Buckeyes start Fickell era with rout of Akron
Columbus, OH – Ohio State began a new era Saturday with a ranked Buckeyes pounded out a 42-0 victory over Akron at the Horseshoe.
Quarterback Joe Bauserman threw three touchdown passes -- all to Jake Stoneburner -- and added a score on the ground for the Buckeyes (1-0), who haven't lost a home opener since 1978 but are coming off a summer of major upheaval within the program.
It was the first game for new Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell, who was given the job for the 2011 season after Jim Tressel's ouster in May. Tressel guided the Buckeyes for 10 highly-successful years before resigning in the wake of a scandal involving his knowledge of players selling items and memorabilia.
Fickell, the first Ohio State graduate to coach the Buckeyes since Earle Bruce, is only guaranteed the job through this season before a national search begins. He is also the sixth former OSU assistant to take the head coaching reins. With Saturday's win, the last 21 Ohio State head coaches are now 20-0-1 in their debuts. The last OSU coach to lose his first game was Jack Ryder in 1892.
"I think they asked me afterwards [on TV], 'after six months of all this stuff, is it finally [over]?' Fickell mentioned when asked about his feelings about the issues from the summer. "That's not where our focus has been for six months. These guys have done a great job. Even with everything that's been outside and out and around us, they've done a really good job of focusing."
The Buckeyes last year won 12 games, a share of the Big Ten title and the Sugar Bowl. Of course, the school vacated those accomplishments and gave back the bowl money as part of the self-imposed sanctions resulting from the NCAA investigation.
Bauserman had been the backup the past two seasons to Terrelle Pryor, who was at the center of the scandal and left the program in June after Tressel's resignation. Bauserman, a former walk-on who spent time in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, started a football game for the first time since his senior year in high school back in 2003.
"It felt good to get out there and get good timing and get comfortable with the seniors and offensive line," said Bauserman. "I tried to lead the best I could. It's something I've always dreamed about. It felt good but now I'll watch film and critique it and move on."
On Saturday he threw for 163 yards on 12-of-16 passing, while Stoneburner finished with four catches for 50 yards. Carlos Hyde ran for 93 yards on 19 carries to lead the Buckeyes, who outgained Akron 517-90.
Clayton Moore, a sophomore transfer who originally signed with Ole Miss before playing at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, got the start at quarterback for Akron and completed a mere 6-of-16 passes for 54 yards with an interception. He also rushed for 32 yards to lead the Zips (0-1), who were 1-11 last season.
"I felt we were competitive on defense, but we missed too many tackles which was a result of being on the field too long," noted Akron head coach Rob Ianello. "On offense we didn't get anything accomplished today. I'm most disappointed in our offense."
Ohio State took its first possession and marched 74 yards on eight plays for a touchdown. Bauserman completed each of his two passes for 37 yards and capped the series with a 15-yard run up the middle into the end zone.
Back came the Buckeyes after an Akron punt, but a drive that started at their own 46 ended when Rod Smith fumbled after picking up a first down inside the Akron five-yard line.
After a trade of punts, Bauserman threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Stoneburner for a 14-0 lead with 5 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter. Ohio State's next possession ended with a missed field goal, but the Buckeyes got the ball right back after an Andrew Sweat interception at the Akron 35 and Bauserman found Stoneburner for an 11-yard score to increase the margin to 21-0.
Akron had a chance to score on the final play of the half, but T.J. Marchese missed a 41-yard field goal try.
Bauserman hit Stoneburner in the end zone from two yards away to cap a 51-yard drive to start the third quarter, extending the cushion to 28-0. It was the senior's only series of the second half.
Freshman Braxton Miller then threw a 14-yard scoring pass to Devin Smith in the first minute of the fourth quarter and Rod Smith added a two-yard scoring run later in the fourth for the final margin.
The Buckeyes improved to 109-8-4 in home openers. Their last loss at Ohio Stadium to start a season was a 19-0 setback to Penn State in Woody Hayes' last season as head coach...Ohio State has an all-time record of 105-12-4 in openers and last lost its first game of a season in 1999 -- a 23-12 decision to Miami-Florida at the Kickoff Classic in New Jersey...Ohio State improved to 7-1 all-time against Akron. The only win for the Zips came in 1894...Akron fell to 1-22 against ranked opponents since joining Division I-A (now FBS) in 1987. The only win came against No. 25 Marshall in 2002...The Zips have lost four straight season openers...Ohio State last recorded a shutout in an opener back in 2008 -- a 43-0 rout of Youngstown State.