Buckeye Watch - Nebraska
By Tony Gerdeman
From now on, I'm just going to skip the first quarter of Buckeye games. I hope that's okay.
Besides, the second quarter is when all of the real action starts anyway, and there was plenty of action in this one.
It's still puzzling to see an offense that can look absolutely pitiful for an entire quarter then look absolutely unstoppable just fifteen minutes later.
I guess if the Buckeyes are going to struggle offensively in the first quarter, it's a good thing that they're able to put up seven touchdowns in the following three quarters.
Anyway, it wouldn't be fair if Ohio State's offense was scoring in EVERY quarter.
Defensively, the Buckeyes had their issues again. Nebraska had over 400 yards of total offense. But the defense also had three interceptions, a bunch of tackles for loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles.
They came through when they needed to, just like the offense did.
It's pretty interesting to watch each side of this team grow, including the special teams, and see each unit feeding off of the other.
But I'm guessing it's less interesting if you're the rest of the Big Ten.
6:02 Arizona quarterback Matt Scott has thrown for over 400 yards so far today. I like how Rich Rodriguez has learned to adapt to his players. Fortunately, nobody important had to suffer through his previous mistakes.
6:55 If you are tailgating for this game and you get too drunk to watch it, then you are an idiot.
7:12 Cardale Jones ain't come to play football tonight. He's not dressing, per Ohio State. However, don't look at is as not being able to dress, look at it instead as "Casual Saturday!"
7:44 Looks like C.J. Barnett is a no go this week again. He's dressed, like last week, but he's not working with the ones. Too bad, I'm guessing he was looking forward to getting a shot at intercepting Taylor Martinez.
8:10 Nebraska wins the toss and defers. The Buckeyes will get the ball. The wind is blowing pretty good towards the South Stands, which is good because if it was blowing the other way, we'd all get contact buzzes.
8:13 First down for the Buckeyes. Two tight ends. Twins left. False start on Nick Vannett. How does this get past the script approvers?
8:15 The Buckeyes go three and out, but don't worry, that's always the formula for the first quarter. Don't want to show too much too soon. Make Nebraska wait for the gun show.
8:16 Pretty loud crowd tonight. Yesterday I predicted that this would be the largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history. Judging by how early the students were in their seats, people seem to be taking this game pretty seriously.
8:18 Burkhead gets the ball and is dropped for a loss of three yards on the sideline by Ryan Shazier and Johnathan Hankins. How does Hankins get there? Was he over there waiting? There's no way he engaged a blocker and still stayed with Burkhead east/west.
8:18 John Simon sacks Taylor Martinez from the blindside, and the QB is lucky to still be holding on to the ball. Though what probably happened is that the force of the hit jammed the ball into Martinez's sternum, creating a football-shaped concave nest of splintered chest bones, which kept the ball from being fumbled.
8:20 Nebraska is facing a third and 36. What do you draw up here? I'm not sure if Martinez can even throw the ball 36 yards. Instead he scrambles for 17 yards. Nebraska punts.
8:21 Pretty fantastic defensive pursuit by the Buckeyes on that drive, and I still have no idea how Hankins gets down the sideline like that. Is he on skates? He would be the worst Sonic bellhop ever. “Hey, why are half of my large tater tots gone?” “You ordered a medium.” “No I didn't. I order a...” “You ORDERED a MEDIUM.” “Oh, that's right, a medium. Thank you large man.”
8:26 Buckeyes go three and out themselves. Ben Buchanan's punt is fair caught at the 32-yard line. Tough sledding right now. Will they have to throw deep to open up the soft stuff? Hard to QB draw into the face of these linebacker blitzes?
8:30 Third and ten for Nebraska. Martinez throws an out route and it's intercepted! Bradley Roby called his shot earlier in the week and it's a 41-yard pick six. He said on Wednesday that he had some routes that he was planning to jump on, and I'm assuming that was one of them. Big Hank threw the last block on Martinez to pave the rest of the way for Roby. Is Big Hank's future at fullback? Buckeyes lead it 7-0.
