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Nov. 13, 2006

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THIS WEEK
Top-ranked and unbeaten Ohio State returns home this week to conclude the regular season against second-ranked and unbeaten Michigan.

This will be the second time this year that Buckeyes have been involved in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 clash. Ohio State was No. 1 and Texas No. 2 when the two teams met in Austin Sept. 9 in a game won 24-7 by coach Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes.

On the line this week are both undisputed possession of the Big Ten title and a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game on Jan. 8, 2007.

This week’s game will be televised by ABC and will kickoff at 3:45 p.m., EST, in sold-out Ohio Stadium. A record crowd of more than 106,000 is expected to be on hand for the 103rd meeting between the two traditional powerhouses.

In addition to ABC, College GameDay will be on campus for the second time this year and the list of national media includes representatives from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix San Diego, St. Louis, St. Petersburg and Manchester, N.H., just to name a few who are on hand to witness what has come to be regarded as the greatest rivalry in sports.

Bowl representatives in town include the BCS Title Game, the Fiesta Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl.

WBNS Radio, the flagship station for the Ohio State radio network will carry the game on the 73-station Ohio State Radio Network. The game can be heard, too on the USA Radio Network and Sirius Satellite Radio.

Both teams are 11-0 on the year and own spotless 7-0 records in the Big Ten. Ohio State is coming off a 54-10 drubbing of Northwestern and owns the nation’s longest winning streak with 18 consecutive victories. The Buckeyes have won 13 consecutive Big Ten games and are unbeaten in their last 11 home games.

Michigan, a 34-3 winner over Indiana on Saturday is 4-0 on the road this year.

SENIOR DAY
Ohio State’s 19 seniors, 16 of whom are in their fifth year, will be introduced to the Ohio Stadium crowd Saturday and will meet with their families at midfield prior to the game. During the past four year, this class has a combined record of 40-8, will have played in four bowl games, including three BCS games, and has shared one Big Ten title.

TUNNEL OF PRIDE
As has become the tradition in recent years for the Michigan game, former Ohio State football players will form a tunnel of pride for the Buckeyes to run through when they enter the field before the game. The list of returnees includes 94-year-old William H. “Tippy” Dye (1934-36). Tippy, who later served as the Buckeyes head basketball coach and was athletics director at Northwestern, currently lives in Los Angeles.

BUCKEYES REMAIN UNANIMOUS NO. 1
Ohio State continues to hold down the top spot in the Bowl Championship Series with a ranking of .9765. Michigan is second with a .9735 figure and Southern California has moved up to third at .8699.

The Buckeyes also are No. 1 in the Associated Press, USA Today coaches and Harris Interactive polls. Ohio State received 62 of 63 first-place votes from the coaches and 64 of 65 first-place votes from the writers, while it got 112 first-place votes in the Harris poll.

The Buckeyes have been in the Top 25 for 24-consecutive weeks, including 12 straight appearances in the Top 10 and 11 straight at No. 1. Ohio State began the year ranked No. 1 and is bidding to become the first Buckeye team ever to go wire-to-wire at the No. 1 spot.

LAST WEEK

No. 1 Ohio State 21 12 14 7 54
Northwestern 0 10 0 0 10

All-America and Heisman Trophy candidate Troy Smith threw four touchdown passes for the third time this year, tailback Antonio Pittman went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive season and the Ohio State defense recorded five turnovers leading to 34 points as the Buckeyes rolled over host Northwestern 54-10.

The OSU point total represents a season best and is the most points scored by the Buckeyes since 1996 and the most points in a Big Ten game since 1995. Ohio State recovered three fumbles and intercepted a pair of passes against the Wildcats, giving the Buckeyes at least one interception in every game this year. Brandon Mitchell returned his interception 46 yards for a touchdown, putting the Buckeyes ahead 21-0 with 3:38 to play in the first quarter. It was the Buckeyes’ third defensive TD of the year.

Redshirt freshman Brian Hartline was on the receiving end of two of Smith’s TD tosses. Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez had the other two. Pittman finished with 80 yards and a touchdown to run his season total to 1,032 yard and freshman Beanie Wells came off the bench to rush for 99 yards and a score. Ohio State finished with 425 yards in total offense and limited Northwestern to 297.

