Columbus, Ohio - Nebraska scored 17 straight points to take a 17-7 lead, but No. 12 Ohio State's offense got rolling in the second quarter and never slowed down in a 63-38 win over the No. 21 Huskers at Ohio Stadium on Saturday night.
With the setback, Nebraska slipped to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten, while the Buckeyes improved to 6-0 and 2-0 in the conference. Ohio State's 63 points were the fourth-most scored against the Huskers in history, and came despite the NU defense holding Ohio State without a first down in the first quarter.
Nebraska outgained Ohio State 137-17 in the first quarter, including 121 rushing yards against a Buckeye defense that had surrendered an average of just 100 yards through their first five games.
The Husker defense was stout in the opening quarter, but Ohio State's defense provided the game's opening points with a 41-yard Bradley Roby interception return touchdown of a Taylor Martinez pass intended for Quincy Enunwa. It was the first of four turnovers by the Huskers on the night, which Ohio State converted into 21 points. OSU turned it over just one time, and the Huskers were unable to turn the Buckeye miscue into points.
The rest of the first quarter belonged to the Huskers on both sides of the ball. The defense held quarterback Braxton Miller and the Buckeye offense to just 17 total yards while forcing three punts in the opening period. Miller carried four times for minus-nine yards in the first quarter and went just 1-for-4 passing for seven yards.
Senior I-back Rex Burkhead unleashed a career-long 73-yard run to put the Big Red on the doorstep for its first touchdown. Fellow I-back Ameer Abdullah capped the drive with a one-yard run on a handoff from Burkhead to tie the score with 5:26 left in the quarter. Abdullah took NU's second score over from three yards out on another handoff from Burkhead less than four minutes later to send the Huskers to the second quarter with a 14-7 lead.
In addition to two rushing touchdowns, Abdullah amassed 213 all-purpose yards on the night, including a 43-yard punt return to start NU's second scoring drive of the night at the OSU 28.
The Huskers built even more momentum early in the second quarter when Steven Osborne snuffed out a fake punt attempt by the Buckeyes' Ben Buchanan to give NU the ball at the OSU 31. Burkhead carried the ball four times for 16 yards to move the ball to the OSU 4, but a sack of Martinez on third down forced NU to settle for a a 26-yard Brett Maher field goal.
Maher's kick pushed NU's edge to 17-7 with just under 12 minutes left, but Miller finally gave the Buckeyes a first down and then some with a 72-yard scamper on OSU's opening offensive play of the second quarter. Two plays later, running back Carlos Hyde pounded to paydirt from one yard out for the first of his four touchdowns.
Less than two minutes later, Miller struck through the air with an 18-yard pass to Jeff Heuerman to give the Buckeyes the lead back at 21-17. The touchdown pass allowed OSU to capitalize on a short field after Martinez was intercepted a second time by Roby to give the Buckeyes the ball at the NU 20.
The Husker offense responded four plays later with a nifty nine-yard run to the left side to give Nebraska the lead again at 24-21 with 6:59 left in the half. Martinez's first of two touchdown runs was set up by his 74-yard strike to sophomore wide receiver Kenny Bell. The catch was a career long for Bell, who finished the night with five receptions for 133 yards.
But the rest of the half belonged to the Buckeyes, as Hyde capped a 10-play drive with a seven-yard scoring run to give Ohio State the lead for good at 28-24 with 3:11 left in the half.
Ohio State took even more momentum to the locker room with Miller's 31-yard scoring sprint on 4th-and-2 with 23 seconds left to give the Buckeyes a 35-24 halftime lead.
Miller rushed for 146 yards on six carries in the second quarter alone to finish the first half with 137 yards on 10 first-half totes. Hyde added 25 yards in the second quarter to finish the half with 37 yards on 11 carries, as Ohio State rushed for 171 yards as a team in the second quarter. The Buckeyes put up 242 total yards in the second quarter to finish the half with 259 yards. Nebraska finished the half with 241 total yards, including 146 on the ground, but just 25 rushing yards in the second quarter.
Ohio State kept rolling up yardage in the second half, finishing with 498 total yards, including 371 on the ground. Miller finished the game with 186 rushing yards on 16 carries, while adding 127 yards through the air on 7-of-14 passing. Hyde added 140 rushing yards on 28 carries, including 103 in the second half.
