September 08, 2015

Ohio State looked every bit like the favorite to win a second straight national title after a road win over a power conference foe.

The home opener against a lesser mid-major opponent could be downright merciless.

Top-ranked Ohio State seeks a 15th consecutive victory Saturday against Hawaii in the schools' first meeting.

The Buckeyes remained a unanimous No. 1 and opened as a 38-point favorite in this contest after Monday's 42-24 win at Virginia Tech. Avenging last season's lone loss, Ohio State amassed 572 yards of total offense to the Hokies' 320 despite a nearly six-minute difference in time of possession.

Braxton Miller's switch to wide receiver may have been one of the best things to happen to the Buckeyes. He found the end zone twice in spectacular fashion, once on a 54-yard catch and another on a 53-yard run. Both scores came in the second half as Ohio State claimed a 28-7 advantage to pull away.

The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013 as a quarterback, Miller chose to make the change after missing 2014 with a shoulder injury as quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones led Ohio State to the national championship. Miller now has 86 career TDs.

"When you have selflessness, you make a lot of decisions as you have to and he did it for the best interest of his team and when I think about that it makes you feel good," coach Urban Meyer said. "I love that kid, man."

The competition for the starting quarterback job extended until the first series when Meyer finally gave the nod to Jones. He was 9 of 18 for 186 yards and two TDs with one interception, also running for 99 yards and a score on 13 carries.

Barrett threw a 26-yard touchdown pass on his only attempt with 8:14 left and also reeled off a 40-yard run.

Jones may not be a guarantee to get the starting nod again Saturday.

"We're going to ride my opinion in that moment," Meyer said. "In that situation to drive the ball down the field to score, who should be in the game? J.T. has to stay warm. If J.T.'s in the game, Cardale has to stay warm. Is that the right thing to do? At this point it is. Will that change and adapt throughout the year? I don't know. Remains to be seen."

Ohio State has thrown for at least one touchdown in 25 straight contests, tying the school record from 1994-96.

The Buckeyes clamped down defensively in the second half, yielding only 109 yards - and that was without All-American defensive end Joey Bosa. Bosa, who tallied 13 1/2 sacks last year, was one of four players suspended for the opener due to what Meyer called a violation of team policy.

H-backs Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson, who combined for 59 receptions for 799 yards and 12 TDs last season, will also be available after serving suspensions.

Picked to finish fifth in the Mountain West's West Division, Hawaii likely won't provide much of a test, though the Rainbow Warriors come off a 28-20 home victory over Colorado.

Max Wittek was 19 of 38 for 202 yards with three TDs after sitting out 2014 following his transfer from USC. He was picked off twice in the first half.

"I just told him to stick with it when things weren't going well," coach Norm Chow said. "You see he's got a terrific arm and I just told him to just take what they could give us. He wanted to make a big play, but it was his leadership and skills that kept us in it."

Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott could be in for a bigger role after making the most of his 11 carries against Virginia Tech, recording 122 yards, including an 80-yard TD. Hawaii surrendered 215 rushing yards last week.

The Rainbow Warriors are 1-18 in their last 19 road contests and have dropped seven straight meetings with Top 10 teams since a 72-45 win over No. 9 BYU in 2001.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)