|Miami tailback Lamar Miller (6) runs past Ohio State linebacker Etienne Sabino in Saturday night's 24-6 win over the Buckeyes in Miami. (AP/Wilfredo Lee)|
MIAMI (AP) — When Miami's buses arrived at the stadium Saturday, swarms of eager fans started shaking them so much that new coach Al Golden couldn't make his way down the stairs.
"I'm not a very good athlete to begin with," Golden said.
It's about the only thing the Hurricanes had difficulty with in their home opener.
Lamar Miller ran for 184 yards — 54 on Miami's first play from scrimmage — and Jacory Harris threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to Allen Hurns, helping the Hurricanes top No. 17 Ohio State 24-6 on Saturday night in a matchup of teams dealing with NCAA scandals.
Miami outgained Ohio State 363-209 and held the Buckeyes to an abysmal 4 of 18, 35-yard passing performance by quarterbacks Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller. Harris threw two interceptions, pushing his career total to 41, but Golden was in no mood afterward to spend too much time thinking about any possible negatives.
After all, Ohio State had won 24 of its last 26 games before Saturday.
"We just beat the Ohio State Buckeyes 24-6," Golden said. "There ain't no half-full glass here. Ain't no half-full glass. Kids played tough. They played with passion."
Ohio State got into the red zone twice and settled for field goals. The Buckeyes allowed Miami to go 9 for 15 on third-down conversion chances, and the Hurricanes held the ball for 11:16 in the final quarter — much of that coming after Marcus Robinson punched the ball away from Braxton Miller in Miami territory. Mike Williams recovered for the Hurricanes and the celebration started revving up right there.
"This win feels wonderful," Harris said. "It feels great to get out there and beat a great team like Ohio State. We have much respect for them, but we made sure we came out with the 'W.'"
Ohio State interim coach Luke Fickell was hoping his team would start quickly, avoid giving up big plays and take advantage of any opportunities Miami provided.
The Buckeyes failed on all counts, and now are in danger of slipping out of The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in nearly seven years.
The Buckeyes have appeared in every poll since Nov. 28, 2004. And for the first time in exactly 23 years, the Buckeyes lost a road game to an unranked nonconference opponent — the last time that happened was Sept. 17, 1988, a 42-10 defeat at Pittsburgh in John Cooper's first season.
Now Fickell knows how that feels. His team went three-plays-and-out on the first two possessions, got into a 14-0 hole before the game was 10 minutes old, and never got rolling. A team dealing with suspensions and injuries, at least at this point, looks nothing like Ohio State teams of recent years, the ones who owned the Big 10 and typically found their way into the national-title picture.
"We pride ourselves on not giving up big plays," Fickell said. "But the big plays hurt us."
Braxton Miller completed his last two passes on the game's final, meaningless drive — which at least salvaged something, albeit merely in the statistical sense, for Ohio State. The four completions matched the program's worst total for any game in the last 15 years, something that happened on three other occasions.
"I'm kind of shocked," Ohio State's Carlos Hyde said. "I wasn't expecting to lose to these guys."
The win snapped a four-game slide dating to last season for the Hurricanes (1-1), who got their first win over a ranked opponent since beating Oklahoma on Oct. 3, 2009.
Miami gave up 348 yards passing in a season-opening loss at Maryland. Of the six Terrapins who caught passes that night, five finished with more yards than Ohio State had through the air as a team on Saturday, and the one who fell short had 34 yards.
"We have a lot of talent," said Miami linebacker Sean Spence, one of five Hurricanes returning from one-game suspensions for accepting extra benefits from a former booster. "As long as we continue playing with pride and passion, the sky's the limit for us."
How bad was it for the Buckeyes? Ohio State seemed to give up on the game in the final minutes, not even bothering to stop the clock with one of their three timeouts as Miami moved down the field in the final minutes with a 17-6 lead.
Mike James plunged in from the 1 with 33 seconds left, capping the scoring, as many of the 10,000 or so scarlet-clad fans began leaving in earnest.
Jordan Hall had 87 yards on 14 carries for Ohio State, which got 54 more rushing yards from Hyde. The Buckeyes struggled with Toledo at home last weekend and were kept out of the end zone entirely by the Hurricanes.
"We lost, so apparently we didn't do a good enough job," Ohio State safety C.J. Barnett said. "I don't know what to tell you."