Nebraska finished the game with a balanced effort on offense with 437 total yards, including 223 rushing yards on 46 carries to go along with 214 passing yards on 25 attempts.
Nebraska opened the second half with the ball, and Martinez quickly marched the Huskers the length of the field in just over two minutes. NU's 77-yard drive was capped by Martinez's three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ben Cotton to cut the OSU lead to 35-31.
However, Burkhead's night ended on the drive after a 24-yard run put the Huskers at the OSU 5. Despite it being his only carry of the second half, Burkhead notched his 13th 100-yard rushing game of his career. He finished the night with 119 yards on 14 carries to push his career total to 3,042 rushing yards, becoming just the seventh Husker in history to reach the 3,000-yard milestone.
But the Buckeyes answered with a quick-paced drive of their own, capped by Hyde's third touchdown run of the night, this time from one yard out with 8:15 left in the third.
OSU created more separation heading into the final quarter, as Corey Brown uncorked a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown to put Ohio State up 49-31 at the end of three quarters.
Any hopes of a dramatic Nebraska comeback for the second straight week and a second straight season against the Buckeyes ended with Rod Smith's 33-yard scoring sprint with 10:27 left in the game.
Nebraska did cut into the OSU edge when Martinez's capped a 67-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run with 5:50 left. He finished the night with 18 carries for 40 yards, while completing 15-of-25 passes for 214 yards and another score. However, he did throw three interceptions, including two that led to OSU touchdowns. He also was sacked four times, with the last forcing a fumble that led to the Buckeyes' final touchdown.
Hyde capped his four-score night with a 16-yard touchdown run with 43 seconds left in the game to push the two teams past 100 combined points on the night.
Nebraska is off next Saturday before hitting the road again on Oct. 20 to battle Northwestern in Evanston. A game time has not yet been announced.
Final: #12 Ohio State 63, #21 Nebraska 38
Saturday, Oct. 8, 2012
Ohio Stadium (Columbus, Ohio)
First Quarter (NEB, 14-7)
OSU - 11:02 - Bradley Roby 41 INT return (Drew Basil kick) - OSU 7-0
NEB - 5:26 - Ameer Abdullah 1 run (Brett Maher kick) - 7 plays, 92 yards, 3:03, 7-7
NEB - 1:50 - Abdullah 3 run (Maher kick) - 4 plays, 28 yards, 1:07, NEB 14-7
Second Quarter (OSU, 35-24)
NEB - 11:59 - Maher 26 field goal - 8 plays, 22 yards, 3:31, NEB 17-7
OSU - 10:49 - Carlos Hyde 1 run (Basil kick) - 3 plays, 75 yards, 1:10, NEB 17-14
OSU - 8:58 - Jeff Heuerman 18 pass from Braxton Miller (Basil kick) - 2 plays, 20 yards, 0:45, OSU 21-17
NEB - 6:59 - Taylor Martinez 9 run (Maher kick) - 4 plays, 75 yards, 1:59, NEB 24-21
OSU - 3:11 - Hyde 7 run (Basil kick) - 10 plays, 75 yards, 3:48, OSU 28-24
OSU - 0:23 - Miller 31 run (Basil kick) - 6 plays, 57 yards, 1:04, OSU 35-24
Third Quarter (OSU 49-31)
NEB - 12:50 - Ben Cotton 3 pass from Martinez (Maher kick) - 7 plays, 77 yards, 2:10, OSU 35-31
OSU - 8:15 - Hyde 1 run (Basil kick) - 10 plays, 75 yards, 4:30, OSU 42-31
OSU - 5:50 - Corey Brown 76 punt return (Basil kick) - OSU 49-31
Fourth Quarter (OSU, 63-38)
OSU - 10:27 - Rod Smith 33 run (Basil kick) - 3 plays, 62 yards, 1:44, OSU 56-31
NEB - 5:38 - Martinez 2 run (Maher kick) - 11 plays, 67 yards, 4:40, OSU 56-38
OSU - 0:48 - Hyde 16 run (Basil kick) - 4 plays, 26 yards, 2:14, OSU 63-38
Final: #12 Ohio State 63, #21 Nebraska 38
Time of Game: 3:33
Game Start: 7:13 p.m. (central)