana defense on pace to be the worst, Hyde punched in a 16-yard touchdown run on the fifth play of the game and Miller and OSU kept adding on.

Miller ran for the 37-yard score on the Buckeyes’ next possession, added the 5-yard TD in the second quarter, and threw for a pair of touchdowns — a 24-yard pass to freshman Dontre Wilson and a 39-yard throw to Devin Smith — in the second half. He ran for 144 yards on 13 carries while completing 11 of 17 passes for 160 yards.

Hyde ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, becoming the first 1,000-yard rusher at OSU since Beanie Wells in 2008.

Linebacker Ryan Shazier, meanwhile, had 20 tackles to lead a Buckeyes defense that held IU (4-7, 2-5) scoreless into the fourth quarter.

The day was not perfect for OSU, with Miller throwing an interception and losing one of the team’s three fumbles. But in the end, the Buckeyes still were.

"We’re just striving for the best," Miller said. "We ended last season 12-0 and we weren’t able to go to the bowl or the Big Ten championship. That’s what we want to accomplish."

Contact David Briggs at: dbriggs@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.