8:31 It's good to see Nebraska finally going back to Intercept-O-Tron 3000 at quarterback. He's been missed. I never liked this new version of Taylor Martinez.
8:35 Martinez keeps it on the inverted veer and there's a big hole, for six yards. Thought that was gonna be a bigger gain. Pretty good that they could close that off so quickly. Uh oh, Ryan Shazier is down and in pain. Right leg. Helmet to the knee by a teammate. Friendly fire. He limps off, heavily. So who comes in? Looks like Camren Williams.
8:38 Rex Burkhead cuts back into the vacated middle where there are no linebackers and goes about 70 yards. It ends with a facemask by Christian Bryant. Shazier comes back in, limping noticeably. I don't think he cares.
8:40 Third and goal from the one-yard line. Nebraska opens up in the Maryland I. Now Martinez splits out. Burkhead at QB. Toss to Ameer Abdullah on the triple option for the touchdown. Nebraska ties it up 7-7. That's a pretty good answer, and the Nebraska defense has no reason not to be very confident right now.
8:46 Ohio State goes three and out again. Buchanan's punt is returned to the Buckeyes' 30-yard line. Buchanan tackles him to save the touchdown. It's like the Ohio State defense doesn't realize that players can cut back tonight.
8:47 Here's the first look at the Huskers' “diamond formation” which destroyed the Buckeyes last year. Braylon Heard (a traitorous Ohioan) picks up 18 yards on the carry. Bradley Roby told me they spent a lot of time working on this specific formation during the week. I guess that's why it didn't go the entire 30 yards.
8:49 Third and two from the Ohio State three-yard line. Burkhead at quarterback again. Same play, toss to Abdullah for a touchdown. Just like last year, keep running something until they can stop it. If they can't stop it, then your job is easy. 14-7 Nebraska leads it.
8:50 Etienne Sabino wasn't in there on that drive. He was getting looked at on the sidelines. He and Shazier not at 100% makes this a difficult game to win.
8:53 Third and seven. Empty. Here comes the blitz. Miller hits Jake Stoneburner, he drops it and Daimion Stafford dives in for the interception. Replay shows that the nose of the ball hit the ground, but I've seen this call go both ways. The ball definitely hit and it definitely moved. But this call is impossible to predict the last few years. That's two drops for the Buckeyes tonight. The stink of Sparty receivers has permeated the Ohio State locker room.
8:57 Replay overturns the interception. Fortunate, but the right call. Though the bad news is that now they have to punt to Ameer Abdullah again.
8:58 It's a fake! They didn't get it. Lost it by a yard. Ben Buchanan couldn't make it. I don't mind that call, they just didn't make the right guy miss. Urban Meyer is not happy with that one. He had running room. Now they're reviewing the spot. There's a certain amount of confidence in your offense to know that if this goes bad and you fall behind 21-7, that you'll score enough to win. So that's something, I guess.
8:59 After seeing the replay, this might be a first down. He wasn't tackled, he was dragged down on top of a Husker. Now the call is confirmed. I don't know about football things anymore.
9:02 The end of the first quarter is upon us. Nebraska leads it 14-7. This is some painful football to watch. An offense that can't move the ball, and a defense that can't keep its best linebackers on the field in order to actually, you know, play defense.
9:09 Third and goal from the four. Play-action bootleg, pressure by John Simon and Ryan Shazier brings Martinez down for a loss of five on the sack. That's a huge play by Shazier considering how much pain he is in right now. The 26-yard field goal is good. Nebraska leads it 17-7, but the defense did their job after the failed punt fake.
9:10 Well, Nebraska has picked up right where they left off last season. But at least the Buckeyes held them to a field goal on the short field. Is this the drive that Ohio State marches down the field like they can do it whenever they want and finishes with a touchdown like they have done so many times this season?
