Miller shows his acrobatic skills

AIRBORNE and acrobatic might be the best way to describe the antics of Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller Saturday as the Buckeyes downed the Indiana Hoosiers, 42-14.

The cold wind in the Horseshoe didn’t stop Miller as he dived into the end zone with special antics to rack up more points on the scoreboard.

Commenting on his two flips after the game Saturday, Miller said he was “just having a little bit of fun. … today, if you notice, I didn’t have my knee brace on. I wanted to have a little bit of fun with it.”

It was the first time that he had played without a brace since he sprained his MCL in the second week of the season.

One observer said Miller’s first TD dive was reminiscent of those by Santonio Holmes, a Buckeye player from 2003-05 and now wide receiver for the New York Jets.

Miller led Huber Heights’ Wayne High School to the 2010 Division I state title game, and he said Saturday was colder than when his high school team played the title game in the snow. “Today it was really cold. One of the coldest games I played in,” he added.

OSU junior wide receiver Devin Smith also mentioned the snowy weather. “When we first got out on the field, it reminded me of playing That Team Up North last year,” Smith said. “I got really cold towards the end of the game, but during the game I didn’t really notice it because of the atmosphere in the ‘Shoe.”

The weather affected the game to some degree, but it had more effect on the 104,990 fans with empty seats at halftime proving the cold was just too much for many.

Snow flurries were intermittent but snow was evident on band members’ hats during the pregame show. The sun shone more in the second quarter, but the snow combined with the wind in the later part of the game made even walking difficult so it must have been rough for the players.

OSU head football coach Urban Meyer said the weather had an effect offensively.

Miller concentrated more on the ground game rather than throwing the ball as much, and he said part of that was the weather and part was due to the game plan.

Meyer was asked when was the last time that he coached in the snow and whether he’d like to see some of the southern teams play in weather like that encountered Saturday.

The coach said the last time one of his teams played in the snow was when “we won 3-0 in Provo, Utah one year – 3-0, that’s how bad it was. I thought it was kind of cool to hear ‘Hang on Sloopy’ in the snow. Brought back some good memories. Do we want a southern team up here in December- you’re trying, I’m not going to answer that because we’ve got a big rivalry game next week” with reference to the Michigan.

Despite weather conditions, the Buckeyes set a school record with a 23-game winning streak, and the team also will have a spot in the Big Ten championship game.

And there were some outstanding plays such as Carlos Hyde, rushing for 177 yards Saturday, becoming the first OSU running back to rush for 1,000 yards since Beanie Wells in 2008.

A week after totaling a career-high 16 tackles, linebacker Ryan Shazier set a career best with 20 tackles including 10 solo stops. The last Buckeye who had 20 tackles in a game was A.J. Hawk in the 2004 game with Wisconsin.

Junior cornerback Bradley Roby had a career-high 10 tackles against Indiana, surpassing the nine he had twice previously.

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WHEN going up to the postgame press conference in the elevator, I met Scott Strager, son of the late George Strager, who had a legendary 19-year run as St. Clairsville coach in addition to coaching at four other schools. An OSU graduate, Scott now lives in Reynoldsburg. His father, who is in the OVAC Hall of Fame, often has been called the “dean of Ohio Valley high school football coaches.”

SATURDAY’S game was emotional for 18 seniors who were playing their last game in the ‘Shoe. Meyer indicated it was reminiscent of 1986 when he was a Buckeye graduate assistant and it was his “first experience with a place like Ohio State. … I would see Jim Lachey and Archie Griffin and all those great players come back and be a part of this program. And I would notice that the ones that were part of something special were always back.”

He went on to say those players in the locker room will be coming back, “because there’s going to be a special place for them around that facility and what they’ve done, longest winning streak in Ohio State history.” Noting the former players such as the 1968 champions and other Big Ten championship teams “come back and celebrate with their families,” Meyer said, “I think it’s one of the greatest things that can happen to a college football player.”

The seniors were honored along with their families in pregame festivities. As the team and coach sang “Carmen Ohio” at the end of the game, a tradition began by former head coach Jim Tressel, safety C.J. Barnett was overheard to say, “It’s the last time … it’s the last time.”

Pokas can be reached at bettypokas@yahoo.com.