Braxton Miller had all the offensive answers for No. 8 Ohio State on Saturday night.
He ran for a 67-yard touchdown. He threw TD passes of 60 and 46 yards. He set up two Carlos Hyde touchdowns and threw a 46-yard TD pass that appeared to put the game out of reach, and Corey Brown recovered an onside kick to finally help the Buckeyes escape with a 52-49 victory at Indiana.
By Miller’s standards, it was just another game.
He finished 13 of 24 for 211 yards with two TDs and one interception, ran 23 times for 149 yards — his third straight 100-yard game. The Buckeyes (7-0, 2-0 Big Ten) are the first ranked team with seven wins.
And Ohio State needed every bit of Miller’s help on a wild night when the teams continually traded big play after big play and the Hoosiers (2-4, 0-3) rallied for 15 points in a 35-second span late in the fourth quarter.
Each team turned blocked punts into touchdowns in the first half.
Indiana scored on TD passes of 76 and 25 yards, a 59-yard TD run and made a field goal after a 60-yard kickoff return, producing its highest point total ever against the Buckeyes. The previous record was 41 in 1988, the Hoosiers last win over Ohio State.
But it wasn’t quite enough against Miller and the Buckeyes, who finished with 353 yards rushing and held the ball for nearly 37 minutes.
Miller had some help. Hyde ran 22 times for 156 yards and a touchdown and caught a 14-yard shovel pass for a TD from Kenny Guiton when Miller left briefly after a late-hit penalty. Devin Smith caught two passes for 106 yards — both for touchdowns.
Bradley Roby recovered the Hoosiers’ blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown.
It was that kind of night.
The Hoosiers have now lost 11 straight league games, 21 consecutive Big Ten games against foes from outside the state and 18 straight to the Buckeyes, including a loss from two years ago that Ohio State later vacated as the result of NCAA infractions.
Yet, Indiana hung around all night and nearly pulled off a miracle comeback.
The Hoosiers took a 14-10 lead in the second quarter when Stephen Houston scored on a 7-yard run following the blocked punt. Houston ran 11 times for 91 yards and two scores.
But the Buckeyes responded with two TDs before halftime to make it 24-14.
The Hoosiers got as close as 24-17 early in the second quarter — before Miller took over.
He kept the ball on the Buckeyes’ next offensive play, found a seam, split the Hoosiers safeties and sprinted 67 yards to make it 31-17.
When Indiana cut the lead to 31-24, Miller led the Buckeyes on a 75-yard drive, giving way to Guiton for two plays and he threw the TD pass to Hyde. Miller drove the Buckeyes 78 yards later, too, setting up Hyde for a 1-yard run to make it 45-27 early in the fourth quarter and finally put the game away with the 46-yard TD pass to Smith with 6:47 left.
Indiana closed it out with a 1-yard TD run from D’Angelo Roberts, then got a 12-yard pass from Nate Sudfeld to Duwyce Wilson with 1:40 left, a 25-yard TD pass from Sudfeld to Houston and a 2-point conversion run by Cody Latimer with 1:05 to go, and had a chance to recover a second straight onside kick before Brown finally landed on the bouncing ball.
Sudfeld was 6 of 10 for 77 yards and two TDs.