9:14 Miller keeps it on the inverted veer and he somehow picks up 72 yards. He made the first man miss coming out of the hole, then broke it outside. He broke ankles and apparently his own hip because he has to come out of the game. He leaves and Guiton comes in. The replay showed death by a thousand cuts on that one. I don't really see anything unusual with Miller having to come out as many times as he does. A running back is going to come out of the game 99% of the time following a 72-yard run. He looks fine.
9:15 Hyde goes over the top for the touchdown. Miller looks okay on the sideline. Stretching a bit now. Talking to his receivers. Nebraska leads it 17-14.
9:21 Third and five for Nebraska. There's another Roby interception! I'm not sure what Taylor Martinez was looking at, but Roby certainly was. He rerouted the intended receiver and the ball came right to him. I'm guessing this was another route he was looking to take advantage of. One interception is fine, but a second in the first half? That's pretty special. I'm assuming there was a sick little boy who was visited in the hospital by Roby, and that kid probably asked for two interceptions. Roby had no choice but to oblige.
9:22 Buckeye fans better hope that Bradley Roby is happy with being in class next week.
9:23 Play-action rollout, Miller hits a wide open Jeff Heuerman on the drag for the touchdown. The offense started one direction, then completely swung the other way. The defense never bothered adjusting. Buckeyes lead it 21-17.
9:29 Consecutive false starts for the Nebraska offense. This crowd can be so annoying when it's loud! Huskers pick up three yards on first and 20. Johnathan Hankins is down. I can't blame him for pretending to be hurt because it's the only way that Mike Vrabel lets him out of the game.
9:30 Play-action, deep post from Martinez to Kenny Bell and he breaks free of Orhian Johnson and takes it down inside the ten-yard line. That was a 74-yard pick up. There was also a roughing penalty and facemask. The roughing is declined. The facemask takes it half the distance.
9:32 Another false start. What's the record?
9:33 Second and goal from the nine-yard line. Shotgun. QB draw and somehow Martinez stays in bounds down the sideline, bounces off of tacklers and takes it into the endzone for the touchdown. 24-21 Nebraska. I wonder if that was the one ridiculously poor tackling drive allowed per game.
9:40 Play-action, Miller is going down the seam to Nick Vannett, and he finds him for 32 yards. Perfect. I wonder if the tight ends were a point of emphasis in practice this week, or if Miller is simply going through his progressions.
9:43 First and goal from the seven-yard line. Hyde gets the carry and bounces it to the right side, walking into the endzone as Reid Fragel seals the edge. There was nobody there to meet Hyde. Buckeyes now lead it 28-24 with 3:11 left in the half. That was the second time this quarter that the Buckeyes answered a Nebraska scoring drive with a touchdown. If they keep doing that in this game, math tells me that they cannot lose.
9:45 Shotgun. Martinez keeps it, fumbles it on a hit from Nathan Williams. It was right in Shazier's hands, and he couldn't pick it up. And he apparently couldn't have landed on it either. Nebraska recovers. This close to the endzone, there is virtually no difference between a defensive touchdown and simply landing on the ball and giving your offense first and goal.
9:47 Third and nine. Swing pass to Burkhead gets stopped. Timeout Ohio State with 1:38 to play. Christian Bryant brought Burkhead down in the open field because he wasn't in position to destroy him. In other words, he was forced to actually wrap him up.
9:51 Trips right. The QB counter picks up 14 yards. I love this play. Miller gets ten yards before he even has to address the defense. It is blocked so well. When it's blocked perfectly, however, it can go all the way at any time.
9:54 Fourth and one with 31 seconds to play. Meyer is going for it here. I'm cool with that. Trips left. Does that mean QB counter right? Yep! Carlos Hyde blocks the lone defender and Miller zips into the endzone. The offense simply outnumbers the defense, and a defense needs at least two extra defenders to counter Miller's athleticism. That was a 31-yard touchdown run. Miller now has 137 yards rushing. Buckeyes lead it 35-24 with 23 seconds remaining in the half. Urban said he'd like to put 70 on somebody this year, will it be tonight?
