With 52 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Buckeye Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief as Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens’ pass sailed high, preserving a slim 27-22 lead for Ohio State. It didn’t look pretty, but a win is a win.
Toledo managed to out-gain the Buckeyes in total yardage 345 to 302, but Ohio State, behind a solid rushing attack led by Carlos Hyde, was able to punch the ball into the end zone just enough to come out on top. Hyde, who rushed for 76 yards on 20 carries and tacked on two touchdowns in the game, is starting to give Ohio State fans reason to question whether they would really be better off with Daniel “Boom” Herron, who is suspended for the first five games of the season.
Hyde doesn’t have the speed of Herron or freshman running back Rod Smith, but he holds onto the ball better than Smith and is built to take the hits delivered up the middle.
It looked as if the Buckeyes were going to be able to move the ball with considerable ease at the beginning of the game, when they drove down the field on their first possession and capped off the drive with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Joe Bauserman to his favorite target this year, Jake Stoneburner.
However, after a stalled drive that resulted in a missed field goal, Toledo settled down and took advantage of a blocked punt that set them up on the one-yard line. The Achilles heel for the Buckeyes last season, special teams, was again causing them issues.
The Rockets were able to catch the Buckeyes off guard early thanks to a healthy passing attack that saw MAC Player of the Year contender Eric Page score two early touchdowns. Page is one of the best receivers that Ohio State will face all season, and he showed why he was the only MAC player to be honored as a first team All-America selection in 2010. He finished the game with 12 receptions for 145 yards and was instrumental to the success of the Toledo offense throughout the afternoon.
After a very solid game a week earlier, it seems that the real Joe Bauserman has returned to the Ohio State offense. Against a weak Akron secondary, Bauserman looked very sharp, completing 75 percent of his passes. Against a much tougher Toledo defense, Bauserman’s completion rate dropped to just 53 percent.
While some fans were probably calling for freshman Braxton Miller to take over the reins when Bauserman’s deep passes were sailing over the heads of his receivers, one positive thing can be said of Ohio State’s current starter; he does not make mistakes that cost his team.
In two games as a starter, Bauserman has not turned the ball over once. While statistics like that are often overlooked when a player isn’t completing the deep pass, it is the reason that the Buckeyes are wise to keep their fifth-year senior in the game over an inexperienced freshman.
After dominating Akron in their season opener, the Toledo game could be seen as somewhat of a humbling experience for the Buckeyes. However, the end result of this game should not be as surprising to Ohio State fans as some may make it out to be. Toledo may be the class of the Mid-American Conference, and Akron may be the laughingstock. Joe Bauserman isn’t a game-changer, he is a game manager.
In the end, the Buckeyes keep their record against MAC schools perfect, and they avoided an early-season loss. With a new coach, little expectations, and a quarterback who is more Craig Krenzel than Terrelle Pryor, you can’t ask for a whole lot more.