COLUMBUS, Ohio — After a 76-0 victory over outmanned and overmatched Florida A&M, Urban Meyer couldn’t say for certain that his Ohio State team got a lot out of its meek non-conference schedule.
“Obviously, at midnight next week, we’ll know,” the coach of No. 4 Ohio State said, referring to the Big Ten opener on Saturday against No. 24 Wisconsin. “Are we prepared? I like to think we are.”
There’s no doubt that Kenny Guiton is.
For the third game in a row, the perennial backup starred in place of the injured Braxton Miller. Guiton set a school record with six touchdown passes — all in the first half — in a blow-out of historic proportions.
It was an epic mismatch between a team with national-title aspirations and a Football Championship Subdivision member getting a $900,000 guarantee.
FAMU, which picked up the sport in 1899, had never lost by so many points. It was the most lopsided Ohio State win since an 85-7 victory over Drake in 1935.
“We don’t want a pity party,” said Rattlers coach Earl Holmes, who made a point of saying the Buckeyes didn’t run up the score on his team. “I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t expect the coach to kneel. You play the game. You play for 60 minutes.”
At least it was decided relatively quickly. The Buckeyes (4-0) needed a total of four offensive plays and 46 seconds to go up 21-0 in the opening 6 minutes and never looked back. Guiton, who completed 24 of 34 passes for 215 yards, tossed four TD passes in the first quarter.
“I had all day,” Guiton said. “The coaches wanted to come out throwing the ball around and I thank them for the trust they had in me to be able to do that.”
FAMU (1-3) was behind 48-0 when it picked up its initial first down in the second quarter.
The Rattlers’ biggest previous margin of defeat was 73-6 to Tuskegee in 1926. They lost to Oklahoma 69-13 a year ago and South Florida 70-17 in 2011.
The stats were as lopsided as the score. Ohio State had a 34-2 edge in first downs and a 603-80 differential in yards.
“I wouldn’t say we’re unsatisfied,” tight end Jeff Heuerman said. “There’s always room for improvement. We’re not perfect.”
Miller, the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year last season and a Heisman Trophy hopeful this year, missed his second game in a row with a sprained medial-collateral ligament in his left knee.
Meyer had said Miller was probable to play against the Rattlers, but he never put on his uniform.
It didn’t take long for this game to get out of control, with or without him.
After a short punt ended the Rattlers’ first possession, Ohio State took over at the FAMU 30. On third down from the 3, Guiton’s pass into the end zone was picked off by Patrick Aiken. Aiken, however, elected to try to run the ball out. He got to the 3 before being hit by running back Jordan Hall and fumbling the ball away.
“I got caught up in the moment,” Aiken said. “I made a mental error. I should have just kneed the ball in the end zone.”
On the next play, Hall scored the first of his two touchdowns.
After a 65-yard punt return by Corey Brown put the ball at the 11, one play later Guiton flipped an 11-yard TD pass to Heuerman. That made it 13-0 — the Buckeyes inexplicably went for two but failed — with the touchdowns coming on two plays totaling 10 seconds.
Doran Grant blocked the next FAMU punt and the Buckeyes were right back in business at the 25. It took two more passes to make it 20-0, with Guiton hitting Evan Spencer for the final eight yards and the score.
Carlos Hyde, who had been suspended for the first three games after an alleged altercation with a female in a bar this summer, took a shovel pass the final yard late in the quarter. After the ensuing kickoff, Bradley Roby intercepted a pass by Damien Fleming and returned it to the 5. It was 34-0 after Guiton hit Devin Smith for the score.
Guiton eclipsed the mark that had been held by John Borton in 1952 and Bobby Hoying (who did it in 1994 and again in 1995) with his second TD pass to Spencer in the final seconds of the half.
With the Buckeyes up 55-0 at the half, Meyer took his foot off the gas and filled the field with subs. Fifth-team tailback Ezekiel Elliott ran for 162 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns and third-string quarterback Cardale Jones ran for one.
“You come to Ohio State to compete for the Big Ten championship,” Meyer said. “That actually started in a meeting just a minute ago.”
The Rattlers’ largest previous margin of defeat was 73-6 against Tuskegee in 1926.
“It’s always worth it,” Holmes said of scheduling a juggernaut. “You’ve got some guys who have aspirations of playing on Sunday. So you find out exactly where you fit.”
The Rattlers found out, all right.