In hindsight, the first quarter of the Urban Meyer era served as a public-service reminder. In case anyone had forgotten how inept Ohio State's offense had been in 2011, the Buckeyes spent the first 15 minutes of their season opener against Miami University reprising that futility.
In hindsight, the first quarter of the Urban Meyer era served as a public-service reminder.
In case anyone had forgotten how inept Ohio State's offense had been in 2011, the Buckeyes spent the first 15 minutes of their season opener against Miami University reprising that futility.
Then, just as murmurs of the 105,039 at Ohio Stadium began to grow into genuine concern, the Buckeyes awoke. It was as if they'd jumped from behind a curtain and yelled, "Surprise! Just testing ya!"
Ohio State gained 297 yards in the second quarter alone and rolled to a 56-10 victory over the RedHawks.
"Just a little disappointed in the first quarter," Meyer said. "But after that, what a great day."
Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller threw for 207 yards and ran for 161 - a record for an Ohio State quarterback - before leaving because of a leg cramp.
Miller completed only 1 of 7 passes in the first quarter as the Buckeyes managed two first downs on four possessions. They were fortunate to trail only 3-0. Miami botched three passes that could have given it a 14-0 lead and also missed a 24-yard field.
Meyer didn't seem that surprised by the slow start. Miami had all year to develop a plan, and the RedHawks did it well by shifting linebackers into the spots Ohio State hoped to exploit. On defense, a couple of broken coverages resulted in big plays from talented quarterback Zac Dysert.
But knocked on their heels, the Buckeyes responded.
"That's what we wanted to see - how they'd handle it," defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said. "They were so hyped and energized to take the field with all the new stuff we're doing in the program. Then all of a sudden you get kicked in the mouth. I said to (defensive line) coach (Mike) Vrabel before the game, 'I want to see how our guys react and respond when the first adversity hits.'"
Dysert threw for 303 yards, but only 138 after the first quarter.
As soon as the second quarter arrived, so did the Buckeyes. Running back Carlos Hyde, starting for the injured Jordan Hall, broke a 16-yard gain. Miller lobbed a pass to Corey Brown that the receiver turned into a 38-yard gain to the Miami 23-yard line.
Then came the play of the game. Miller saw Devin Smith in man-to-man coverage and threw high in the end zone. Smith leaped and grabbed the ball with one hand and held on for the touchdown.
"That was a wild moment," Meyer said, "and that was a moment that ignited the stadium."
It stayed lit. The Buckeyes forced a three-and-out and then drove 57 yards for another touchdown on a 5-yard pass to Brown.
Another three-and-out begat another touchdown drive. The angst of the first quarter was gone.
Ohio State had a chance to make it a 28-point quarter right before halftime when Meyer elected to go for a touchdown after Evan Spencer caught a 44-yard pass at the Miami 1 with 3 seconds left. But Miami stuffed Hyde at the goal line.
Whatever hope the RedHawks gained by that play was extinguished quickly. Miller scored on a 65-yard run on the first snap of the third quarter, the final 30 coming after he faked safety D.J. Brown with a nifty high-step, to make it 28-3.
Ohio State stretched its lead to 35-3 with the first of what figures to be many special-teams touchdowns under Meyer. The Buckeyes have touted their punt-blocking potential, but it turned out they didn't even have to do that to score.
Miami punter Zac Murphy couldn't handle a high snap, and the ball frittered into the end zone before disappearing under a scrum of players, mostly Buckeyes. Bradley Roby emerged with the ball to make it 35-3.
"In those situations, it's whoever wants it more," Roby said. "I felt the ball and wasn't going to let it go. I muscled it away from some people, maybe even someone on my team, but I wanted to make I was going to get the ball."
Miami finally got the ball in the end zone on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Dysert to Nick Harwell before Ohio State added the game's final three touchdowns.
By then, Meyer could enjoy the pageantry of his first game as Ohio State coach. The Ashtabula native, who served as a graduate assistant for the Buckeyes under Earle Bruce, soaked in Hang on Sloopy after the third quarter.
"I stared at that for a while," he said.
Then after the game, he sang Carmen Ohio with Brown and defensive lineman Garrett Goebel flanking him.
"That was a special moment," Meyer said. "And we got to sing the fight song in the locker room as well."
Meyer tries to downplay any attention spent on him, but his players knew what the day meant to him.
"You could tell he was just taking it all in," Roby said. "He was like a little kid on Christmas. You could just feel it from him."