Saturday, November 23, 2013

MILLER, NO. 3 BUCKEYES ROUT HOOSIERS, OLD MAN WINTER

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller leaps over the Indiana defense for his second touchdown run of the day. (AP)
COLUMBUS — Even old man winter couldn't slow down Braxton Miller and the third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

With snow and wind whipping throughout Ohio Stadium, the red-hot Buckeyes didn't skip a beat, putting up 42 points, nearly 500 yards of offense — as well as holding the nation's 14th highest scoring offense to 25 points under their season average — in a 42-14 rout of visiting Indiana.

The win for the Buckeyes (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) is a school-record 23rd straight, and also clinches them a spot in the Big Ten Championship game on Dec. 7 in Indianapolis (vs. Michigan State).

"(OSU athletic director) Gene Smith came down to present our players with the game ball, the longest winning streak in Ohio State history," OSU head coach Urban Meyer said. "We kind of avoided that thing like a team going through a no-hitter. Now that they have it, they talked about it, and it's over. And we can move on to rivalry week."

Quarterback Braxton Miller was the catalyst for the Buckeyes' attack on Saturday, racking up another 300-yard performance in the victory, as well as four total touchdowns.

His first two scores came on the ground, as he rushed past the Hoosiers' defense in the first half for touchdown runs of 37 and five yards. Miller rushed for 136 of his game-high 144 yards in the first half.

Miller ran with passion in Saturday's win ... and style. During his first touchdown run of 37 yards, Miller finished with a flip over the goal line. The second one from five out, he leaped over the defenders, and once again, flipped over the goal line.

Miller said it was the first game since his knee injury that he didn't wear a brace and he wanted to celebrate, if you will.

"Just having a little bit of fun," Miller said. "All year, actually with my knee brace and injury going on. But today, if you notice, I didn't have my knee brace on. 

"I wanted to have a little bit of fun with it."

In the second half, Miller flexed his muscle in the passing game, throwing for two touchdowns, including a 39-yard strike in the snow to Devin Smith — less than two minutes into the fourth quarter — to give the Buckeyes a 42-0 advantage.

That would be the last play of the night for Miller, who was relieved by senior backup Kenny Guiton, who was one of 19 seniors playing in his final game at Ohio Stadium on Saturday.

"Braxton is playing great right now," Smith said. "We still have a lot of work to do, but he is really playing some of the best football of his career."

Miller wasn't the only junior who stole the show on Senior Day in Columbus. Junior linebacker Ryan Shazier was just as dazzling, leading the Buckeyes' stingy defense with a career-high 20 tackles (five for loss) and a sack.

"He's playing at a very high level," Meyer said of Shazier. "A very emotional guy,  his heart is everything. He's very, like I said, he wears his feelings on his sleeve and the players love him for it. And so do I. Very emotional player that plays that way on the field. 

"Playing great right now, too."

Although there were a couple of junior headliners for the Buckeyes on Saturday, there were still some seniors who made their mark, most notably tailback Carlos Hyde.

Hyde rushed for his sixth consecutive 100-yard plus performance (18-117) on Saturday, and recorded touchdowns on runs of 16 and five yards in the win.

Hyde eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season on Saturday — the first Buckeye to hit that milestone since Beanie Wells did so in 2008. Hyde is also the first 1,000-yard back that Meyer has mentored in his head coaching career.

The Buckeyes will now turn their attention to the regular season finale against arch-rival Michigan next Saturday in Ann Arbor (12 p.m., ABC).

"I'm expecting That Team Up North to bring their A-game, and we are certainly going to bring ours," Hyde said. "It is going to be an exciting game, my last against them. 

"I'm looking forward to it."