Ohio State Football 2011
Buckeyes Zip Past Akron in Season Opener
Amidst all the turmoil surrounding the Ohio State football program this off-season, Buckeye nation could not wait for the team to get back onto the field playing again.
On Saturday, the Buckeyes finally took to the field and proceeded to take it to the visiting Akron Zips, beating their interstate counterparts in a decisive 42-0 victory in Columbus.
Despite missing eight key players to suspension for breaking NCAA rules, the 18th ranked Buckeyes had more than enough fire power.
Joe Bauserman, a quarterback starting his first game in eight years, ran for a touchdown and threw for three to tight end Jake Stoneburner.
Bauserman, who last started when he was a senior in high school, ran for a 15-yard score and threw touchdown passes of 28, 11 and two yards to Stoneburner. Overall on the day, Bauserman, who spent the last two years on the sidelines watching Terrelle Pryor play, completed 12 of 16 passes for 163 yards and the three scores with no interceptions.
In the process, Stoneburner became the first Ohio State tight end to catch three scoring passes in a single game.
While the offense was hitting on all cylinders, the Buckeye defense behind 1st year head coach Luke Fickell, looked like the same unit which dominated the Big Ten for the past 11 years under former head coach Jim Tressel.
Led by linebacker Andrew Sweat, who had an interception, the Bucks defense suffocated the Zips offense and set the physical tone of the game.
"Although we don't have some big names like in the past, we have a lot of young guys who are fully capable of getting the job done," said Sweat, who also had two tackles for minus yardage and forced a fumble. "We had a competitive camp at each position and we were ready to play today."
Akron's offense managed just 90 total yards. The Zips, 1-11 a year ago, came closest to scoring when a 41-yard field goal just before the half went wide.
Following the game, Fickell was pleased and proud of his team for their performance despite all the distractions and suspensions.
"That's the thing that I might be most excited about and this team might be most excited about, is that they didn't whine about it, they didn't bat their eyes about it," Fickell said. "They just said, 'Next man up.' That's the amazing thing."
Some of those players who "manned up" were first-year players. Heralded freshman quarterback Braxton Miller tossed a TD pass to another true freshman, Devin Smith, and classmate Rod Smith ran for a score and looked strong running the ball.
The Buckeyes took control early.
Bauserman completed passes for nine and 28 yards on the opening drive, capped by misplay by the Zips defense. Bauserman turned to hand off the ball to a back but there was no one there. He sidestepped a defender and weaved through several more potential tacklers on his way to a 15-yard touchdown run.
The Buckeyes led 21-0 at the half after Bauserman hit a wide-open Stoneburner twice on scoring passes, the second after Sweat picked off a pass that was tipped by teammate Dominic Clarke.
In the second half, OSU doubled their first half total and tacked on another 21 points to cruise to their opening game victory.
Ohio State will look to improve to 2-0, hosting their second straight MAC team next Saturday as the Toledo Rockets visit the Horseshoe.
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