GAME NOTES: The second game of Urban Meyer's tenure at Ohio State takes place this Saturday afternoon, as the 14th-ranked Buckeyes entertain the UCF Knights at the Horseshoe in Columbus.
UCF is playing its second straight game in the state of Ohio after opening the season with a resounding 56-14 win at Akron last Thursday night. The Knights are seeking their first-ever win against a ranked non-conference opponent, and their first win in this their seventh bout against a team from the Big Ten Conference. The last Big Ten team UCF faced was Penn State back in 2004.
UCF head coach George O'Leary was pleased with his team's effort in the win at Akron, "The players played with great effort, made some plays and we got some turnovers. That was important," He continued, "Overall, it was good effort. A lot of people played tonight, which was what we wanted to do. We were very productive in a lot of areas."
The Buckeyes made a winner of Meyer is his debut last Saturday by whipping visiting Miami-Ohio, 56-10. The victory improved Ohio State coaches to 21-0-1 in their first game, and it moved Meyer's career record to 105-23.
It was the 13th straight season-opening victory for Ohio State, and the team is 32-2 in its last 34 lidlifters overall. The win was also Ohio State's 58th straight at home against unranked, non-conference foes, and the team is 58-7 at Ohio Stadium since the start of the 2002 season.
Meyer spoke after the game about getting that first win under his belt, "Just a little disappointed in the first quarter. But after that, what a great day. We enjoy a win. We all know it's difficult to win in major college football. Now we've got one and now we get ready for next week."
This bout marks the first meeting between UCF and Ohio State on the football field.
A touchdown in the game's first five minutes set the tone for the Knights in last week's opener, and 28 unanswered points in the second quarter staked the team to a 35-0 halftime lead. When it was all said and done, the UCF offense generated 386 total yards, 206 of which came on the ground. Latavius Murray carried the ball 14 times for 108 yards and a TD, and Storm Johnson reached the end zone twice.
Blake Bortles was nearly perfect in completing 13-of-16 pass attempts for 168 yards and three TDs against only one INT. Rannell Hall caught four balls for 94 yards and two scores -- the longest coming on a 56-yard pass play in the third quarter.
Defensively, the Knights stood tall against the run last week, permitting a mere 69 net rushing yards to an Akron team that ran 81 offensive plays compared to 65 for UCF. Against the pass, the visitors yielded 256 yards and two TDs, but the outcome of the game was never really in doubt.
Kemal Ishmael led the Knights with nine tackles, and he added a fumble recovery to his stat line. The team as a whole was credited with seven TFL, three sacks and four turnovers, which included three fumble recoveries.
Quarterback Braxton Miller ran for 161 yards -- a single-game record for an Ohio State signal-caller -- and threw for 207 yards and two TDs in last week's rout of Miami-Ohio. Philly Brown led all Buckeye pass catchers with seven grabs for 87 yards and a score, but the most talked about reception of the game came on a 23-yard, highlight-reel catch by WR Devin Smith in the second quarter.
In addition to Miller's exploits on the ground, RB Carlos Hyde added 82 yards and two TDs helping OSU tally five rushing TDs on the day. In all, the Buckeyes churned out 538 yards of total offense, compared to 312 for the RedHawks.
Like UCF, the Ohio State defense was dominant against the run last week in holding Miami to minus-1 yard rushing, and the unit as a whole logged two sacks and three turnovers. The Buckeyes were particularly tough on third down, allowing Miami just 5-of-19 success.
Linebacker Ryan Shazier led the way with eight tackles, DB Bradley Roby added six stops, a fumble recovery and two PBU, and CB Travis Howard logged a pair of INTs.
While admitting there was some rust to start the game, Shazier was pleased with the way he and his teammates played, "I think we did really well even though we started slow on offense and defense, we made our adjustments and really improved from the second quarter on."
UCF presents a much stiffer test for Ohio State, but the Buckeyes are clearly the better team and should be able to pick up their second win of the season. Still, the Knights aren't about to roll over and play dead so expect the game to be competitive, at least for a while.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio State 31, UCF 14