Slow start dooms Buckeyes in loss
MIAMI, Fla. (AP) — 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 have slipped out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in nearly seven years.
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.
“We’ve got to do a better job all around,” Fickell said. “They made a lot more plays than we did and ultimately that’s what the game came down to.”
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 — nine of those minutes 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.
“That’s what Miami Hurricane football should be,” Miami coach Al Golden said. “Play good defense, make some explosive plays on defense and then run the ball in the fashion that we did.”
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.
“You just have to move on,” Bauserman said. “It’s a next-play mentality, whether it’s a great play or a bad play.”
Or in this case, a bad game.
“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.
“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.”
Harris finished 16 of 23 for 123 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for Miami, which opened a three-game homestand.
Jordan Hall had 87 yards on 14 carries for Ohio State, which got 54 more rushing yards from Hyde. Until the final seconds, the Buckeyes did not have a single pass for more than 10 yards.
Even Harris’ mistakes — two more interceptions, pushing his career total to 41 — couldn’t get cashed in by Ohio State, which struggled with Toledo at home last weekend and were kept out of the end zone entirely by the Hurricanes.
“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.”’