Braxton Miller's quest for the Heisman Trophy just took another step forward.
Ohio State's electric quarterback rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown to help the Buckeyes score a 52-49 win over Indiana on Saturday. OSU moved to 7-0 (3-0 Big Ten) while IU (2-4, 0-3) dropped its fourth straight game.
"That No. 5 (Braxton Miller) has made a lot of good players look bad," Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said. "He's a special player."
Indiana's struggles stopping the run were an issue again, with the Hoosiers allowing both Miller and Carlos Hyde to rush for more than 145 yards each. Hyde ran for a career-high 156 on 22 carries, and Miller added a pair of TD passes. Miller accounted for 360 of Ohio State's 578 yards.
"IU was much improved," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "We are not good in certain areas, and we were exposed."
The Hoosiers trailed for most of the second half, but they never gave up. Indiana answered with big plays every time OSU tried to put IU away.
"I have to get more involved and find out what the issues are," Meyer said about OSU's inability to finish. "I know injuries are an issue. I don't think you can pinpoint one thing now."
Simply competing is a positive for Indiana, especially against an opponent like Ohio State, but the story is getting old for Wilson.
The Hoosiers came out throwing after halftime, completing four passes on a seven-play drive that resulted in a 22-yard field goal from Mitch Ewald. OSU, however, answered quickly. Following IU's kickoff, Miller took off up the middle on a 67-yard TD run to stretch the Buckeyes' lead to 31-17.
Indiana shanked a punt on its next possession, and Ohio State drove to the IU 4-yard line before Greg Heban made a diving interception in the end zone. The Hoosiers made the Buckeyes pay three plays later when Cam Coffman found Shane Wynn for a 76-yard score, once again cutting the margin to seven (31-24).
"That was just a play to perfection," Wynn said. "I caught it in route, thought I was going to get tackled, didn't and I just started running."
Ohio State lit up the scoreboard again on its next possession, putting together an eight-play, 75-yard drive that was helped by a pair of 15-yard penalties on the Hoosiers. Hyde capped off the drive with a 14-yard TD reception to put OSU back up 38-24.
Still, the Hoosiers refused to go away. Tevin Coleman returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards to the OSU 40, and five plays later Ewald booted a 44-yard field goal to slice the Buckeyes' lead to 11.
But the inability to make stops on the ground continued to haunt the Hoosiers. Hyde ran for 47 yards on four carries on Ohio State's next drive, and he cracked the end zone again to stretch Ohio State's advantage to 45-27, all but sealing the OSU win.
Indiana managed to make it close with a pair of late touchdowns to slice an 18-point lead to three, but a final onside kick attempt failed, giving the Buckeyes the win.
OSU headed into the break at halftime up 24-14 despite some inconsistent play, saved only by a special teams play and a picture-perfect touchdown pass in the closing minutes of the half.
Ohio State struck first when Philly Brown scored on a 12-yard run to cap off a nine-play, 75-yard drive. That march was helped by a pair of questionable calls from officials on two third-down plays, one a shaky spot on a completion and another on a late pass interference call.
Indiana struggled to find its rhythm on offense and, two drives later, Ohio State struck again, kicking a 35-yard field goal with 3:06 left in the quarter. Quarterback Braxton Miller used an 18-yard run on third-and-16 to help set up OSU's second score.
The Hoosiers answered with a quick score of their own. Running back Stephen Houston burst through a hole opened by a great block from right guard Dan Feeney to go 59 yards to cut the Buckeyes' lead to three.
Indiana's special teams came up with a huge play late in the first quarter when Isaiah Roundtree blocked an OSU punt. Three plays later, Houston bolted in from seven yards out to give the Hoosiers a 14-10 lead.
Ohio State answered with a big special-teams play of its own when Travis Howard blocked an IU punt and recovered the ball in the end zone to put the Buckeyes ahead.
Following an IU punt, Miller threw a 60-yard TD pass to Devin Smith on third-and-9 and gave OSU the 10-point edge it took into the halftime break.
NOTES: Indiana's punt block in the first quarter was its first since Kevin Bush turned the trick vs. Towson in 2010. ... IU held the ball for just 9:38 of the first half. ... Indiana has beaten Ohio State just twice since the 1950 season. Those wins came in back-to-back years in 1987 and 1988. ... Since 2005, Urban Meyer-coached teams are 17-0 when they block a punt. OSU is 1-0 in that circumstance this season.