COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After stumbling again out of the blocks, Ohio State found its top gear just before halftime.
The stagnant offense sprinted into the locker room with three consecutive touchdowns after a scoreless first quarter.
A defense that again gave up yards in bunches tightened up with its back to the wall and forced a critical turnover.
Urban Meyer would surely prefer his team to flip the switch earlier, but the Buckeyes coach is still taking a 21-12 lead over UAB with him into intermission at Ohio Stadium.
Stat of the half: There was a drop and a couple overthrows early, but Braxton Miller corrected his sloppy start by completing his last six attempts after going 1-for-5 in the first quarter. The sophomore finished the half with 88 yards through the air to go with 45 on the ground with a touchdown.
Player of the half: The biggest hit of the half for Johnathan Hankins won’t show up in his personal statistics, but his demolition of a would-be blocker as he collapsed the pocket and forced an incompletion perfectly summed up his productive work in the first half. In all, the junior defensive tackle had six tackles and chipped in half of a tackle for a loss as his hot streak rolls along up front.
What’s working for Ohio State: After sleepwalking through much of the first half, the running game snapped to life with tough running by Jordan Hall and backup Rod Smith. After the latter punched in a short touchdown, Braxton Miller went to work and turned in yet another highlight-reel scoring rush to get the Buckeyes in control.
The blocking has largely been sound, the ball carriers are making defenders miss and UAB doesn’t appear to have a physical answer for the Ohio State offense when it gets a head of steam.
What’s not working for Ohio State: The extra work on tackling in practice hasn’t quite yielded the results the Buckeyes wanted just yet. UAB slipped through defenders, extended plays in the pocket and was out-gaining Ohio State for much of the first 30 minutes. But the Blazers only had two field goals to show for it on offense, continuing Ohio State’s bend-don’t-break tendency early in the season. The Buckeyes did deliver a critical turnover with a fumble recovery just before halftime that led to a score, but they'll need more plays like it moving forward.