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October 13, 2012

Defense bends and breaks but Bucks still win

Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The good news for the Buckeyes (7-0, 3-0) is that they have now surpassed the win total of the 2011 season with 11 and that they won the game but not much else went right as the team have to secure an onsides kick attempt in the final minute to hold on to a 52-49 win in front of a half empty Memorial Stadium against the Hoosiers (2-4, 0-3).

The Hoosiers were able to play right into Ohio State's weak spots and despite losing the time of possession battle by close to 14 minutes, Kevin Wilson's team converted time and time on third down (8/19) and were a perfect 4-4 in the red zone.

"We are not good in certain areas and we were exposed," Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. "Spread offenses right now are really exposing us. We have got to get something fixed." Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller passed for 211 yards on 13/24 passing with two touchdowns and rushed for 149 yards. Junior running back Carlos Hyde rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown of his own as the Buckeyes ran for 353 yards and put up 578 yards of total offense on the night.

But the defense was a different story with starters Etienne Sabino and Nathan Williams not making the trip and a slew of other injuries forcing Meyer's hand to move fullback Zach Boren from offense to linebacker.

There was a fear that the Buckeyes could come out flat after two straight wins against ranked foes including a 63-38 thrashing of Nebraska at Ohio Stadium a week ago. But the Hoosiers reached the 38 point mark late in the third quarter and added to it as mistakes plagued the Buckeyes throughout the night.

Both the Buckeyes and the Hoosiers blocked punts in the game and both led to points. Travis Howard got in on Erich Toth and blocked it into the end zone where Bradley Roby fell on it. That special teams score gave Ohio State a 17-14 lead late in the 2nd quarter and appeared to be the springboard that the Buckeyes were looking for.

Less than three minutes after that Miller found Devin Smith on a 60-yard touchdown strike and that gave Ohio State a ten point lead going into the halftime locker room. Smith had a game high 106 yards and two touchdowns but dropped two other sure touchdowns, scores that would have given the Buckeyes much needed breathing room.

To start the second half the Hoosiers came out and scored points with a Mitch Ewald field goal to cut it back down to a one possession game but the Buckeyes answered quickly. Miller split the defense on a 67-yard, one play drive to put Ohio State up 31-17 and the highly partisan Ohio State crowd erupted, believing that the Bucks had finally shaken off the malaise that has plagued them at times during the entire season.

Nothing would be that easy however for Ohio State and as Ohio State was looking to go up by three scores the Hoosiers picked off a Miller pass in the end zone on a 2nd-and-goal play on the Indiana four yard line (Greg Heban with the pick).

It didn't take Indiana long to capitalize with former Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville Tarblooder Shane Wynn making the Buckeyes pay with a 76 yard touchdown reception from Cameron Coffman to draw within a score, 31-24.

In this match of wills (or lack of defense, depending on how you look at it) the Buckeyes threw the next haymaker as Hyde scored his first career touchdown via pass when Kenny Guiton, not Miller (knocked out for a couple of plays after a late hit out of bounds) hit him on a shovel pass for a 14 yard reception.

The Hoosiers would strike back immediately with another Ewald field goal to keep it close, 38-27 going to the fourth quarter, a quarter that would see 36 points combined by the two teams.

The teams traded 1-yard touchdown runs, Hyde for Ohio State and D'Angelo Roberts for Indiana and would see the two teams sitting at 45-34 after the 10:30 mark of the quarter.

It appeared that Ohio State finally found the 'finishing blow' at the 6:47 mark when Miller hit Smith for his second touchdown, this time for 46 yards and the Buckeyes would be up 52-34 with less than seven minutes to go.

The Hoosiers would still trail by 18 going into their drive that started with 3:58 to go but the Ohio State defense decided to bend and break. The back breaking play was when the Buckeye got hit for a pair of personal fouls on the same play with Johnathan Hankins ripping an opponent's helmet off and Orhian Johnson getting hit with a contact penalty. That led to a 12 yard pass from back-up quarterback Nate Sudfeld to Duwyce Wilson for 12 yards and cut the lead to 52-41.

The Buckeyes prepared for the ensuing onsides kick and the Hoosiers were able to strike as an Indiana defender jumped from the field of play to rescue the ball midair and put it in the hands of a fellow Hoosier.

It only took 35 seconds for the Hoosiers to strike this time as Sudfeld connected on his second TD pass, this time to Stephen Houston from 25 yards out. A two-point try was successful was good and it was suddenly a 52-49 game.

Indiana tried to mix it up on the 2nd onsides try and crossed the field but Corey Brown was able to go back and dive on the ball to end the craziness with 1:05 left and the Buckeyes took the victory formation and escaped with one of the uglier wins in recent memory for the Buckeyes.

"We have got to get back to work," Meyer said. "We go back 7-0 and we have got to find a way to get better as Purdue rolls in next week."

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