OHIO STATE PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Following last week’s 54-10 victory at Northwestern, the Ohio State coaching staff selected Troy Smith as the team’s offensive player of the game and Brandon Mitchell was team’s defensive player of the game. Kirk Barton was the team’s offensive lineman of the game while Larry Grant was the special teams player of the game. Jay Richardson was named the attack force player of the game. The scout team players of the week were Walter Dublin on special teams, Ryan Williams on defense and Dre Riddick on offense.

SIX NOMINATED FOR ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Six Ohio State football players have been nominated for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors: Doug Datish, Anthony Gonzalez, James Laurinaitis, Joel Penton, Brian Robiskie and Stan White Jr. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 on a 4.00 scale, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings and be nominated by his sports information director.

OHIO STATE AWARDS CANDIDATES
Heisman Trophy candidate Troy Smith has been named as a semi-finalist for the Maxwell Award as college football’s player of the year and is also a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Davey O’Brien Quarterback Award.

Additionally, defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock has been named as a finalist for both the Lombardi Award and the Lott Trophy, linebacker James Laurinaitis is a finalist for the Butkus and the Bednarik awards and flanker Ted Ginn Jr. is a semi-finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Center Doug Datish (Rimington Award) and tailback Antonio Pittman (Doak Walker Award) were both on preseason watch lists and are still in contention for those awards.

A LOOK AT THE BUCKEYES
The Ohio State offense is averaging 35.8 points and 401.3 yards per game, while the defense is allowing 7.8 points and 261.7 yards each time out. The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten in scoring offense (eighth nationally) and lead the nation in scoring defense. They also are second in the Big Ten in total offense and third in total defense (eighth nationally). Ohio State ranks fifth nationally in passing efficiency (166.3) and is third in turnover margin (1.27)

The Ohio State defense has limited its last six opponents to a total of 37 points and has given up just two touchdowns in the last 16 quarters. Only four opponents, Northern Illinois, Iowa, Illinois and Northwestern have scored in double figures and only Iowa has scored two touchdowns. The Buckeyes are outscoring their first 10 opponents by an average of 28 points a game.

Led by senior quarterback Troy Smith, Ohio State is passing for 221.8 yards per game. Smith has completed 66.4 percent of his passes and has thrown for 26 of the Buckeyes’ 27 passing touchdowns. Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez have combined for 96 receptions and 15 touchdown catches. Tailback Antonio Pittman has rushed for 1,032 yards and 12 of the Buckeyes’ 22 rushing touchdowns. Ohio State is averaging 179.5 yards per game on the ground.

On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes’ defense is allowing 90 yards a game rushing and 171.5 yards through the air. Ohio State has given up nine touchdowns on the year – six passing and three on the ground.

The OSU defense has forced 27 turnovers, including 21 interceptions, leading to 134 points by the offense. The Buckeyes have at least one interception in all 11 games this year. Conversely, the defense has not given up a point this year following any of the 13 turnovers by the offense.

Butkus Award finalist James Laurinaitis leads the Buckeyes in tackles with 91, while Vernon Gholston has 14 tackles-for-loss and Lombardi Award finalist Quinn Pitcock has 8.0 sacks.

SMITH IN CONTROL AT THE CONTROLS
With the win at Northwestern last Saturday, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith now is 24-2 as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback, including a 9-1 mark against ranked teams, a 2-0 ledger against Michigan and a 1-0 bowl mark.

Smith has completed 170 of his 256 passes this year, good for 2,191 yards and 26 touchdowns. He has been intercepted just four times, and two of those were deflections. The All-America and Heisman Trophy candidate leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency with a 168.69 figure and also leads the league in touchdown passes. He has thrown at least one TD pass in 10 of the Buckeyes’ 11 games and has two or more TD tosses in eight of those contests. Smith has the lowest career interception rate in the nation among active quarterbacks with a mark of 1.78 (11 interceptions, 615 attempts). Smith also has rushed for 221 yards and a touchdown.

CAREER NUMBERS FOR SMITH
Quarterback Troy Smith is the all-time completion percentage leader in Ohio State history, connecting on 62.9 percent of his passes (387 of 615). He has moved up to third in career total offense with 6,554 yards and ranks seventh in career passing yards with 5,369 yards. Smith has thrown 50 career touchdown passes, the third highest total in Ohio State annals. The school record of 57 belongs to Bobby Hoying (1992-95).

