COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Second-ranked Ohio State extended the nation's longest winning streak to 13 games on Saturday in Ohio Stadium, bolting to an early lead behind Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller and securing a 40-20 victory over Buffalo.
The nonconference matchup wasn't the blowout that many anticipated, but the Buckeyes did enough to win the opener after their perfect 12-0 season in Urban Meyer's first year as coach in 2012.
Miller completed 15 of 22 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception, and rushed for 77 yards on 17 carries. Senior running back Jordan Hall, starting in place of suspended Carlos Hyde, rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
Buffalo made the game interesting early in the third quarter. On its first possession after halftime, quarterback Joe Licata found Alex Neutz for a 10-yard touchdown pass that trimmed Ohio State's lead to 30-20.
The Bulls could have pulled even closer, but a personal foul penalty against Buffalo nullified a Miller fumble at his 1 on a sack. Ohio State took advantage of its good fortune, driving 91 yards in 14 plays to boost the margin to 37-20 on a 21-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Kenny Guiton to wide receiver Chris Fields.
The Buckeyes capped the scoring with a 39-yard field goal by Drew Basil with 7:05 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Licata connected on 19 of 32 passes for 185 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The Bulls were outgained 460-258 in total yards.
It looked like the Buckeyes would make the game a blowout in the first quarter, scoring on all three of their possessions.
Miller, a third-year starter as a junior, made a Heisman statement with his first throw, a 47-yard touchdown strike to junior receiver Devin Smith on the opening possession.
Miller was just as impressive on the next drive, completing all three of his passes, including a 7-yard touchdown throw to Fields. Guiton's two-point conversion pass to Hall made it 16-0 with 7:05 left in the first quarter.
Hall boosted the Buckeyes' lead to 23-0 with 38 seconds left in the first quarter, bursting untouched up the middle for a career-long 49-yard touchdown run.
Two Ohio State mistakes gave Buffalo some life and led to second-quarter touchdowns.
After a fumble by Buckeyes freshman speedster Dontre Wilson, Licata threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Matt Weiser to make it 23-7 with 9:18 left in the second quarter. On Ohio State's next possession, Bulls standout linebacker Khalil Mack intercepted a Miller pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown, pulling Buffalo to 23-13.
The mistakes appeared to light a fire under the Buckeyes. Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards and Hall sprinted 37 yards on the next play for his second touchdown of the game and a 30-13 lead.
Miller was 13 of 18 in the first half for 178 yards and both touchdowns. Hall rushed for 126 yards on two carries and his two TDs.
Licata was 12-of-23 passing for 95 yards with a touchdown and interception in the first half.
Ohio State outgained Buffalo 310-125 in total yards in the opening half.
NOTES: Ohio State All-Big Ten linebacker Ryan Shazier went to the locker room in the first half with cramps but returned in the third quarter. ... Buckeyes starting safety C.J. Barnett missed the game with a lower leg injury. ... Ohio State defensive lineman Tommy Schutt is out six to eight weeks with a broken foot. Chase Farris moved from the offensive line to defensive line this week to add depth. ... Buffalo defensive coordinator Lou Tepper is quite familiar with Ohio State, having faced the Buckeyes while he was coach at Illinois from 1991 to 1996. Tepper's teams beat Ohio State twice, but his 1995 Fighting Illini gave up 314 yards rushing to Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George. ... Buffalo's final game last season also was in Columbus. The Bulls lost to Bowling Green during Thanksgiving weekend at Crew Stadium, home of Columbus' Major League soccer team. ... Ohio State and Buffalo met for the first time in history. ... Ohio State's preseason ranking was its highest since 2010 -- Jim Tressel's final year -- when it also started the season at No. 2. ... Licata is Buffalo's sixth opening-game starter at quarterback in the past six years. ... The Bulls last played a team ranked as high as No. 2 in 2006 when they lost to Auburn. ... Meyer is 2-0 against Buffalo, having beaten the Bulls while he was Bowling Green coach. ... Ohio State last lost a season opener in 1999.