The third-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes put the nation's longest winning streak on the line this Saturday, as they entertain the San Diego State Aztecs in non-conference action at Ohio Stadium.
San Diego State was hoping to bring a 1-0 record into this clash, but the Eastern Illinois Panthers, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, had other plans as they routed the Aztecs in southern California, 40-19. Despite the sour taste of defeat lingering, there is reason for optimism this week as SDSU has won three straight, six of its last eight, and nine of its last 13 road games.
Ohio State easily handled visiting Buffalo in its season opener, doubling up the Bulls in a 40-20 final. The win was the 13th straight for the Buckeyes, who also improved to 67-7 at home since the start of the 2002 campaign. Despite the relatively easy win, the Buckeyes dropped a spot in this week's AP poll.
This bout marks the fourth meeting between SDSU and OSU on the football field, with the Buckeyes winning each of the previous three. Each matchup has taken place in Columbus.
The Aztecs couldn't get out of their own way last week against Eastern Illinois, committing five turnovers despite amassing 440 yards of total offense, 24 first downs and scoring on 75 percent of their trips to the red zone. QB Adam Dingwell threw for 318 yards, but did not have a scoring strike and tossed four interceptions. He was also sacked four times in attempting 63 passes (27 completions). Colin Lockett led the team with eight receptions for 98 yards, while Ezell Ruffin turned four grabs into 91 yards. Lockett was also high man on the ground, taking his one carry 48 yards for a TD in the first quarter.
Unfortunately for the Aztecs, they couldn't stop the Panthers who finished with 533 yards of total offense, 361 of which came via the pass. The Panthers averaged 6.5 per offensive play in taking it to the Aztecs at nearly every turn. Jake Feely was the most active defender for SDSU, logging eight tackles, all of them solo efforts, while Vaness Harris and Nat Berhe added seven stops apiece.
With his team playing as poorly as it did, coach Rocky Long was clearly upset after the game.
"That's as bad as performance as I've ever been around, but you've got to give them a lot of credit. They came and they played extremely well and didn't make many mistakes. We played poorly and made every mistake in the book. Give up long touchdown passes, turn the ball over I think five times on offense, were in scoring position, we have to kick field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. We get a punt blocked, we get a punt turned for a touchdown against us."
He continued, "Obviously I'm responsible, so that's my fault. It was a horrible, horrible job of coaching."
Braxton Miller is a serious candidate for the 2013 Heisman Trophy, and he played well in Ohio State's season-opening win over Buffalo. Miller ran coach Urban Meyer's offense efficiently, completing 15-of-22 passes for 178 yards and two TDs before succumbing to leg cramps. Chris Fields caught two TD passes, while Devin Smith had one in amassing a team-high 61 receiving yards. RB Jordan Hall had an impressive outing as well, rushing for a career-high 159 yards and two scores.
As for the Ohio State defense, it allowed just 258 total yards to the Bulls, who managed a mere 73 yards on the ground. The Buckeyes only logged one turnover and one sack on the day, and Meyer would surely like to see the penalties diminish as his team was flagged nine times for a loss of 94 yards.
Meyer was asked after the game what he learned about his team, "The good is that they're fighters. Obviously our roster has taken some hits. We're down some players and you had some cramp issues and some young players stepped up."
He went on to say, "The negative is that you need to sustain consistent effort and intensity."