Senior running back Jordan Hall rushed for 159 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns as No. 2 Ohio State defeated Buffalo, 40-20, in front of 103,980 fans at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Saturday afternoon.
The Buckeyes scored 23-straight points in the opening period and it appeared that the rout was on, but were outscored by Buffalo 20-17 in the final three quarters.
In the first 15 minutes, Devin Smith scored on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Braxton Miller, who then connected on a 7-yard scoring strike to Chris Fields three-plus minutes later, and Jordan Hall added a 49-yard TD run with 38 seconds left.
Ohio State also went for two twice, converting both attempts.
But it was a tale of two quarters.
After leading 23-0 at the end of the first quarter, the Bulls rattled off 13 unanswered points as Matt Weiser scored on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Joe Licata, and Khalil Mack returned an intercepted pass from Miller 49 yards for another score to cut into Ohio State’s lead at 23-13 with 7:10 to go in the second period.
The Buckeyes padded their cushion on a 37-yard TD run from Hall with 6:53 remaining to go up 30-13.
As for the first half statistics, Ohio State outgained Buffalo, 310-125. The Buckeyes got 172 yards through the air and another 138 on the ground. The Bulls had 30 yards rushing and 95 yards passing. OSU also held a 13-10 advantage in first downs, though UB led in time of possession 15:32-14:28. Miller was 13-of-18 passing for 172 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Jordan Hall had 126 yards rushing on 12 attempts and two TDs. Six different Buckeyes have two receptions each.
Late in the third quarter, Buffalo closed the gap after Licata connected with Alex Neutz on a 10-yard touchdown pass to make it 30-20 with 2:37 left in the frame.
Ohio State stretched its lead to 37-20 with 3:16 left in the third when backup quarterback Kenny Guiton, filling in for Miller who was battling cramps, tossed a 21-yard TD pass to a wide-open Chris Fields.
With the defense battling all day due to suspensions before the game and injuries during, mostly from cramps due to the high heat and humidity, the Buckeye unit finally buckled down. Facing a fourth-and-goal at the Ohio State one yard line with just over 12 minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, Licata bobbled the snap and lost a yard on the play recovering the loose ball.
Ohio State finished the scoring when Drew Basil connected on a 39-yard field goal with 7:05 left in the final frame to make it 40-20 in favor of OSU.
In the final stat count, the Buckeyes led in total offense (460-258), rushing yards (261-73), passing yards (199-185), first downs (23-18), and time of possession (32:04-27:33). Miller was 15-of-22 passing for 178 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Miller also rushed for 77 yards on 17 carries. Guiton completed his lone passing attempt for a score. Three different Buckeyes had three receptions each, led by Smith’s 61 yards receiving.
Up next, Ohio State hosts San Diego State next Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET, and it will be televised on your local ABC affiliate.