COLUMBUS - Those expecting another Buckeye blowout of an inferior MAC opponent had to consider this a bummer. Just don't include Ohio State offensive guard Jack Mewhort among the cynics.
"All I know is, I'm super relieved," said Mewhort, a Toledo native obviously familiar with his hometown Rockets. "I knew how capable that team was. I said coming in we'd take a win anyway we could get it."
For sure, there would be no third quarter mass bailout of the Horseshoe which had occurred one week earlier in a 42-0 whitewash of Akron.
Ohio State's Carlos Hyde, left, celebrates with teammate Adam Homan after scoring a touchdown against Toledo during the third quarter Saturday in Columbus.
Instead, virtually all 105,016 were on their feet in the final seconds with Toledo on the verge of pulling off another historic road conquest of a Big Ten foe.
The Rockets had recently (2009) raided the Big House in Ann Arbor and plastered Purdue (2010) at West Lafayette. Perhaps, a trifecta performance wouldn't have rated shock treatment status- particularly with OSU playing at less than full strength.
"We didn't come down here to finish second," insisted UT head coach Tim Beckman. "I told our guys to (be there) in the fourth quarter, then see what happens."
After recovering a Rod Smith fumble with 3:08 remaining, Toledo was suddenly feeling it, working the clock and driving 50 yards inside the Buckeyes' red zone.
With under a minute to play on a do-or-die fourth and five play from OSU's 16, Buckeye tackle John Simon threw aside a UT blocker then lined up sophomore quarterback Terrance Owens.
"Out of the corner of my eye, I saw (tight end) Danny Noble open," Owens would relay afterward. "I just didn't have enough time to get off an accurate pass."
All thanks to Simon whose man-possessed charge forced Owens into a hurried attempt to crossing wideout Kenny Stafford. "I was able to put a move on a guy and get enough pressure on (Owens)," Simon offered. "I think all of us took a deep breath after that play was over."
Thus, the Silver Bullets had fortunately dodged one of their own. "What is it? We came up 16 yards short," Beckman described. "It's (loss) not acceptable but I think we made out presence felt."
Luke Fickell's Buckeyes played with fire all afternoon. Though outgained (338-301), they made just enough right moves to make it a 2-0 start.
"We left some plays out there," I'm sure," Fickell remarked. "We outrushed them (112-46). Still, we have to run the ball better and we will."
Carlos Hyde's two-yard blast late in the third quarter actually concluded the game's scoring. OSU's defense took over at that point and controlled the tempo prior to Smith's late fumble.
Beckman, who used a two-QB rotation, had apparently settled in with junior Austin Dantin before sending out Owens for the final drive.
"No big deal. It was his (Owens) turn," Beckman advised. "We feel with have two winning quarterbacks we can score points with. It's all about the team."
The same philosophy had held court for OSU a week earlier with Fickell opting to start veteran Joe Bauserman before bringing on true freshman Braxton Miller.
Bauserman went the route Saturday, apparently by design. "We have two quarterbacks who can do the job," Fickell stated. "I have confidence in both of them."
Bauserman started strong, threading the needle on a 26-yard scoring strike to tight end Jake Stoneburner, the fourth such connection between the two.
The Bucks' career backup earned mixed reviews, at times hearing it from the Nation following various mid-timed patterns.
"I had a few throwaways but no turnovers. That's the most important thing to me," Bauserman said. "Did the boos bother me? Not at all. You can't worry about that stuff."
Next up is a week three visit to south Florida and a Saturday night prime time kickoff against Miami's Hurricanes.
"Our plan is to be a better football team than the week before," Mewhort observed. "No one should take it personally we couldn't put (Toledo) away. They came in here hungry that's what we expected. A win's a win and you move on."
BAUSERMAN finished 16-of-30 for 189 yards, including a 36-yard strike to freshman Devin Smith. Eight different Buckeyes landed receptions....
Dantin and Owens combined for 292 aerial stripes with Owens producing a 66-yard TD strike to Toledo's all-MAC wideout Eric Page.
"He's (Page) a special player but it takes 11 to win," said Beckman. Page, also a Toledo native, burned the Bucks with 12 catches for 145 yards. Including kick returns, Page compiled 214 all-purpose yards....
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