Fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman did his best to try to stake his claim as the clear No. 1 signal caller with his impressive performance in his first career starter. The former minor league pitcher saw the bulk of the playing time under center and made the most of it, completing 12 of 16 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns – all to junior tight end Jake Stoneburner. He even rushed for another score, opening the scoring in the first quarter on a 15-yard run that came on a broken play.
"Joe had a great game," Stoneburner said. "They named him the day one starter for a reason. They had confidence in him, and he just went out there and showed why he was the starter.
"I'm very proud of him. I was glad he was out there making plays and hopefully we can keep doing it moving forward."
Bauserman set the tone on Ohio State's first offensive series of the season. The Buckeyes took over at the Ohio State 26-yard line after an Akron punt, and Bauserman led a drive that went 74 yards on eight plays and ended with Bauserman's scramble for a touchdown on a second-and-6 play from the Akron 15.
"It was a little miscommunication," Bauserman said of his scoring play. "I just decided I was going to (run) once I got to the line of scrimmage. I made a guy miss and (that was it)."
During the drive, Bauserman completed two passes. The first went to Stoneburner – a hint of things to come perhaps – for a 9-yard gain. Redshirt freshman Verlon Reed nabbed the second, hauling in a pass on the sideline for a 28-yard gain that advanced the ball into the red zone.
Bauserman's second scoring drive came in the second quarter. He capped a 13-play, 65-yard drive with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Stoneburner on a play in which the tight end and quarterback ad-libbed. The Akron defending Stoneburner fell on the play, so the Dublin (Ohio) Coffman product altered his route. Instead of a come-back route, Stoneburner went downfield. Bauserman spotted Stoneburner and connected with his open receiver for a touchdown that put Ohio State ahead 14-0.
"Joe made a good decision to throw it out there," Stoneburner said of the play.
Bauserman finished the first half with an impressive stat line, completing 10 of 14 passes for 133 yards. He was not done, however, connecting on his final two pass attempts on his final drive of the game. The senior completed a 28-yard pass to Reed on the second play of the march and ended it with a 2-yard pass that fell over the shoulder of Stoneburner.
Confidence was the key word following the game. Confidence that Bauserman built for himself and confidence he built from others.
"He showed a lot of confidence in the huddle," senior center Michael Brewster said. "If anything, he has more confidence that he's going in the right direction."
Added sophomore offensive lineman Jack Mewhort: "I expected that from Joe because all through camp he was doing really well. He passed my expectations, but I knew he was going to be a really good player. I know he is a really good player. I think we're really confident with him back there."
Bauserman was unsurprisingly happy with his performance.
"It feels good," Bauserman said. "A win is a win, and if you go out and play well, you're going to gain confidence. I feel like I'm ready to get back in the film room and get after Toledo."