COLUMBUS, Ohio >> Starting his first game in eight years, quarterback Joe Bauserman ran for a touchdown and threw for three to tight end Jake Stoneburner to lead No. 18 Ohio State to a 42-0 win over Akron on Saturday in a sweltering season opener.
Luke Fickell made his head-coaching debut for the Buckeyes after being elevated from defensive assistant to take the place of Jim Tressel, who was shoved out in the wake of an ugly NCAA scandal.
Stoneburner became the first Ohio State tight end to catch three TD passes in a game.
Bauserman, starting for the first time since he was a senior in high school, ran for a 15-yard score and threw TD passes of 28, 11 and 2 yards to Stoneburner.
The nearby Ohio State Medical Center reported around 20 people were treated for heat-related illnesses.
Buckeyes freshmen also had a big day. Heralded freshman quarterback Braxton Miller tossed a TD pass to another true freshman, Devin Smith, and classmate Rod Smith ran for a score.
Bauserman, who spent the last two years on the sidelines watching Terrelle Pryor play, completed 12 of 16 passes for 163 yards and the three scores with no interceptions.
Akron’s offense managed just 90 total yards. The Zips, 1-11 a year ago, came closest to scoring when a 41-yard field goal just before the half went wide.
In addition to the final score, every stat was lopsided in Ohio State’s favor, including first downs (27-5), rushing yards (224-35) and sacks (5-0).
Almost half the crowd was gone by halftime as the temperature soared to the high 90s with high humidity. One official had to leave the game due to dehydration.
The first half lasted almost 90 minutes thanks to three lengthy video reviews. It was way too long for the Zips, that’s for sure.
The Buckeyes scored on their first possession and twice late in the half.
Bauserman, a 25-year-old former Pittsburgh Pirates prospect as a pitcher, completed passes for 9 and 28 yards on the opening drive, capped by an Akron misplay. On a blown play, Bauserman turned to hand off the ball to a back but there was no one there. He sidestepped a defender and zigzagged through several more potential tacklers on a lumbering 15-yard touchdown — his first in college.
The Buckeyes led 21-0 after Bauserman hit Stoneburner on scoring passes of 28 yards and 11 yards, the second coming after Andrew Sweat picked off a pass that was tipped by teammate Dominic Clarke.
Not everything was golden for Ohio State. Acclaimed freshman tailback Rod Smith fumbled the ball away at the Akron 4 on the Buckeyes’ second possession. Miller was ineffective, losing yards on his first series. And Bauserman could have been sacked several times but the Zips failed to wrap him up when they had a clear shot.
But just about everything else went the Buckeyes’ way.
Ohio State went with one of its youngest starting lineups ever with just six seniors starting. Another reason for all the youth is the legion of NCAA problems surrounding the program.
The Buckeyes were without seven players for the opener. Leading returning receiver DeVier Posey, top 2010 rusher Dan Herron, starting offensive tackle Mike Adams and backup defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, are all suspended for the first five games for accepting cash and tattoos from the subject of a federal drug-trafficking probe. They were also without linebacker Jordan Whiting, who will sit out only the first game for the same NCAA violation.
This week the Buckeyes announced that starting tailback Jordan Hall, first-team cornerback Travis Howard and backup safety Corey "Pittsburgh" Brown were suspended indefinitely for receiving less than $300 in gifts from a charity earlier this year, also an NCAA violation. Ohio State has appealed to the NCAA for their reinstatement after one game, but no one knows when they’ll return.
Ohio State is already awaiting final sanctions from the NCAA after its hearing before the committee on infractions on Aug. 12. The school has vacated the 2010 season’s 12-1 record because Tressel used ineligible players, will pay $338,000 in bowl money to charity and will go on two years of NCAA probation. In addition, Tressel was forced to resign on May 30 and star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, a focal point of a lengthy NCAA investigation into improper benefits, left the program to jump to the NFL.
The 38-year-old Fickell is the sixth former Ohio State assistant to assume the head coaching job.
Clayton Moore, a junior-college transfer making his first start for Akron, completed 6 of 16 passes for 54 yards when he wasn’t being harassed by Ohio State’s line.
The road loss was the Zips’ 15th in a row.