The Ohio State Buckeyes don't have a lot to play for in 2012 other than pride, but their 63-38 win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers was a big step toward claiming the Leaders Division title.
Ohio State isn't eligible to play in the Big 10 title game, but Scott Chipman, the assistant commissioner of communications for the Big Ten, told the Plain Dealer that the Buckeyes can still be awarded the division championship.
Things didn't start out well for the Buckeyes on Saturday night. Granted, their defense pitched in with an interception return for a touchdown, but their offense did virtually nothing over the first 15 minutes.
The problems didn't last much beyond that.
Nebraska started the quarter in field-goal range but were unable to push the ball into the end zone. They settled for a 26-yard field goal.
Braxton Miller opened Ohio State's first possession of the second quarter with a 72-yard run. Carlos Hyde needed two attempts to cover the last three yards, cutting into Nebraska's 17-7 lead.
By the end of the half, the 17-7 deficit was flipped to a 35-24 advantage.
Nebraska opened the second half with a solid 77-yard touchdown drive to cut the lead to seven. They needed to find a way to stop the Buckeyes, but it wasn't to be.
They drove 75 yards to extend the lead to 42-31.
Nebraska was forced into a three-and-out on their next possession, but that wasn't the worst of the series. Brett Maher's punt was returned 76 yards for a touchdown, and the rout was on.
The two teams were fairly equal on the stat lines. First downs were tied at 20, with Ohio State holding a 495 to 438 edge in total yards.
The real difference came in four Nebraska turnovers and a pair of return touchdowns for the Buckeyes.
Tweets of the Night
Things didn't look good early in the game for Ohio State.
Nebraska outgained Ohio State 137-17 in first quarter. Buckeyes still looking for their first first down. #NEBvsOSU— Rittenberg/Bennett (@ESPN_BigTen) October 7, 2012
At least some of the viewers were interested in seeing a bit of defense in this game. Offense is certainly fun, but at some point, it does get to be a bit ridiculous.
Remember when Ohio State & Nebraska used to play defense? Like they were known for that? #NEBvsOSU— Mike Redding (@ReddingWriting) October 7, 2012
Balance is often talked about relative to an offense. Ohio State did that one better on Sunday, scoring from all phases of the game.
Ohio State has scored a touchdown from all three units tonight (off/def/special teams). They lead Nebraska 49-31 in the third— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) October 7, 2012
Grades for Ohio State
QB Braxton Miller: A
The story for individual performance in this game was Miller. He was efficient in the air and brutal on the ground.
Miller did get off to a rocky start, but it didn't take long for him to assert his dominance once the second quarter started. He averaged 9.1 yards per pass and 11.6 yards on the ground.
Carlos Hyde: A
Hyde may not have been as efficient with the ball as Miller, and he opted to get his fourth touchdown as time was winding down instead of sitting down at the 1-yard line, but there weren't many other negatives to his play.
He was a workhorse, carrying the ball 28 times for 138 yards.
Ohio State Offense: A
There wasn't much that the offense didn't do in this game. They scored through the air and on the ground. They were so efficient after the first 15 minutes that even the defense and special teams opted to pretend they were on offense in this game.
They had a total of 495 yards and 49 points.
Ohio State Defense: B+
Fortunately, the defense didn't need to step up any more than they did. They turn a "C" into a "B+" because of the four turnovers.
Ohio State Special Teams: A
Special teams didn't have many opportunities in this game because there weren't many punts. But, Philly Brown made the most of his one opportunity with the touchdown return. The kick returns left a bit to be desired, but they held Nebraska to an average of just 18.0 yards on their eight kick returns.
Grades for Nebraska
QB Taylor Martinez: C
While the Nebraska offense moved the ball well on the night, Martinez was less than sharp at times. His three interceptions and lost fumble were costly.
He had a total of 214 yards passing and a single touchdown.
RB Rex Burkhead: A-
Nebraska Fans had a bit of a scare when Burkhead was having his knee looked at on the sidelines. He had a great first half, and the offense just isn't the same without him.
Rex Burkhead limping to bench after run. Replay didn't look good, but he's up. #NEBvsOSU— Rittenberg/Bennett (@ESPN_BigTen) October 7, 2012
It's also not the same when trailing by three scores.
Burkhead had 119 yards on 14 carries but didn't find the end zone.
Nebraska Offense: B-
Turnovers will kill a team, and they took their toll on Nebraska in this game. Three interceptions and a lost fumble helped Ohio State surge in the second half.
Nebraska moved the ball almost at will when they held onto it. They didn't do so enough.
Nebraska Defense: MIA
It seemed as though the defense left the field in the first quarter and just didn't bother to return.
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and Seattle Seahawks.
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