It wasn’t a dominating performance, but second-ranked Ohio State did what it needed to do to remain in the BCS Championship hunt.
Miami? The No. 12 Hurricanes must focus on winning the ACC to get into a BCS bowl. In all likelihood, Miami’s hopes of returning to the biggest game of the season were likely snuffed out with a 36-24 loss to the Buckeyes Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
“That was two good teams battling hard at the beginning of the year,” said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. “It’s going to be fun to watch both those teams the rest of the season and we’ve got to make sure that we get back to work.”
Tressel said he believe Miami is a top-10 team, but “I was also interested to see if we were a top-10 team, and I thought we played a very good team. So now if we’ll keep growing from that, we’ve got a chance.”
The defense is a big reason Ohio State has a chance to go undefeated in 2010. The Buckeyes gave up some yards (352 total), but didn’t allow a touchdown until Miami’s Jacory Harris connected with Chase Ford for a nine-yard score with 14:52.
Even more impressive was the pressure the Buckeyes put on Harris, an athletic quarterback. He threw four interceptions, including one to OSU defensive end Cameron Heyward.
“I’m still tired,” joked Heyward after the game. “We knew we had to get to him early and force some things…Our defensive line just tried to control the line the entire game.”
The defensive performance, and a school-tying record five field goals from Devin Barclay, will allow the Buckeyes (2-0) to enjoy a signature, non-conference victory.
“We will take a little time to enjoy this one, but we’ll have to move on and get ready for the next game,” said OSU tailback Brandon Saine.
Ohio State’s one-game-at-a-time approach is normal, but it’s Tressel’s style for winning championships. The Buckeyes were far from perfect on the day.
Miami returned both a kick off (88 yards by Lamar Miller) and punt (79 yards by Travis Benjamin) for scores—the first time that has happened to Ohio State in school history. Tressel wasn’t pleased with his coverage teams, but he was comforted by the Buckeyes’ success on returns (152 yards on four kickoff returns).
While Harris struggled in another big-time game, Pryor didn’t help his Heisman case any. But he didn’t hurt it either.
His 12-of-27 passing isn’t efficient enough, but he did throw for 233 yards and an 18-yard score to Saine that gave the Buckeyes the momentum early in the second quarter.
“We didn’t have any interceptions, so that’s huge. Anytime you’re over eight yards an attempt, that’s a good thing,” Tressel said. “I thought (Pryor) did some good things and he’ll have a chance to go back and study his feet. (Miami) puts a lot of pressure on you. It’s not like going against a scout team or something like that where you can stand there all day.”
Today, Ohio State is standing where it thought it would be—with its championship hopes still alive. Miami, however, will need some help and more consistency on offense to be considered an elite team this season.