Urban Meyer Proves He’s Out to Win Games, Not Friends
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — With the game already out of reach and a record crowd at Ohio Stadium starting to head for the exit aisles, Carlos Hyde exploded through the right side of the line and outran Nebraska’s defense to the corner of the end zone.
Carlos Hyde scores OSU's last TD against Nebraska
Photo by Dan Harker
He ripped across the goal line with all the ferocity of a player scoring the game-winning touchdown and immediately ran to celebrate with his offensive line. It was quite a moment for the Buckeyes, who put 63 points on the board in Urban Meyer’s first Big Ten victory in Ohio Stadium.
It came at the expense of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, a former Buckeye safety, who watched his defense melt under the lights in Columbus Saturday as Ohio State’s offense became a raging inferno for the final three quarters of the game.
“I told our football team we killed ourselves,” said Pelini, who joined the Buckeyes as a defensive back in 1987 when Urban Meyer was working as a graduate assistant under Earle Bruce.
“I’m frustrated and disappointed.”
What looked like a tightly contested battle between two Big Ten heavyweights in the first quarter quickly became a chance for Meyer to flex his muscle as the new pontiff of Big Ten football.
It wasn’t the kind of Big Ten football fans are used to. Not in Columbus, any way. After struggling to gain 17 yards in the first quarter, the Buckeyes fell behind 17-7 on their home field. It would have been even worse if not for a great pick-6 by OSU cornerback Bradley Roby, but the wheels quickly started to come off for Pelini’s defense in the second quarter.
It all started with Braxton Miller, of course.
takes off on 72-yard run to set up an OSU TD
Photo by Dan Harker
Ohio State’s sophomore quarterback broke his own school-record for a quarterback by rushing for 186 yards, including a 72-yard run that nearly caused Pelini’s head to explode.
While he was melting down on one side of the field, Meyer continued to pour it on. The Buckeyes took a 21-17 lead on an 18-yard pass from Miller to tight end Jeff Heuerman and scored twice more before the half to take a 35-24 lead into the locker room.
It was the most points scored in an Ohio State game since 1995, but Meyer’s team might have put 50 on the board if he could have gotten things going a little earlier in the game.
“I thought the first quarter was a trainwreck for our offense,” Meyer said after the game, “but it was because they're playing very good defense.
Photo by Dan Harker
“They came out and hit us in the mouth. We had to get going, but our offensive line eventually took over that game.”
The Buckeyes rushed for 371 yards and threw for 127 more as they hung more points on Pelini’s Cornhuskers than any team he has faced since he took over the program back in 2008.
The last team to put 60 on the board against Nebraska was Colorado back in 2007 when Bill Callahan was on his way to a 5-7 season that would land him on the unemployment line.
Pelini was coaching LSU’s defense to a BCS National Championship at the time, but his defense was nowhere to be found Saturday night. To make matters worse, he was facing a coach who had no intentions of letting up.
“It’s great to know you’re playing for a coach who wants to score every time we have the football,” left tackle Jack Mewhort said afterward.
“We started out a little slow, but once we got going we felt like they couldn’t stop us. Every time we ran out there, we had confidence that we could go down the field against them and score. That comes from our coach.”
It would have been easy for Meyer to take his football of the gas in the second half, especially against one of his former players. The Buckeyes went ahead 49-31 on a 76-yard punt return by Corey Brown, and almost immediately pushed that lead to 25 points on a 33-yard touchdown run by Rod Smith.
The Cornhuskers were still fighting, but this one was over. Except it’s never over until it’s over. Not for Meyer, who won a pair of national titles at Florida using the same mentality that would have had the Buckeyes hang 100 on Pelini Saturday, if they could have.
“He told us when he first became our coach (back in January) that he wants to score 100 points in a game at Ohio State,” Mewhort added after the Buckeyes scored touchdowns on 7 of 8 possessions at one point Saturday.
“It’s exciting to know we are going to have that mentality on offense. We knew we were capable of putting up these kinds of points in this offense, but it’s really good to see all our hard work pay off.”
Hyde ran for 140 yards and four touchdowns, including that last one with just 48 seconds on the clock. Pelini said he wasn’t upset about the late touchdown – after all, Hyde did score on a run from 16 yards out after John Simon had stripped the ball away from Taylor Martinez – but Meyer probably would not have cared either way.
Urban Meyer, Luke Fickell and a child assumed to be Fickell's share the joy of victory.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“That's kind of the neat thing about where I'm at in my career,” he said earlier this fall.
“I'm not worried about what the legacy is, what's this, what's that. I want to make the great state of Ohio proud and win this darned game coming up, and look good doing it. Because our kids deserve that.”
And not just the one who line up and play for him every Saturday.
“It’s Ohio's football team,” he said after Ohio State’s 63-38 win over Nebraska.
“It's the great state of Ohio's football team. Come enjoy your players, because they're playing hard for you.
Then he added, “I loved every minute of it.”
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