PITTMAN TOPS 1,000-YARD MARK
Ohio State tailback Antonio Pittman rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown at Northwestern and now has 1,032 yards on the year. The 5-foot-11-inch junior, who rushed for 1,331 yards a year ago, becomes the first OSU running back since Eddie George (1994-95) to put together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

Pittman has six 100-yard games this year and 14 for his career. He is fourth in the Big Ten in rushing at 93.8 yards per game and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry on 214 attempts. Pittman also leads the Buckeyes in scoring with 12 touchdowns, five more than he had all of last year. He has at least one TD run in 10 of the Buckeyes’ 11 games (he did not score against Indiana).

Only George, Archie Griffin (1973-74-75), Tim Spencer (1981-82) and Keith Byars (1983-84) have rushed for consecutive 1,000-yard seasons at Ohio State.

THE `FUN BUNCH’
The Buckeye “Fun Bunch” of quarterback Troy Smith, wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez and tailback Antonio Pittman continue to put up impressive numbers for the Ohio State offense.

Smith has completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 2,191 yards and 26 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1-inch senior also has rushed for 221 yards and a touchdown.

Ginn has a team-high eight touchdown grabs on 51 receptions and is averaging 13.3 yards per catch, while Gonzalez has 45 receptions, is averaging 15.0 yards per catch and has seven TD receptions.

Pittman is the Buckeyes’ leading ground gainer with 1,032 yards on 214 carries and has a team-leading 12 touchdowns to his credit. The hard-running junior has six 100-yard games this year.

LETHAL COMBO
Ohio State’s wide-receiver tandem of Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez have combined for 96 receptions, 1,350 yards and 15 touchdown catches. Ginn is fourth in the Big Ten in average receptions per game at 4.6 and is tied for second in touchdown receptions with eight. Gonzalez ranks 10th in receptions per game at 4.09 and is seventh in receiving yards per game at 61.2.

GINN STREAKS CONTINUE
Ohio State receiver Ted Ginn Jr. has caught at least one pass in 30-consecutive games (beginning with Iowa in 2004) and has multiple catches in 28-consecutive games. His 10 receptions against Bowling Green earlier this year represents a career best, bettering his previous high of nine set last year at Michigan

The Buckeye junior, who has equaled his reception total of a year ago, is seventh on the all-time OSU receiving list with 127 receptions. He also ranks 10th in career receiving yards with 1,839 yards – an average of 14.4 yards per reception.

THIRD-AND-GONZO
Junior split end Anthony Gonzalez had two receptions for 34 yard and a touchdown at Northwestern. Gonzalez has 45 receptions on the year and 39 of those, including 10 of the last 11, have resulted in first downs. Gonzalez has seven touchdown catches.

SOME STREAKS OF NOTE
Ohio State’s current 18-game winning streak is the longest in the nation and the third longest in the modern era for the Buckeyes. Between 1967 and 1969, the Buckeyes reeled off 22-consecutive victories, including 17 straight Big Ten wins, for the longest streak in OSU annals. In 2002 and 2003, Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes rolled to 19-consecutive victories, including a perfect 14-0 record and the national championship in 2002. The current streak began last year against Michigan State.

ELITE COMPANY
The 2006 Buckeyes are just the fifth Ohio State team to get out of the starting gate with a perfect 11-0 record. The other four 11-0 starts came in 1975, 1979, 1995 and 2002. Only the 2002 team made it to 12-0, finishing the season with a perfect 14-0 season and the national championship.

DOUBLE DIGITS
This is the fourth Ohio State team to reach 10 or more wins under sixth-year head coach Jim Tressel. The 2002 team won the national championship with a 14-0 record, while his 2003 team finished 11-2. Last year’s team was 10-2. The Buckeyes have played in a BCS bowl each year they have won at least 10 games under Tressel.

OHIO STATE COACH Jim Tressel
Jim Tressel is in his sixth season as head coach at Ohio State. His record with the Buckeyes is 61-13 (.824), including a 37-10 (.787) slate in the Big Ten, and his career ledger now stands at 196-70-2 (.735) in his 21st season as a head coach.

Tressel took over the Buckeyes in 2001, directing them to a 7-5 record that year. In 2002, he led Ohio State to a 14-0 record and the school’s first consensus national championship since 1968.

In 2003, the Buckeyes won their first five games to extend their winning streak to 19 and finished with an 11-2 record. The 2004 squad, which had to replace 14 NFL drafted players, won five of its last six games en route to an 8-4 finish.

