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Aug. 18, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio-The Ohio State defense defended its right to wear the Scarlet-colored jerseys this season by earning a 66-65 victory over the offense Friday in the annual jersey scrimmage at Ohio Stadium.

Heavy rain fell for the majority of the 3-hour scrimmage, which consisted of more than 170 plays. The defense, which had earned the Scarlet jerseys in the same event during spring practice, built a sizeable lead after the offense was intercepted several times during the downpour.

The Gray squad rallied to tie the score at 65-all when head coach Jim Tressel conferred with defensive coordinator Jim Heacock about how to decide the scrimmage. At about 6 p.m., 30 minutes before the team was to be at a dinner function, the teams faced off inside the 5 yard line at the south end of Ohio Stadium for one play. A score would give the Gray the victory while a stop would end the contest in favor of Scarlet.

Senior Heisman Trophy candidate Troy Smith dropped back with four receivers at his disposal and threw over the middle only to have the defense bat the ball away to secure the win for the Scarlet.

Tressel said the scrimmage provided opportunities for both the student-athletes and coaches.

“Our guys like to compete and we put them in competitive situations,” Tressel said. “Now we have some film to evaluate.”

Ohio State learned it was the No. 1 pick in the preseason Associated Press media poll upon conclusion of the scrimmage. Tressel said the lofty ranking is appreciated but not dwelled upon by the players and staff.

“We just go to work regardless,” Tressel said. “At Ohio State whether we are picked high or low the expectations are already there.”

The Ohio State coaching staff was able to see several players perform at various defensive positions Friday. Tressel said the early part of the 2006 season would provide the same opportunities for the top-ranked Buckeyes.

“In the first two games of our season we’ll have a lot of people playing a lot of positions on defense,” Tressel said of a defense that lost nine starters from the 2005 unit. “We’ll use the film from today as a great teaching tool.”

The public will have an opportunity to see the Buckeyes first hand Monday night at Ohio Stadium. The team will sign autographs from 7-8 p.m. in the concourse of Ohio Stadium before the public practice is held from 8-9:45 p.m.

Players will be lined up numerically beginning in the southeast corner of Ohio Stadium and winding around to the southwest corner.

Admission and parking are free for this event.

Preseason Associated Press Poll 1. Ohio State (35) 0-0 1,558 2. Notre Dame (10) 0-0 1,470 3. Texas (8) 0-0 1,411 4. Auburn (3) 0-0 1,395 5. West Virginia (6) 0-0 1,354 6. USC (3) 0-0 1,345 7. Florida 0-0 1,178 8. LSU 0-0 1,144 9. California 0-0 975 10. Oklahoma 0-0 960 11. Florida State 0-0 949 12. Miami (FL) 0-0 893 13. Louisville 0-0 844 14. Michigan 0-0 824 15. Georgia 0-0 743 16. Iowa 0-0 720 17. Virginia Tech 0-0 614 18. Clemson 0-0 479 19. Penn State 0-0 386 20. Nebraska 0-0 332 21. Oregon 0-0 324 22. TCU 0-0 257 23. Tennessee 0-0 215 24. Arizona State 0-0 182 25. Texas Tech 0-0 181