Not only did Ohio State intercept Miami quarterback Jacory Harris four times, but counterpart Terrelle Pryor threw no picks. Making things worse for Miami was that all of Harris' miscues set up Ohio State's offense with great field position and led to points, helping the Buckeyes earn a 36-24 victory.
"When you can create four turnovers, you're going to have a chance," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. "And when you have zero giveaways, you're going to have a real good chance."
Pryor completed only 12 of 27 passes for 233 yards but clearly looked like the best quarterback on the field. Harris threw for 232 yards on 22-of-39 passing, but the interceptions ruined his - and Miami's - afternoon.
On three of the interceptions, it appeared like a catch could have been made by a Hurricane receiver, but Miami head coach Randy Shannon placed most of the blame on his junior quarterback.
"(On) two of (the interceptions) the receivers ran the wrong route," Shannon said. "But, still, if the receiver runs the wrong route, then throw the ball out of bounds. He did some things today that weren't usually Jacory - when the pocket broke down he'd start to run instead of trying to force a throw."
The fact that three of the interceptions set up Ohio State's offense deep in Hurricane territory did not help Miami's cause, either. The first came on UM's first offensive possession of the game. Harris had his third-and-9 pass from his team's 22-yard line tipped by safety C.J. Barnett into the hands of defensive end Nathan Williams. That turnover helped Ohio State score the game's first points on a 24-yard field goal by Devin Barclay.
Later, after a 41-yard field goal by Barclay gave Ohio State a 13-10 lead in the second quarter, Harris started the ensuing drive by throwing another interception. This one was caught by OSU senior cornerback Chimdi Chekwa and was returned to the UM 19. The turnover led to an Ohio State touchdown on a 4-yard rush by Dan "Boom" Herron.
"We knew we had to get pressure on him. That goes for every game, but especially this game because this is a big game," Chekwa said." Jacory Harris, from what we saw from last year, made some bad decisions sometimes when he got pressured. If you got pressure on him, he was going to throw it up some times.
"We made sure we got pressure on him and I got an opportunity to make some plays."
Chekwa struck again for another second-quarter interception on a pass that he literally took away from a Miami receiver. Harris' pass was on target at the Miami 42, but it was bobbled by Travis Benjamin before Chekwa hauled it in and returned it to UM 27. This turnover led to a 24-yard Barclay field goal that gave Ohio State a 26-17 lead.
"Initially I was trying to make a hit, trying to get him to drop the ball," Chekwa said of the play. "But he was already bobbling it. I just capitalized on the opportunity."
The fourth - and arguably the most important defensive play of the game - came on a third-and-goal play at the Ohio State 6 in the third quarter. Miami was trailing 26-17 and was getting some offensive momentum going on the first drive of the second half. All that momentum was quickly lost, however, when Harris had a pass over the middle hauled in by Ohio State's Cameron Heyward. The senior defensive end had dropped back into pass coverage and easily nabbed the ball out of the air. He then raced down the field 80 yards before being hauled down from behind deep in Miami territory.
Once again, the turnover led to points. Pryor made Miami pay with a 13-yard touchdown that gave the Buckeyes a commanding 33-17 lead.
Turnovers were the key to Ohio State's victory. Twenty of Ohio State's 36 points came on the four drives after Harris interceptions.
"They gave us great field position," Saine said of his defense. "Without some of those takeaways, the game would have been a lot different."