COLUMBUS — A new era of football happened Saturday at Ohio Stadium as The Ohio State University played its first game with Luke Fickell as its head coach.
But the results weren’t new for the Buckeyes in a 42-0 rout of the University of Akron.
The last 22 OSU coaches are 21-0-1 in their home debuts. The Buckeyes also improved to 31-2 in their last 33 home openers.
Quite simply, OSU dominated on the line of scrimmage, outgaining the Zips 517-90 on a a very hot day. Fickell had the chance to see a lot of players, including some true freshman.
There were new faces on both sides of the ball for OSU, but that did little to affect the team.
Let’s remember, however, this the win was against Akron — a team that won just one game a year ago and is still building.
With the lopsided score, there were more positives than negatives:
1. In his first collegiate start, senior quarterback Joe Bauserman did to suggest he hand over the reigns to highly-touted freshman Braxton Miller.
The passing game was controlled, but Bauserman went 12-of-16 with 163 yards and three touchdowns. The most important stat may be no interceptions.
Bauserman even ran a 15-yard touchdown on what appeared to be a broken play. Now, he won’t conjure up images of former QB Terrelle Pryor with his running ability, but Bauserman got the job done.
Miller did play and struggled early. But he went 8-of-12 for 130 yards. He hit classmate Devin Smith for a 14-yard scoring strike and found another true freshman Evan Spencer for a 33-yard play. Spencer made a spectacular one-handed catch.
2. Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith shared the running back chores. Both are big backs that ran hard. Hyde picked up 93 yards and Smith 74. They also ran behind an offensive line with three new staters (both guards and left tackle).
3. With the receiver situation still being resolved, tight end Jake Stoneburner may become the go-to guy in the early going. His three touchdown receptions marked the fist time in program history an OSU tight end caught three TDs in a game.
4. The defense swarmed to the ball. Linebacker Andrew Sweat stood out with six tackles, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and interception. The pick led to a touchdown and gave OSU a 21-0 lead towards the end of the first half.
5. Smith fumbled at the Akron 4 in the first quarter. That will be frowned upon by the coaching staff.
6. Kicker Drew Basil missed two field goals on one possession. He was wide left from 45 yards in the second quarter, but Akron was called for a 5-yard penalty. The second attempt from 40 yards out went to the right.