Buckeyes, Miller beat UCF, 31-16
COLUMBUS (AP) — Urban Meyer has a decidedly imperfect team with a perfect record.
Braxton Miller became the first Ohio State quarterback to rush for three touchdowns in 34 years and he passed for another score to lead the 14th-ranked Buckeyes to a 31-16 victory over Central Florida on Saturday.
Despite a 2-0 mark, Meyer, in his first year at Ohio State, is far from pleased.
Pity his players this week in practice.
“We’re not where I thought we’d be,” he said of the Buckeyes’ progress through two lopsided wins in which they’ve manhandled teams by a combined score of 87-26.
In rapid succession, Meyer also said enough to depress any scarlet-and-gray clad fan.
“In pass defense we have a long way to go and in getting pressure on the quarterback,” he said.
He added, “Offensively we’re down to our third tailback and it looks like it. We have to get better. The guys carrying the ball are talented — just terrible mistakes.”
One thing he doesn’t have to worry about is Miller’s production.
A week after setting a school record for quarterbacks with 161 rushing yards in a 56-10 win over Miami (Ohio), Miller finished with 141 yards on 27 carries. His number kept coming up after starting running back Carlos Hyde left with a first-half knee injury.
Miller’s scoring runs covered 37, 6 and 8 yards. He also found Jake Stoneburner on a 12-yard touchdown pass.
Miller hit on 18 of 24 passes for 155 yards — no completion going for more than 15 yards — with one interception.
“Everything they talk about Braxton Miller is accurate,” UCF coach George O’Leary said. “He can make you look very foolish. At times he did with our team.”
The 27 carries were a career high for the sophomore. No other Buckeye had more than seven attempts.
“Carlos went down so I had to help out with the running to get that going,” Miller said.
Of course, Meyer was none too happy that his top player, who he said ran it too much a week ago when he had 17 attempts, is getting hit so often. At the same time, Meyer believes using Miller was the only way to beat UCF.
“We have to find a way to win that game,” Meyer said. “And I’m open for any suggestions.”
After a delay, he laughed and added, “Not really.”
Miller said his arm was sore and his muscles ached a lot more than after the opener.
“I wasn’t as sore as I am right now but there’s a big gap between 27 and 17 (carries),” he said.
The last Ohio State quarterback to rush for three touchdowns in a game was Art Schlichter against Illinois in 1978.
Ahead by a tenuous seven points at the start of the second half, the Buckeyes put the game out of reach with big contributions from Miller and the defense.
Miller was at the controls as the Buckeyes took the kickoff and rolled 76 yards in 12 plays. At the UCF 12, he looked right, then rolled left before lobbing a pass barely over the outstretched arm of cornerback Jordan Ozerities to Stoneburner in the end zone.
After the extra-point and kickoff, UCF’s Blake Bortles threw a ball up for grabs that was picked off by linebacker Etienne Sabino at the Knights’ 32.
“That’s a horrible decision,” Bortles said. “I’ve got to throw that ball out of bounds. I put our defense in a tough situation.”
Miller took over from there. He ran for nine yards, passed to Devin Smith for 15 and then covered the last eight yards behind fullback Zach Boren.
The Buckeyes appeared to flounder soon after Hyde, who has a sprained ligament and is week-to-week, left the game. They were already without starter Jordan Hall, who missed all of camp and the first two games after surgery to repair a cut tendon in his right foot.
It was almost as if Miller — passing or running — was their only weapon. On this day, at least, that was enough.
With the game tied at 10 late in the half, Miller completed two passes for 24 yards, kept on a designed run for 24 yards before covering the final 6 yards on a sprint around left end.
Miller raced untouched 37 yards up the middle on a quarterback delay for a quick 7-0 lead on the Buckeyes’ opening possession.
Bortles threw two TD passes for UCF (1-1) but he was also intercepted three times while completing 25 of 41 passes including TDs of 1 yard to Justin Tukes and 2 to Billy Giovanetti. Storm Johnson, starting in place of Latavius Murray, out with a shoulder injury, rushed for 75 yards on 12 carries.
Meyer was left seething about Miller’s interception, fumbles lost by Zach Boren and Rod Smith, and 79 yards in penalties.
“I don’t want to say we’re not a good team. But we’re not,” said Meyer, whose team hosts California next Saturday. “We’re just mushing around out there. And we’ve got to be much better than we are.”
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