COLUMBUS, Ohio - Football is finally back on the Ohio State campus and the fans could not be any happier that the offseason of discontent has passed (for now) and actual game action is taking place. Joe Bauserman silenced many doubters leading the Buckeyes on four touchdown drives as he went 12-16 and Jake Stoneburner set a school record being the first tight end to score three touchdowns as the Buckeyes rolled the zips, 42-0.
The Buckeye defense did not show any ill-effects of losing several starters either to graduation or suspension and they held the Zips to 90 total yards and racked up five sacks and ten tackles for loss.
Ohio State's offense stalled in the first half on several occasions including a fumble inside the five by freshman Rod Smith but that changed in the second half when he scored his first Buckeye touchdown of his career.
Overall, the feelings were positive coming out of the Ohio State locker room and the players were just happy to play some ball.
"I tried to lead the best that I could," quarterback Joe Bauserman said. "It's something that I've always dreamed about. It felt good but now I'll watch film and critique it and move on."
This week there was yet more controversy around the team as three additional Buckeyes were suspended including starting corner Travis Howard. Dominic Clarke lost out in a close battle with Bradley Roby to start but the absence of Howard gave Clarke an opportunity to start and he made the most of it.
"When the news broke about the suspension, I knew I was going to start because of the way the depth chart was set up. I was sad for Travis, but I quickly realized it was a great opportunity for me to show what I can do."
And that was a great outing with four tackles, two pass breakups and an assist on a Andrew Sweat interception where he batted the ball to the Ohio State linebacker. Sweat is one of the 'old men' on the team and believed that head coach Luke Fickell was not any different changing hats from co-defensive coordinator to head coach.
"Coach Fickell was the same to me," Sweat said. "He is a great overall leader. I think he parlayed his coaching into the offensive side of the ball like he had the defensive side."
The Buckeyes were able to rotated 12 true freshmen in during the game and by the fourth quarter had a lot of new players in to gain valuable live reps. The wide receiver tandem of Devin Smith and Evan Spencer saw action. Smith hit pay dirt in the fourth quarter with a TD reception from Miller from 14 yards out.
"I didn't think he would throw it to me, but (after the play) my emotions were very high," Smith said. "As soon as I scored I looked to my mom, I know she was proud of me."
The heat played another factor in the game with several band members needing medical attention due to the sweltering temperatures and referee Dennis Lipski had to be replaced in the first quarter due to dehydration.
Fickell joked about his game time attire and the fact that it was black and long sleeved. The players however didn't notice and while it was a hot game didn't let on that the heat took anything out of them.
"I didn't know coach Fickell wore two shirts until you mentioned it," Clarke said. "Maybe he's trying to get in better shape."
Fickell's debut marks the debut of 21 head coaches in Ohio State's history and the record of those coaches? They have gone 20-0-1 in their first games. The only loss was by Jack Ryder who fell 40-4 to Oberlin in 1892.
Now the Buckeyes must get ready for a much tougher challenge with Toledo. The Rockets have former Ohio State assistant Tim Beckman at the helm and are fresh off of a thrashing of New Hampshire in their open.