Ohio State overcomes slow start to pummel Nebraska 63-38

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State had 17 yards and zero first downs after the first quarter Saturday.
Then the Buckeyes awoke from their offensive slumber in big fashion.
No. 12 Ohio State scored touchdowns on five consecutive drives and returned a punt for a score, steamrolling to a 63-38 victory over No. 22 Nebraska before an Ohio Stadium-record crowd of 106,102 fans.
Quarterback Braxton Miller had 313 yards of offense as the Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) finished with 498 yards -- 481 coming in the final three quarters.
"I thought the first quarter was a train wreck for our offense," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "They came out and hit us in the mouth. We had to get going, but our offensive line eventually took over that game."
Nebraska (4-2, 1-1) forced four three-and-outs to start the game but didn't come up with another stop until early in the fourth quarter. That's when defensive tackle Thad Randle recovered a Carlos Hyde fumble at the Nebraska 17-yard line -- after Hyde had gained 15 yards.
Hyde ran for 140 yards on 28 attempts with four touchdowns, all career highs.
"We wanted to really rely on Carlos Hyde a little bit," Meyer said, "to pound him that way, I felt he earned it."
The Huskers offense, which rolled up 437 yards, tried keeping pace with Ohio State, but quarterback Taylor Martinez threw three interceptions, two leading to Buckeyes touchdowns, and lost a fourth-quarter fumble, leading to another touchdown.
"No one's more disappointed than I am," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "Obviously we didn't play our best football. Like I just told the football team, we need to win out. We need to win out. That's the only way we can get ourselves to Indianapolis (for the Big Ten championship game).
"I just told our football team we killed ourselves. We've been here before, we've done it before on the road, and that's the most disappointing thing. Believe me, I'm frustrated and I'm disappointed."
Nebraska was down 35-31 with 12:50 remaining in the third quarter after a seven-play, 77-yard drive ended in Martinez's 3-yard TD pass to tight end Ben Cotton.
Ohio State responded with a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive, highlighted by Miller's 35-yard pass to tight end Jeff Heuerman to set up Hyde's 1-yard TD run.
The Buckeyes forced a three-and-out, and Corey Brown returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown to give Ohio State control.
Rod Smith ran 33 yards for a touchdown to give the Buckeyes a 56-31 lead, and Hyde tacked on a 16-yard TD run after the Martinez fumble. Martinez scored in between for Nebraska on a 2-yard run, capping an 11-play drive.
Martinez completed 15 of 25 passes for 214 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Nebraska's Rex Burkhead ran for 119 yards on 14 carries.
Miller gained 185 yards on 16 carries and threw for 127 yards on 7-of-14 passing. Hyde ran for 138 yards on 28 attempts.
Ohio State led 35-24 after an action-packed first half that featured four lead changes.
The Buckeyes jumped on top 7-0 when Bradley Roby intercepted a Martinez pass and returned the ball 41 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.
Nebraska, which outgained Ohio State 137-17 in the first quarter and held the Buckeyes without a first down, had a 14-7 lead heading to the second quarter.
The Huskers scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 3 yards by Ameer Abdullah, who both times took a deep pitch by Burkhead, the starting running back who went under center on both snaps.
Burkhead's 73-yard run set up Abdullah's first touchdown, and Abdullah's 43-yard punt return set up his second score.
Nebraska sniffed out a fake punt deep in Ohio State territory but settled on Brett Maher's 26-yard field goal for a 17-7 lead.
That's when Ohio State's offense came to life.
Miller's 72-yard run led to a Hyde 1-yard touchdown run, and Roby intercepted Martinez a second time to set up another quick touchdown, this one an 18-yard pass from Miller to Heuerman for a 21-17 Buckeyes lead.
Martinez bounced back, delivering a 74-yard pass to Kenny Bell over the middle as the quarterback was hit on a blitz. The play led to Martinez's 9-yard tackle-breaking touchdown run to give Nebraska a 24-21 lead with 6:59 remaining in the second quarter.
However, Ohio State responded with two more touchdowns before halftime -- a 7-yard run by Hyde and Miller's 31-yard run on fourth-and-short with 31 seconds remaining.
NOTES: Martinez entered the day having thrown only three interceptions in his previous 12 games. ... Burkhead's 73-yard run in the first quarter was a career long, and it gave him exactly 3,000 career rushing yards. Burkhead left the game with an apparent knee injury, but Pelini said Burkhead would be fine. ... Ohio State had 242 yards in the second quarter after having only 17 after the first quarter.