COLUMBUS: Ohio State survived an enormous scare when Toledo’s final drive stalled on the Buckeyes’ 16 yard line, allowing them to escape with a 27-22 victory on Saturday.
The Buckeyes haven’t lost to an in-state opponent in 90 years. That streak was in real jeopardy until the game’s final minute, when John Simon pressured Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens into an overthrow on fourth down, preserving the victory.
It was another turbulent weekend for the Buckeyes, who just found out Friday night they’d again be without Jordan Hall, Travis Howard and Corey Brown while the NCAA sorts through their violations.
Couple that with the first-half injury to receiver Corey “Philly” Brown, the special teams breakdowns and a critical fourth-quarter fumble by freshman Rod Smith and the Buckeyes were on the brink of disaster.
“Going through adversity, we’re not going to break,” center Michael Brewster said. “We might bend a little, but at the end of the day we’re not going to break.”
Carlos Hyde’s 3-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter proved to be the difference. The Buckeyes entered as 18-point favorites, but needed Chris Fields’ 69-yard punt return for a touchdown and 14 crucial Toledo penalties to survive.
Joe Bauserman played the whole game at quarterback, completing 16 of 30 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. Backup Braxton Miller was expected to play, and coach Luke Fickell said he entered the game intending to play Miller in the second quarter, but plans changed.
Fickell wouldn’t elaborate on why he didn’t go to the freshman, but it seemed to anger the 105,016 in attendance. The boos directed at Bauserman seemed to intensify with every incompletion and every pass thrown away.
“They’ll do what they’re going to do,” Bauserman said. “I’m going to throw the ball away when I have to.”
Both teams had major issues on special teams. The Buckeyes allowed a blocked punt, which led to Toledo’s first score, while the Rockets had three formation penalties on punts, which directly led to 14 points for the Buckeyes.
Carlos Hyde had 76yards and two touchdowns and Jake Stoneburner had a touchdown catch in the first quarter, his fourth of the season.
The ending didn’t have to be so dramatic, but Smith fumbled on Toledo’s 28-yard line with 3:08 left, giving the Rockets one final chance at the upset. They converted a long fourth-and-14 with a 19-yard completion to Eric Page to keep the drive alive, but Simon finally ended things by pressuring Owens.
Page had 12 catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns for the Rockets.