September 17, 2011
Miami 24, Ohio State 6.
OK, look: We knew Ohio State was going to have some issues on offense. For all his faults as a passer, leader or teammate, Terrelle Pryor remained a nearly unmatched talent under center (or in the shotgun), and his production last year put him right on the verge of justifying the five-star, all-universe hype. As a junior, he finished in the top 10 nationally in pass efficiency, led the Big Ten in touchdown passes and was the best player on an offense that easily averaged more points per game (38.8) than any other Buckeye team in more than a decade. He was the MVP of back-to-back BCS bowl wins. As a senior this fall, the sky was still the limit.
When Pryor walked away in June, the Buckeyes went from a fourth-year starter with legitimate Heisman ambitions, to a fifth-year senior with nowhere near Pryor's athleticism (Joe Bauserman) and a true freshman with nowhere near Pryor's experience (Braxton Miller). And however bad that sounded on paper, in their first real test of the season, it was much, much worse.
Bauserman, the mature, 25-year-old pocket passer, completed 2 of 13 passes for 13 yards. Miller completed two of four passes for 23 yards and an interception, both completions coming on the final two plays of the game. Prior to the final, meaningless seconds, the Buckeyes completed exactly zero passes for a first down. Zero. Against the same defense that gave 348 yards passing in a loss to Maryland. When they say "the quarterback doesn't have to win the game for us," that's not what they mean.
Maybe it would have helped if the offense's other suspended senior starters — running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey and lineman Mike Adams — had been in the fold. It definitely would have helped if the rebuilding OSU defense hadn't been gashed for 188 yards on the ground by Lamar Miller, most by any individual back against the Buckeyes in more than a decade. Maybe if ousted head coach Jim Tressel was still calling the plays.
But the fact is, tonight, Ohio State had no passing game — not merely a mediocre or bad passing game, like the one on display last week against Toledo, but literally no passing game. Neither Bauserman nor Miller was a threat, or looked like he was going to be a threat any time soon against a competent defense, of which there are many more waiting over the remainder of the schedule. The running game is going to be fine. The defense had a rough night, but it's going to be alright, too. If this is what the quarterbacks are going to look like the rest of the way against non-MAC defenses, though, the Buckeyes may have inadvertently instituted a bowl ban on themselves.