Aug. 31, 2013

Taking a look back at a game Ohio State played on this date:

Ohio State 40, Buffalo 20

Setup: Ohio State fans will long have a soft spot for the 2012 team, the only major-college football team that season to finish with an unblemished record. That distinction, however, was about as good as a Friday car wash after a Saturday thunderstorm for Urban Meyer’s first team. The Buckeyes’ NCAA misdeeds under a previous administration barred them from postseason play in ’12, an NCAA punch that still stings. Entering the 2013 season, however, OSU was back in good graces with the governing body and ready to remove the gloves and start landing blows with intent to harm. First up for the Buckeyes, ranked second nationally in the preseason poll, was an opener against Buffalo, a Mid-American Conference palooka that had finished 4-8 the previous season.

Stars: Braxton Miller threw two touchdown passes in the first eight minutes and Jordan Hall added a 49-yard run late in the first quarter as Ohio State raced to a 23-0 lead. Hall added a 37-yard run in the second quarter and finished with a career-high 159 yards rushing. The best player on the field, however, was Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, who had nine tackles, 2 1/2 sacks and returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown to help the Bulls avoid the early knockout.

Turning point: Buffalo pulled to 30-20 early in the second half and appeared to be poking around the upset bush when Tedroy Lynch recovered a Miller fumble at the OSU 2-yard line. But Mack was penalized for hands to the face, negating the apparent turnover. So the Buckeyes kept possession and drove downfield for the breathing-room score by Chris Fields, a 21-yard reception from Kenny Guiton, who had entered when Miller left with cramping.

Impact: Ohio State spent one more week at No. 2 in the polls, then settled in at No. 3 for much of the remainder of the regular season with a mix of blowouts and entertaining, closer shaves. Fans got accustomed to seeing Guiton, the old right-hander, relieve injury-prone Miller, as well as stars such as Carlos Hyde, Ryan Shazier, Bradley Roby and newcomers including Ezekiel Elliott and Joey Bosa. The season did not, however, end in unblemished fashion. Far from it, in fact.

Quotable: “The way we came out, I thought we were going to score 100.” — Hall, on the Buckeyes’ 23-point first quarter

“I felt I got a little conservative, and it really wasn’t the way to attack these guys (the Bulls) with what they were doing.” — offensive coordinator Tom Herman, on OSU being outscored 20-17 after the first quarter

Ray Stein

rstein@dispatch.com