9:57 Nebraska takes a knee. Buckeyes lead it 35-24 at the half. They had 242 yards of total offense in the second quarter. The offensive formula by quarter is “bad, good, bad, good”, so the third quarter will probably be a bad quarter.
9:58 I'd say the two interceptions were a big boost for Ohio State, but probably more importantly it kept the Huskers from running the ball. So keep throwing it, Intercept-O-Tron 3000, eventually you will find more Huskers than Buckeyes.
10:03 What a strange first half. The Buckeyes start out with a pick six, then instantly they are down 17-7 and it looks like things could get really bad. Then Braxton Miller runs for 146 yards in the second quarter and all of a sudden the birds are singing and the sun is shining.
10:08 The best news for the Buckeyes is that it looks like the offense can answer any score that Nebraska puts up, and even some that they don't.
10:13 Uh oh, Script Ohio is going on and the Nebraska kickers are in the way and getting booed. They finally move. How dare they! Don't they even know what “incomparable” means? It means get the hell out of the way, you jerks!
10:19 Back to football.
10:20 Play-action, Martinez goes down the field to Bell on the post and he brings it in just on the other side of the 50-yard line for a 30-odd yard reception.
10:21 Here's the diamond formation again. Martinez finds Heard on the wheel route for 18 yards. Christian Bryant saved the touchdown. Just imagine if they hadn't have worked on defending this formation.
10:22 Burkhead gets the ball and goes wide, picking up 25 yards and taking the ball down to the five-yard line. He's down. Looks like his knee. Well, Nebraska decided not to mess around in this quarter. I guess we're going to see if the Buckeye offense really can answer at will.
10:26 Third and goal from the three-yard line. Play-action, double-clutch touchdown pass to Ben Cotton. Orhian Johnson lost him. They love letting those tight ends run by them inside the five-yard line. Buckeyes lead it 35-31. That drive went 77 yards in seven plays, in just 2:10. That's effective efficiency.
10:33 The TV shows Rex Bikehead, I mean Burkhead, riding a bike on the sideline.
10:36 Empty set. Now Hyde motions into the backfield. Now Philly does. Play-action to Hyde and Miller finds Jeff Heuerman down the field and he gets tackled at the one-yard line. Three defenders went after Philly Brown, who was the pitch man. That pitch hasn't been effective enough to need three defenders this season.
10:37 Easy touchdown for Carlos Hyde from one yard out. He was untouched after powering in right behind Zach Boren. Well, you wanted an answer. I'd say the test has been aced.
10:41 Storm Klein just sacked a scrambling Taylor Martinez at the Nebraska ten-yard line. I didn't think he was going to bring him down in the open field, but he got a paw out and tripped him up. Nebraska is now very much behind schedule.
10:42 Second and 22. Uh oh, it just got worse. John Simon sacks Martinez, who had zero chance to get out of the way. Nobody bothered to block him. Why would they? It's not like he eats more souls by 9 a.m. than you do all day long.
10:42 Third and 26. Martinez scrambles for 18 yards before being planted by Garrett Goebel. You know if Garrett is going to chase you around for that long, you're going to pay for it at the end.
10:43 Nebraska will punt. Good time to return the favor with a fake? Nope, instead Brett Maher booms one and Corey Brown dodges a couple of tacklers and returns it 76 yards for a touchdown! The crowd rather appreciates what they have just seen. Brown made a couple of moves, but he didn't really have to work that hard for the touchdown. I guess they should have faked it. Buckeyes lead it 49-31.
10:53 First and ten from the Ohio State 35-yard line. Play-action, and Martinez throws it as far down the field as he can, and Orhian Johnson intercepts it at the Ohio State ten-yard line. Intercept-O-Tron 3000 is running the show tonight. That might be the ugliest throw I've ever seen, and I've seen myself try to throw left handed. (Not sure why, but any time I throw a football left-handed, I also have to add in a sad grunt). Orhian Johnson felt so bad for intercepting that pass that he freely lost a yard on the return at the end.
