Braxton Miller watched his former team, the Ohio State Buckeyes, from the sideline at Ohio Stadium on Saturday. He looked like a rock star, mostly because he wore an Iron Maiden T-shirt, an unlikely choice of apparel for the Wayne grad. Iron Maiden, a heavy metal band from England, peaked years before he was born.
Entering this season, the Buckeyes lacked rock stars — like Miller, Eli Apple and Darron Lee, among the other former standouts on the sideline — who made the 2015 team famous. All it took was one game to show the names aren’t as important as the jerseys.
If a 77-10 victory over Bowling Green is any indication, anyone who throws on the scarlet and grey can become a star.
“Careers are made here, and legends are born,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “I tell the players that all the time. Ohio State is different, man. You start making plays, and all of a sudden people know who you are at the national level. Fight to make plays because there’s a guy behind you who is going to try to take your spot.”
Here are seven things to know about the highest-scoring game in Meyer’s career:
1. Record breaker: Quarterback J.T. Barrett tied a school record he shared with Kenny Guiton with six touchdown passes. He added a touchdown run, becoming the first Ohio State player to produce seven touchdowns in one game.
Barrett completed 21 of 31 passes for a career-high 349 yards. He was a big reason the Buckeyes set a school record with 776 yards of total offense. The previous record of 718, set against Mount Union, had stood since 1930.
“He’s a cagey veteran,” Meyer said. “A lot of things (have happened) in his football career already. … I thought J.T. played great.”
2. Bad start: Barrett did all that after throwing an interception on Ohio State’s first drive. Bowling Green linebacker Brandon Harris returned it 63 yards for a touchdown. The Falcons had a short-lived 7-0 lead. Their offense produced only one score — a field goal — in the second quarter.
“The game of football’s crazy,” center Pat Elflein said. “That stuff can happen anytime. You just have to really be ready for it. Sudden changes, you don’t want those.”
3. Big day: Meyer called hybrid back Curtis Samuel the team’s No. 1 playmaker in August. The junior lived up to the hype, catching nine passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns and rushing 13 times for 84 yards and a score.
“We just have a higher standard than last year,” Samuel said. “Coaches keep bringing up players from last year. We don’t want to hear that. We want to hear about us. It’s up to us to step up and for the coaches to bring us up instead of them.”
4. Great debut: Redshirt freshman Mike Weber played in his first college game, starting at running back. He rushed 19 times for 136 yards. He’s the first freshman to gain more than 100 yards since Weber’s predecessor, Ezekiel Elliott, rushed for 162 yards against Florida A&M in 2013.
“Mike did a great job today,” Samuel said. “There were a couple ankle tackles. He’s just warming up right now. Sooner or later, he’s going to break them for touchdowns, and he’s going to have a great year.”
5. Young team: Thirty Buckeyes saw their first action, Meyer said, including a number of true freshmen.
Defensive end Nick Bosa, who wrote on Twitter on Jan. 1 he would finish what his brother Joey started, recorded his first sack in the fourth quarter and did Joe’s famous shrug.
Rodjay Burns returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown.
Demario McCall, one of the many players who saw the field in the second half after the starters left the game, rushed eight times for 54 yards and a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass from redshirt freshman Joe Burrow. The backup quarterback Burrow, in his first college game, completed 6 of 8 passes for 68 yards.
“I’ve done this long enough,” Meyer said. “I can see a talented player when we have one, and we have a bunch of them. But I just wanted to see them perform in the arena. The good thing is — one of the advantages we have over most — for a lot of them, those 30 players, it’s actually the second time they played (at Ohio Stadium) because they played in front of 100,000 fans in the spring game.”
6. Bad news: Defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle suffered a season-ending patellar tendon injury in his knee, Meyer said, and will need surgery.
“That hurt my heart,” safety Damon Webb said. “Tracy was one of the key parts of our defense. To see him go down, it brought the whole team down.”
7. Opposing side: Bowling Green fell to 0-5 all time against Ohio State. In the first four losses, the Falcons were outscored by a total of 77 points. They were outscored by 67 in this game, which was the first for new head coach Mike Jinks.
“It’s hard to take positives out of a butt-whooping like that,” Jinks said. “We’ll go back and evaluate the video, and what I want to see is to make sure that kids keep playing hard because at the end of the day that’s all you can really ask for.”
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