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Ohio State keeps them guessing, and it's all part of the plan

Buckeyes Coach Urban Meyer appears to take page from USC's playbook and shakes things up after two early touchdowns in 40-20 victory over Buffalo. And it works out.

September 01, 2013|By Mike Hiserman

Remember the crazy stuff USC Coach Lane Kiffin and associate head coach John Baxter used to try after Trojans touchdowns?

Unbalanced lines and zany shifts?

It was all done, supposedly, to give future opponents something they had to spend practice time to defend.

Well, maybe Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer was paying attention. (Just go with it.)

After the No 2-ranked Buckeyes scored two early touchdowns in a 40-20 victory over Buffalo, Meyer shook things up. After the first, most of the Ohio State players lined up to the left side of the field with two receivers on the right and the long snapper, holder and kicker in the middle. Kenny Guiton, the holder, took the snap and ran for a two-point conversion.

After the next touchdown, the Buckeyes lined up similarly and Guiton passed left, to Jordan Hall behind a wall of blockers, and Hall scored easily.

There's the difference: Ohio State's plays worked.

Different kind of suspenders

No doubt players from the Southeastern Conference's top programs play some good football. They also keep the lords of discipline busy.

Top-ranked Alabama had two players suspended for its opener against Virginia Tech; No. 5 Georgia was down two for its showdown with No. 8 Clemson, No. 7 Texas A&M was short eight players in the first half against Rice, and No. 10 Florida was short five for its game against Toledo.

For openers

Eleven of the 21 coaches who debuted with new teams in morning and afternoon games Saturday emerged winners, with Brian Polian of Nevada and Sonny Dykes of California guiding their teams in night games.

In all, there are 31 coaches in their first seasons among the nation's 120 major-college football programs. Six others went 3-3 in Thursday and Friday games. Mike McIntyre leads Colorado against Colorado State in Denver on Sunday, and Sean Kugler guides Texas El Paso in its opener against New Mexico on Sept. 7.

Hot and hotter

Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase passed for a career-high 416 yards and two touchdowns as the Fighting Illini held off Southern Illinois, 42-34, at sweltering Champaign, Ill.

Scheelhaase completed 28 of 36 passes, but as hot as he was, the conditions were hotter — 95 degrees at game time with a heat index of 108.

The conditions were too much for Bob Davis, a Big Ten Conference game official who was hospitalized with heat exhaustion. Davis is a linesman. With 756 yards passing between the teams, the back judges got a workout too.

Attention Trojans

Georgia Tech blew out Elon, a lower-level opponent, 70-0 — and it surely could have been worse.

The Yellow Jackets had 13 different players run the ball for a total of 368 yards. The leader was Justin Thomas, a reserve quarterback, who rushed for a modest 53 yards.

Georgia Tech also intercepted three passes, returning them for 173 yards and two touchdowns, and recovered a fumble and blocked a punt in a performance that surely makes USC feel better about its 21-7 loss to the Yellow Jackets in last season's Sun Bowl.

Or not.

Numbers game

Tommy Rees is no doubt proud of his three touchdown passes, including a career-long 66-yard strike, in a 28-6 win over Temple.

Here's the Rees statistic Fighting Irish Coach Brian Kelly is most pleased with: zero interceptions, zero fumbles. Rees, a senior, came into the game with 30 turnovers in his career, despite sitting most of last season behind Everett Golson.

It was also a good day for Kelly, who got his 200th career college coaching win and, Notre Dame announced, a new five-year contract.

Just a second

Officials working in Corvallis, Ore., put an extra second on the clock near the end of the Oregon State-Eastern Washington game. It could have made a big difference.

There's a new rule that a team can't spike the football to stop the clock unless there are three seconds remaining. The extra second left Oregon State with exactly that, allowing quarterback Sean Mannion to spike the ball and bring on Trevor Romaine for a 52-yard field goal try.

Romaine's kick had enough distance, but was wide right, and Eastern Washington held on for a 49-46 win.

mike.hiserman@latimes.com

Twitter: MikeHiserman

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