Quarterback Terrelle Pryor opened the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown run on which he went into the end zone untouched thanks to a combo block on the edge by J.B. Shugarts and Jim Cordle. Cordle, who played left tackle most of the day, flopped sides with the tight end, giving the Buckeyes three linemen to the right of the center with only one to the left.
The result? Cordle and Shugarts easily overpowered the Aggie end and Cordle slipped off down field to seal a linebacker, giving Pryor an easy path to the end zone.
"When people play a lot of man coverage sometimes it's advantageous to do some unbalanced things so they've got to get their man a little bit out of position to play some option and things like that," Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said. "It's something we've done in the past and something we'll do again."
The Buckeyes immediately went back to work on offense thanks to a special teams trick. Kicker Aaron Pettrey only dribbled the pigskin off the tee hard enough for it to bounce 11 yards, where he jumped on it after it became a live ball.
Ohio State took over at its own 41 and quickly went on the attack with a five-play, 59-yard drive that concluded with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Pryor to Dane Sanzenbacher.
Sanzenbacher was the beneficiary again on the next Ohio State scoring drive as he created enough separation from a defender in the end zone to haul in a 39-yard pass from fellow receiver DeVier Posey, who had received the ball on a reverse after taking a pitch from running back Dan Herron, to whom Pryor had tossed the ball to start the play.
Both those wrinkles, previously unseen this season, were present in the game plan as a result of weaknesses the Buckeyes observed in their opponent during film study.
"Really the reverse pass was because what we'd seen Louisiana Tech run a lot of that formation," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said of a three-receiver, one-back set with Pryor under center. "And when the toss was run with that formation, there really wasn't anyone backside. We really were looking to throw it back to the quarterback, but their corner was doing a good job staying home, so DeVier found the flanker over him and threw a good ball in there, but because they'd been such a man team and chased so hard against Louisiana Tech, we thought we could get a little throw back to the quarterback, so it wasn't such a great idea, but he found a second receiver."
Although his quarterback days ended when he got to Cincinnati LaSalle High, Posey was able to go through not one but two progressions before heaving the ball to Sanzenbacher. His second read was to run.
"I was joking about it in practice all week, ‘Wouldn't that be funny if i threw it backside to the post,' " Posey said. "And (when it happened) I was just like, ‘Forget it, I'm going to throw it.' "
Sanzenbacher said he was surprised when that happened, "but when it was in the air I had to go up and get it."
Although Tressel joked that his call of the reverse pass did fool the Aggies, Ohio State linebacker Austin Spitler said the visitors did just what was expected of them to allow the onside kick to work.
"We saw that their guys were real deep and retreated real fast, and it opened up and was a successful play," Spitler said.
Finally, the second-quarter onslaught came to and end, perhaps fittingly, with a bookend option from an unbalanced line.
For his part, New Mexico State head coach DeWayne Walker said he was somewhat surprised to see the Buckeyes resort to some trickery.
"I just felt like it's his ball, he can do whatever he wants, and I respect that," Walker said. "Really, it was a compliment, to be honest with you, for him to have to go to a trick play early in the game to really generate some offense because at that stage of it we were playing some pretty good defense."
With games against the other two remaining Big Ten championship contenders - Penn State next week then Iowa - up next and a season-ending tilt with Michigan, some wondered if perhaps the Buckeyes should have saved some of their secrets, or if they were giving their opponents more things for which to prepare, but coaches and players alike said that was not the case.
"It was all based on what we saw on film with New Mexico State because Penn State is different than they are and we'll need to do what we do plus anything that may be unique for them," Tressel said.
Spitler and linebacker Brian Rolle both said the Buckeyes do not devote extra practice time to defending trick plays, anyway.
"We just play within the defense and figure that will take care of itself," Rolle said.
Spitler, on the other hand, wondered if the Buckeyes' Halloween trickery could have another effect.
"If we run a fake, we always think the guys watching our film might put that in because it worked for us, so maybe look for these guys this week to do that little surprise onside," Spitler said.