Offense Does It All In Blowout Victory

Ohio State has shown bits and pieces of an unstoppable offense, and it all finally came together in Saturday night's blowout of Penn State. The Buckeyes ran it and threw it with equal aplomb, a scary thought for its upcoming opponents, behind the wizardry of Braxton Miller.

Ohio State's players are typically complimentary to the extreme about opponents both before and after games – and Saturday was no different when it came to Penn State.

Safety C.J. Barnett called the Nittany Lions "a great team," while offensive lineman Andrew Norwell said his blue-and-white counterparts in the trenches were "very good."

But in the wake of a 63-14 victory that included the third-most total yards (686) in school history, it was hard for Buckeyes to not feel good about their performance. In fact, the Buckeyes were almost glowing after putting up numbers that you don't normally see outside of a video game or a Baylor box score.

Norwell used the term "unstoppable" to refer to the team's running attack – and who would argue after the Buckeyes racked up 408 net rushing yards, their most in 24 years?

When it came to his team's 63-point outburst – the third time in Urban Meyer's tenure-opening 20-game win streak the Buckeyes have topped the 60-point mark – quarterback Braxton Miller said, "That's how it should be."

And head coach Urban Meyer was practically gushing about his junior quarterback, who over the past two games has fulfilled the extensive promise he has showed repeatedly during the past three campaigns but never quite consistently put together on a series-to-series basis until now.

"I just love where Braxton's at right now," Meyer said after Miller tossed for a career-high 252 yards. "I love the fact that he's acting like a quarterback. I'm not disrespecting Braxton; you guys know I love that guy. But I felt like he was an athlete playing quarterback a year ago. I feel like he's a quarterback that's a really good athlete now.

"Tom Herman and him have a special – they spend a lot of time together. Braxton comes in on his own and says, ‘Coach, can we spend more time together?' That's a sign of a quarterback."

Over the past two contests, Miller has gone a combined 40 for 51 (78.4 percent) for 474 yards, five touchdown passes, no interceptions, 170 yards rushing and two more rushing TDs.

In other words, the third-year starter has added efficiency to the game-breaking skill-set that made him a Heisman Trophy top-five candidate a season ago in his first year in Meyer's offense.

"(I feel) very comfortable," Miller said. "I know what I'm doing and reading defensive coverages and I know where guys are going to be, I adjust the routes sometimes, and it's exciting to see a guy with the ball in his hand do something with it."

It helps that he has a stable of targets that has made it easy to distribute the ball. Devin Smith, Philly Brown, Evan Spencer and Chris Fields each caught at least four passes in the blowout of the Nittany Lions, while Jeff Heuerman had five catches last week vs. Iowa.

Then there's the vaunted rushing attack that hasn't been stopped by a single opponent. The Buckeyes' historic ground total in this one was simply the logical conclusion of what has been a dominating season up to this point, as every element is there for the team to have a ground game that cannot be stopped.

First there's Miller, the electric quarterback who netted his first two rushing scores of the season. Then there's the fast yet physical presence of Carlos Hyde, who added two more first-half touchdowns to get to seven in an eight-quarter span and who finished with 9.2 yards per carry. Add in the speedy Dontre Wilson and Jordan Hall – who combined for 93 yards on nine carries – and all the tools are there for success.

"We just kept going and running the ball and we hit a few passes there," offensive guard Andrew Norwell said. "Our run game is pretty unstoppable right now and up front we take pride in that, all five guys. We have a good group up front and a great back behind us. It makes our job a lot easier."

Everything was working about as well as it could in the first half, as the Buckeyes scored touchdowns on six of seven drives on the way to an insurmountable 42-7 lead. The team's 414 yards of first-half offense was its first 400-yard half in three seasons.

"It was a good defense, good team," Miller said. "The first half we did real good. Fast, fast momentum, getting the ball out. And the guys get the ball, the offensive line blocking and just the game plan just worked out. We worked throughout the week and it turns out like this."

The performance is so good that it even left the OSU defenders with smiles on their faces.

"Oh man, they make it a lot easier when they get rolling like that," Brown said. "I'm very happy for them."


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