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updated: 9/8/2012 5:25 PM

Miller too much for UCF as Ohio State wins 31-16

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  • Ohio State's Braxton Miller (5) breaks away from Central Florida players on his way to a touchdown during the first quarter Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.

      Ohio State's Braxton Miller (5) breaks away from Central Florida players on his way to a touchdown during the first quarter Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Central Florida coach George O'Leary certainly doesn't believe in moral victories.

After Braxton Miller rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another to lead No. 14 Ohio State to a 31-16 win over the Knights on Saturday, it was suggested to O'Leary that his team did well to throw a scare into the Buckeyes.

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"I'm not into `we played this' or `we played that,"' he said. "You either win or lose. We lost."

But, he added, he believes the old maxim that teams learn more from defeat than victory.

"I don't know whoever said (it) the other way, but they're nuts," he said. "That coach is no longer working."

The Knights learned a lot. They hung tough with the Buckeyes, trailing 17-10 at the half, but made too many mistakes to win on the road against a ranked opponent.

"Nobody in that locker room thought, `We hope we have a shot (at winning),"' quarterback Blake Bortles said. "We all knew coming in that we were going to be in this game and we could win. It wasn't, `I hope it's a close game.' We expected to win this game."

Bortles learned as much as anyone from the loss. He completed 25 of 41 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns, a 1-yarder to Justin Tukes and a 2-yarder to Billy Giovanetti. But he also had three interceptions -- two of which led to Ohio State touchdowns.

"If I play better, we have a good chance of winning," Bortles said.

Miller's scoring runs covered 37, 6 and 8 yards to prop up an Ohio State ground game that was missing its top two backs. He also found Jake Stoneburner on a 12-yard touchdown pass.

Miller hit on 18 of 24 passes for 155 yards -- no completion going for more than 15 yards -- with one interception.

"Everything they talk about Braxton Miller is accurate," O'Leary said. "He can make you look very foolish. At times he did with our team."

The last Ohio State quarterback to rush for three touchdowns in a game was Art Schlichter against Illinois in 1978.

Ahead by a tenuous seven points at the start of the second half, the Buckeyes put the game out of reach with big contributions from Miller and the defense.

Miller was at the controls as the Buckeyes took the kickoff and rolled 76 yards in 12 plays. At the UCF 12, he looked right, then rolled left before lobbing a pass barely over the outstretched arm of cornerback Jordan Ozerities to Stoneburner in the end zone.

After the extra-point and kickoff, Bortles threw a ball up for grabs that was picked off by linebacker Etienne Sabino at the Knights' 32.

"That's a horrible decision," Bortles said. "I've got to throw that ball out of bounds. I put our defense in a tough situation."

Miller took over from there. He ran for nine yards, passed to Devin Smith for 15 and then covered the last eight yards behind fullback Zach Boren.

With the game tied at 10 late in the half, Miller completed two passes for 24 yards, kept on a designed run for 24 yards before covering the final 6 yards on a sprint around left end.

The Buckeyes were never threatened again, thanks to UCF's errors.

Storm Johnson, starting in place of Latavius Murray, out with a shoulder injury, rushed for 75 yards on 12 carries.

"We could have won without the mistakes," Johnson said.

UCF was a preseason pick to win its division in Conference USA. The Knights take on Florida International in their home opener on Saturday.

O'Leary vowed his team would work hard to improve.

"You learn from losses," O'Leary added. "You either improve in areas or you've got to replace people."

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