10:55 First and 14 from the Ohio State six-yard line for the Buckeyes. Miller keeps it and picks up 24 yards. Everybody was expecting the QB counter because of the formation, and they went with the inverted veer keeper instead. Miller now has a career high with 170 yards rushing.
10:58 The end of the third quarter is upon us. The Buckeyes are leading 49-31. I'm guessing the recruits in attendance are liking what they are seeing. If they aren't, then maybe Michigan will take them.
11:02 Third and five. Trips left. Miller keeps it, spins and picks up nine yards. The kid is amazing. Even in the press box there are constant oohs and ahhs. Though, to be fair, we do the same when the brisket shows up.
11:03 Fumble! Carlos Hyde was chewing up yards like one of those old-timey lawn mowers, then got the ball stripped as he was plowing through a defender. Nebraska lands on it. Is this where the Huskers make their miracle comeback happen?
11:05 Nope, three and out. Sorry to doubt that this game was in fact over.
11:09 Hyde gets the ball right back and picks up seven yards. No time to hang your head tonight.
11:10 Hyde busts through and picks up about 25 yards. The offensive line is winning every battle right now. The Nebraska defense is done. I remember seeing the same look on Michigan State's defensive line – when they weren't trying to eye gouge, of course.
11:11 Rod Smith comes in for Hyde. He gets the carry and slices, dices, and finds the endzone from 31 yards out. What a run! The Buckeyes' third-string (and one-time fourth string) tailback breaks four tackles against possibly the best team in the Legends Division. Ohio State leads it 56-31. That was a Roger Craig run when Tecmo Bowl used to cheat when you played the 49ers. I hate you Joe Montana and Jerry Rice.
11:17 John Simon tackles Ameer Abdullah for a loss of five yards out of the diamond formation. Okay, so maybe Roby wasn't lying to me.
11:19 First and goal from the two-yard line. While there is a stop in the action, I'm going to head down to the field. I didn't bother to bring a coat. I ain't skurred.
11:26 Touchdown run for Martinez. Was he down? Replay up on the scoreboard looks like he was. The Huskers line up for the extra point. The ref comes running in to review it and the crowd rejoices.
11:28 The touchdown stands. Nebraska makes it 56-38 with 5:38 to play. Time to answer yet again for the Buckeye offense? Nebraska squibs the kickoff. Devin Smith takes a knee. No sense in scoring a touchdown right away.
11:33 The Buckeyes go three and out because there's no harm in doing so. Brutus is now doing his customary pushups. He's got 56 to do tonight. He finishes them off, but doesn't do the last one one-handed like he used to. But I can't blame him, Brutus is like 60 years old.
11:36 Another sack by John Simon and this time he forces the fumble! Michael Bennett calmly plops down on it like it's a bean bag chair and he's getting ready to watch three hours of Jersey Shore. Buckeye ball with 3:02 to play.
11:37 So who do you give the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week to? Bradley Roby or John Simon?
11:40 Buckeyes are just burning the clock now. Third and four with 1:26 to play. A familiar situation here. Get the first down and you can take a knee. Hyde gets the ball, picks up four yards and that's the ballgame.
11:41 Wait a sec, the Buckeyes didn't bother with the knee and instead gave it to Hyde again who took it 16 yards for his fourth touchdown of the night. Buckeyes lead it 63-38 with 48 seconds to play.
11:42 So who do you give the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week to? Denard Robinson or Carlos Hyde?
11:44 Ballgame. Nebraska lets the clock run. Buckeyes win it 63-38.
11:52 I just saw Kerry Coombs run up the tunnel to the locker room pumping his fists like he just won the lottery and he's going to tell everyone in his office what he really thinks of them.
11:54 With wins over Michigan State and Nebraska, I think Ohio State is now technically in first place in both the Leaders and Legends Division.
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