COLUMBUS, Ohio — Devin Smith made the catch of his life to finally light the fuse for Urban Meyer's shiny new offense.
Then Braxton Miller took over, rushing for 161 yards — a school record for a quarterback — and a touchdown and throwing two touchdowns in a 56-10 victory over Miami (Ohio) in the former Florida coach's debut.
Down 3-0 after gaining 48 yards and punting four times in the first quarter, Smith leaped and twisted for a one-handed grab and 23-yard score.
"It looked like it was going out of bounds," Smith said. "I just stuck my hand up there and caught it."
The score jump-started the Buckeyes. In the second quarter, they gained 297 yards.
"That was a moment that ignited the stadium," Meyer said. "The stadium got quiet. Our sideline got quiet. We were waiting for a play to happen."
Miller, who surpassed the 146 rushing yards of Cornelius Greene against Wisconsin in 1974, scored on a 65-yard score 17 seconds into the second half.
"(Braxton Miller) … went from an athlete playing quarterback to a quarterback who manages (the game)," Meyer said. He has to be a leader, and he showed that."
Meyer won two national titles at Florida before stepping down after the 2010 season, citing health and family considerations. He takes over a program that went 6-7 last season and is on probation for violations committed under ex-coach Jim Tressel.
Meyer said he hoped for the best. It just took a little longer than he might have expected.
"I just wanted it to be a good day for Ohio State football," he said. "And I believe it was."
Wisconsin barely avoids major upset
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin nearly blew a 26-7 fourth-quarter lead before beating Division I-AA Northern Iowa 26-21.
Wisconsin didn't allow Northern Iowa to cross midfield until 4:27 left in the third. But Sawyer Kollmorgen threw touchdown passes of 55 and 31 yards to David Johnson. And the Panthers faced fourth and 1 at the Badgers 41 before Ethan Hemer tipped a pass to seal the victory.
"You've got to touch a hot stove once," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said. "Once you get burned, you're not going to do it again. And hopefully, our guys learn … you've got to put people away when we can."
No. 1 USC 49, Hawaii 10: Marqise Lee caught a 75-yard touchdown on the first play and returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score for the host Trojans. Matt Barkley threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns. Lee turned a 5-yard catch into Barkley's first.
No. 11 W. Va. 69, Marshall 34: Geno Smith was 32-of-36 for 323 yards and four touchdowns before sitting out most of the fourth quarter for the host Mountaineers. Smith surpassed Marc Bulger's school record of 630 completions, set from 1996-99, and now sits at 651.
No. 15 Texas 37, Wyoming 17: Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown each rushed for more than 100 yards and combined for three touchdowns for the host Longhorns. Bergeron had 110 and scored Texas' first touchdown, a 1-yarder in the first quarter. He sealed it with a 17-yarder in the fourth. Brown had 105 yards.
No. 17 Nebraska 49, S. Miss 20: Taylor Martinez, the first quarterback to start three consecutive openers for the host Cornhuskers, threw for a career-high 354 yards and tied a career high with five touchdown passes. The junior hit Steven Osborne for a 29-yarder with 1:03 left in the first half to make it 28-17 and Kyler Reed for an 18-yarder in the third to make it 35-17.
No. 19 Oklahoma St. 84, Savannah St. 0: Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland ran for three touchdowns each for the host Cowboys against the I-AA team that takes on Florida State next week. The defending Big 12 champions drove for touchdowns on their first five possessions to take a 35-0 lead late in the first quarter then used the rest of the game as a scrimmage to get playing time for their reserves.
No. 22 Kansas St. 51, Missouri St. 9: Tied at 9 early in the second half, the host Wildcats erupted, scoring 35 in the fourth. John Hubert's 95-yard touchdown run in the fourth made it 30-9 and was one yard shy of the school record.
Around the nation
Notre Dame 50, Navy 10: Theo Riddick and George Atkinson, replacing Cierre Wood (suspended for an undisclosed violation) each ran for two touchdowns for the Irish in Dublin, Ireland. Riddick and Atkinson scored on runs of 11 and 56 yards, respectively, on Notre Dame's first two series.
Indiana 24, Indiana St. 17: Tre Roberson threw for a career-high 280 yards and one touchdown and ran for a touchdown as the host Hoosiers ended a seven-game skid.
Iowa 18, N. Illinois 17: Damon Bullock's 23-yard touchdown run with 2:15 left lifted the Hawkeyes in Chicago.
Illinois 24, West. Mich. 7: Ashante Williams returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown with 9:06 left that sealed it for the host Illini.
Nevada 31, Cal 24: Stefphon Jefferson's third touchdown of the day, with 36 seconds left, spoiled Cal's first game at its renovated Memorial Stadium. The Bears hadn't played an on-campus home game in 21 months.
Colo. St. 22, Colo. 17: Jim McElwain, Alabama's former offensive coordinator, became the first Rams coach to beat the Buffaloes on his first try as Jared Roberts kicked two fourth-quarter field goals in Denver. Twelve coaches had failed.
No. 21 Stanford 20, San Jose St. 17: Jordan Williamson made a 20-yard go-ahead field goal 1:45 into the fourth quarter for the host Cardinal. Ed Reynolds' interception with 1:10 left sealed the win. Last season, quarterback Andrew Luck, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft in April, led Stanford past San Jose State 57-3.