COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Urban Meyer is a perfectionist.
His second-ranked Ohio State team was less than perfect.
Braxton Miller threw two touchdown passes before fighting leg cramps and Jordan Hall ran for two more scores to lead the Buckeyes to a 40-20 victory over Buffalo on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
"I preached all week about coming out fast and playing hard, and they did it. Two quick scores, the first quarter (went by the) script. You can't play much better than our guys did," Meyer said. "And then we rough a punter, and we have a fourth down (play) we don't make and then we throw a screen and it goes the other way. In a tight game, you're going to lose."
The Buckeyes, striving for a crisper start after a lethargic outing in Meyer's debut in 2012, led 23-0 after the first quarter before the Bulls made things interesting. Joe Licata threw two TD passes and linebacker Kahlil Mack returned a Miller interception 45 yards to make it 30-20 in the third quarter.
A crowd of 103,980 didn't know what to think.
But after Miller was sidelined a second time with cramps, sub Kenny Guiton promptly tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Chris Fields and the Buckeyes were never threatened again.
"After we created a little momentum going our way, then all of a sudden — BAM! — they're right back in the end zone," Bulls coach Jeff Quinn said. "That's the mark of a good football team."
Licata completed 19 of 32 passes for 185 yards and two scores with one interception, with Branden Oliver gaining 73 yards on 26 carries for the Bulls, who were playing Ohio State for the first time.
"If you're looking for a moral victory, that means you lost the game," Licata said. "No, we don't feel good about losing."
Ohio State was in control after its first three possessions. Miller, who was 15 of 22 passing for 178 yards and also ran for 77 yards on 17 attempts, hit Devin Smith on a 47-yard scoring pass on the fourth offensive play of the season. Then he found Fields on a 7-yard scoring pass.
As good as that first 15 minutes was — 216 yards of offense, a big lead and Buffalo looking thoroughly defeated — the Bulls were far from dead.
The Buckeyes, who had 10 new starters on defense to start the game, missed a punt block and roughed the punter, then failed on a Hall run on fourth and 1 near midfield. Meyer chewed out his offensive line when it returned to the bench.