There were some skittish moments early, but the Ohio State Buckeyes coasted past the Buffalo Bulls to open their season, 40-20. Braxton Miller was clinical, going 15-22 for 178 yards and two touchdowns and an interception, and generally looked much more comfortable throwing the ball. Jordan Hall had a big day on the ground, rolling up 153 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Miller pitched in for 78 rushing yards as well.
For Buffalo, Joe Licata went 19-32 for 187 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and connected with Alex Neutz nine times for 98 yards and a touchdown. Branden Oliver led the team on the ground with 73 yards.
Ohio State went up 16-0 early on two touchdown passes from Miller to Devin Smith and Chris Fields. The Buckeyes added a pair of two point conversions on each of those, for no other reason besides the fact that they could. A Jordan Hall touchdown rush made it 23-0 at the end of the first quarter, and things looked great for Ohio State.
Buffalo would make it interesting in the second quarter, however. Quarterback Joe Licata hit tight end Mason Schreck for a touchdown to get the Bulls on the board, and less than two minutes later, star defensive end Khalil Mack picked off Miller and ran it back 47 yards for a touchdown.
The momentum wouldn't last, however, and Jordan Hall took it to the house from 37 yards out less than a minute later to make it 30-13 at the half.
Buffalo made things interesting in the third quarter, pulling within 10 points on a touchdown pass from Licata to Alex Neutz. On the ensuing drive, it appeared that Miller fumbled and the Bulls recovered inside the Ohio State five yard line, but a somewhat dubious penalty on Khalil Mack would save the Buckeyes' bacon. They saved possession, and then ate clock on a 14 play, 91 yard drive that culminated in a 21 yard touchdown pass from Kenny Guiton to Chris Fields. Guiton was in the game because Miller was suffering from leg cramps, which also took linebacker Ryan Shazier out of the game back in the second quarter.
Buffalo would have a chance to bring it back within 10, but Devin Campbell was ruled out of bounds at the Ohio State 3, and the Bulls weren't able to get any points when Licata fumbled the snap on 4th and goal from the one. The Buckeyes drove down the field and added a field goal to push their lead to 40-20, and at that point the air was pretty much let out of the ball.
Ohio State picks up the win they required, but their lack of depth on defense was exposed by a Buffalo team who wasn't expected to be an offensive dynamo. They were missing Bradley Roby due to suspension, but when Shazier was off the field too, you could tell just how young the defense was. They have time to get better and reinforcements will come, but the defense needs to improve.
Box Score Hero: Miller had a very nice day, going 15-22 for 178 yards in the air for two scores and a pick, and added another 78 on the ground.
Rankings Ramifications: Ohio State will probably remain at number two in the rankings with the win. Buffalo will stay unranked.
But Did They Cover? Ohio State was as much as a 35 point favorite, so they did not cover the spread.
For More On This Game:
For more on the Buckeyes, check out Land-Grant Holy Land
For more on Buffalo, head over to Bull Run
Next Week's Schedule:
Ohio State: Sept. 7, vs. San Diego State
Buffalo: Sept. 7, at Baylor