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FINAL: Ohio State Holds On To Beat Toledo 27-22

The Buckeyes look to continue their domination against MAC schools when Toledo visits the Horseshoe

Facing their second straight Mid-American Conference opponent from the state of Ohio, the 15th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes entertain the Toledo Rockets this Saturday at the Horseshoe in Columbus.

Both teams are 1-0 to start the 2011 season, with Toledo dispensing with FCS foe New Hampshire (58-22) last weekend, and Ohio State blanking Akron (42-0).

Despite residing in the same state, this is just the third meeting between these two schools on the gridiron, and not surprisingly, Ohio State won both previous matchups. In fact, Toledo has yet to score a point against the Buckeyes, falling 49-0 in the first bout back in 1989 in Columbus, and 38-0 in Cleveland in 2009.

The Rockets are coached by Todd Beckman, who served as an assistant at Ohio State from 2005-06. Toledo, which owns a 6-14 mark all-time against Big Ten Conference foes, is taking on a ranked opponent for the 15th time in its history, and owns a 6-8 mark in previous encounters. However, the Rockets are just 1-7 on a ranked team's home field.

With the whitewashing of Akron in the opener, Luke Fickell became the first Ohio State head coach to record a shutout in his head coaching debut since Woody Hayes in 1951. OSU, which is a stellar 53-5 at Ohio Stadium since the start of the 2002 season, is a perfect 17-0 against teams from the MAC, and the last team from the state of Ohio to knock off the Buckeyes was Oberlin way back in 1921.

Ohio State has won 55 consecutive regular-season, non-conference home games against teams not ranked in the AP Top-25.

The Rockets exploded for 591 yards of total offense in a rather easy victory over New Hampshire to open the season. They used a bruising rushing attack to amass 287 yards, with RB Adonis Thomas doing the bulk of the damage with his 115 yards and one TD on only nine carries. The two-QB system utilized by Toledo worked efficiently, as both Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens performed well, the former finishing with 161 yards and three scores, and the latter 122 yards and two TDs. WR Bernard Reedy was credited with five catches for 113 yards and two scores.

The Rockets will need similar production this week, although generating that kind of offense against a staunch Ohio State defense won't be easy. Coach Beckman knows his team will have to play near-flawless football to have any chance whatsoever.

"We're going down there and taking care of what we can take care of. This is a very good Ohio State team. They are extremely athletic and very well coached. Yes, it will be a challenge, but one that you build your program for and try to play better than the last time we played them."

The UT defense set the tone early in last week's opener, forcing three first- half turnovers, all of which led to touchdowns. LB Robert Bell had a solid outing, logging seven tackles, forcing a pair of fumbles and recovering one of them. In all, New Hampshire gained 332 total yards (152 rushing, 180 passing) and was guilty of five turnovers on the day.

Ohio State, which began the season with a number of players serving suspensions for past indiscretions, got a nice effort from QB Joe Bauserman, who was making the first start of his career. Bauserman completed 12-of-16 passes for 163 yards and three TDs, all of which wound up in the hands of Jake Stoneburner, who set a new modern day OSU record for scoring catches made by a tight end in a single game. RB Carlos Hyde led all ground gainers in the contest with 93 yards on 19 carries, and Bauserman even got in on the act, scoring on a 15-yard run in the first quarter. Both Bauserman and back-up Braxton Miller should see time again this week, as they did in week one when Bauserman played most of the first half, and Miller much of the second.

The OSU defense allowed just five first downs and 90 total yards to the Zips (35 rushing, 55 passing), and the shutout was just the second to open a season by the Buckeyes since 1977. Andrew Sweat led the team with six tackles, two of which were behind the line of scrimmage, and he also came up with an INT. The defense was credited with 10 TFL, including five sacks.

The Buckeyes are expected to have starting RB Jordan Hall, starting CB Travis Howard and reserve defensive lineman Corey Brown back from suspension. Jordan Whiting, who had been suspended late last year, will be available against the Rockets as well.

Despite the distractions coming into the campaign, Fickell appeared to have his team prepared for the battles ahead.

"These guys have done a great job. Even with everything that's been outside and out and around us, they've done a really good job of focusing," He continued, "We know what our expectations are. We're not going to be satisfied. That's the biggest thing. But we are definitely excited about having a great day out there and looking forward to getting better."

Toledo should present a bigger challenge than did Akron, but in the end the Buckeyes are simply bigger, stronger, faster and better. Add the decided home field advantage and Ohio State is the clear choice. 

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.