The No. 14 Ohio State Buckeyes improved to 2-0 with their 31-16 victory over the UCF Knights Saturday afternoon. Braxton Miller scored four touchdowns (three on the ground, one through the air) to help the Buckeyes shake off a pesky Knights team.
Here are 10 things we learned from Ohio State’s Week 2 victory over UCF.
1. Contrary to misguided opinions, Ohio Stadium is very loud.
Earlier this week, UCF coach George O’Leary went on record saying the ‘Shoe “is not a loud stadium.” (via Orlando Sentinel) O’Leary’s comments made waves in Columbus, and the fans in attendance made their presence known. The environment in Ohio Stadium was raucous at the beginning of the game, forcing two false starts from UCF’s offensive line on their first two possessions of the game.
2. Braxton Miller is going to do ridiculous things in Urban Meyer’s offense.
We’re only two weeks into the marriage of Meyer and Miller, and Ohio State fans should be very excited for the future. Miller had another fantastic game, throwing for 155 yards with one touchdown and one interception while adding 144 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
The full implementation of Meyer’s offense and the team’s familiarity with it won’t take place until the latter stages of the season, making Miller’s production even more incredible.
3. Injuries are kind of a downer.
Midway through the second quarter, Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde left the game with a knee injury. When the team came out after halftime, Hyde was dressed in sweatpants and was held out the rest of the contest. After the game, coaches told the media Hyde sprained his MCL, according to Doug Lesmerises of The Plain Dealer, and he’s likely to miss, at least, the next two games.
4. Ohio State needs Jordan Hall back.
The Buckeyes haven’t felt running back Jordan Hall’s absence more than they did when Hyde left the game with his knee injury. Hall injured his foot during the offseason and hasn’t played a snap this season, but the senior running back keeps progressing and is nearing a return to the field. With Hyde expected to miss some time, Ohio State needs Hall back in the fold.
5. Bri’onte Dunn can play, but Meyer is hesitant to give him a heavy load.
With Hyde injured and Hall not fully recovered, the Buckeyes turned to freshman running back Bri’onte Dunn. While he had almost two and a half quarters of play, Dunn got just five carries against UCF.
Dunn has a physical running style very similar to Hyde, and he took his five carries and rushed for 29 yards. If Hall isn’t ready to go next week against Cal, Dunn will have to get more carries to take pressure off Braxton Miller.
6. Braxton Miller has greatly improved his accuracy.
Miller finished the game against UCF completing 18 of his 24 pass attempts (75 percent), and the sophomore showed fantastic accuracy in the short to intermediate throws. This was an area Braxton struggled with his freshman season, but against UCF, Miller calmly found his open receivers and got them the ball where it needed to be.
7. The Buckeyes need more big plays through the air.
Ohio State averaged just 6.5 yards per pass attempt against UCF, down from last week’s average of 8.6. The Buckeyes’ longest pass completion went for just 15 yards, and the play-action game that was so successful against Miami just wasn’t there against UCF. The coaching staff will need to figure out ways to open up the passing game before conference play starts.
8. Ohio State’s pass defense still needs some work.
After giving up 313 passing yards to Miami last week, the Buckeyes surrendered 249 yards through the air to UCF. Ohio State did snag three interceptions—making it five total on the season—but the Buckeyes have given up some huge plays in the passing game.
Travis Howard has played better than anyone else in the secondary this year, but Bradley Roby and the other starters need to tighten up the holes in their pass coverage soon.
9. Noah Spence is the real deal.
The freshman defensive end notched a sack in his first game last week, and against UCF, Spence was Ohio State’s best pass-rusher. That’s an incredible accomplishment, considering he was on the same field with John Simon, but Spence made things very uncomfortable for Blake Bortles at times.
With Nathan Williams still finding his way back into playing shape, Spence should see plenty of time in Ohio State’s D-line rotation.
10. Ohio State is the best team in the Leaders Division.
After Wisconsin’s 10-7 loss to Oregon State—combined with the mediocre play of Purdue and Illinois so far this season—Ohio State has looked like the best team in the Leaders Division.
This is significant news after it was revealed that the Buckeyes can actually win their division this year, according to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN (h/t Doug Lesmerises of The Plain Dealer), despite not being able to compete in the conference championship game. After just two weeks, Ohio State has to like their chances going into conference play.
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