A season ago, Tressel guided the Buckeyes to a 10-2 overall record with seven-consecutive victories down the stretch, which included a 34-20 victory over Notre Dame in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in January. The current 18-game winning streak is second only to the 19-consecutive wins under Tressel in 2002 (14-0) and 2003 (5-0 to start season).

Tressel’s teams have appeared in five bowl games and are 4-1 in those contests, including three BCS wins in the Fiesta Bowl during the last four seasons. They also are 4-1 against Michigan in one of the most intense and storied rivalries in all of sports.

Eleven of Tressel’s players have won first-team All-America honors and four have won major awards, including linebacker A.J. Hawk, the recipient of the 2005 Lombardi Award.

Tressel is a master in close games. Since coming to Ohio State, he is 18-9 in games decided by a touchdown or less and 4-1 in overtime games.

He is at his best against the best with a 24-7 record against teams ranked in the Top 25 and a 7-2 mark against teams ranked in the Top 10.

The 53-year-old Tressel is a 1975 graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College.

THE OHIO STATE-MICHGAIN SERIES
The two teams are meeting for the 103rd time in a rivalry that began in 1897 and has been continuous since 1918. Since 1935, the game has been the traditional conference finale between the two schools. Michigan was 13-0-2 in the first 15 games of the series before finally dropping 13-3 decision in Ann Arbor in 1919. Since 1951, the Buckeyes have a 27-26-2 lead, including victories in four of the past five games under Jim Tressel. Ohio State has won the last two games in the series and has won two straight in Ohio Stadium, but Michigan leads the series in Columbus 27-21-2.

Over the years, the two teams have been undefeated a total of 17 times when meeting one another, but 15 of those were prior to 1935. Since 1935, that has happened just twice – both in the Hayes-Schembechler era – in 1970 and 1973.

In 1970, the 8-0 Buckeyes downed the 9-0 Wolverines 20-9. In 1973, 9-0 Ohio State and 10-0 Michigan played to a 10-10 tie.

This also will be the eighth time that one or the other of the two teams has been ranked No. 1. Michigan was No. 1 going into the game in 1947, ’48 and ’97, while Ohio State was No. 1 in 1954, ’69, ’73 and ’75.

RECAPPING LAST YEAR
The Buckeyes recorded a 25-21 come-from-behind victory in Ann Arbor, tallying the winning touchdown on a 3-yard run off left tackle by tailback Antonio Pittman with 24 ticks left on the clock. Quarterback Troy Smith engineered drives of 69 and 88 yards in the final eight minutes to rescue his team from a 21-12 deficit. A 26-yard pass to Santonio Holmes cut the Michigan lead to 21-19 and Pittman’s run gave Ohio State the lead for good. The latter was set up by a spectacular leaping catch by Anthony Gonzalez at the Wolverines’ 4-yard line.

Ted Ginn had a season-high nine receptions for 89 yards as the Buckeyes rolled up 418 yards in total offense.

Smith threw for 300 yards and also ran for 37, including a 4-yard touchdown in the first quarter, giving him 723 yards in total offense in his two starts against the Wolverines.

Middle linebacker Anthony Schlegel had 10 tackles for the Buckeyes who lost outside linebacker Bobby Carpenter on the first defensive play of the game with a broken ankle.

GINN BIG TEN RECORD HOLDER
Ted Ginn Jr. set the Big Ten record for career touchdowns on punt returns with a 60-yard runback at Michigan State Oct. 14. The Ohio State junior now has six touchdowns on punt returns. The NCAA career record of eight is shared by Wes Welker of Texas Tech (2000-03) and Antonio Perkins of Oklahoma (2001-04). Ginn had four punt returns for scores in 2004 and one last year. His return against MSU is the lone punt return for a TD in the Big Ten this year.

ALL-PURPOSE THREAT
By throwing a 38-yard touchdown pass against Indiana, Ted Ginn Jr. now has thrown for a touchdown, run for a touchdown (two), returned a punt for a touchdown (six), returned a kickoff for a touchdown (one) and caught 14 passes for touchdowns as a Buckeye.

DEFENSIVE DANDIES
Ohio State co-captains David Patterson and Quinn Pitcock, arguably two of the top defensive tackles in college football this year, were reunited Saturday after a three-game hiatus. Patterson missed the Michigan State and Indiana games because of a knee injury. When he returned against Minnesota, Pitcock was sidelined after suffering a mild concussion against the Hoosiers.

“It was nice to be back in there and playing together,” Patterson said. “We only have three games left as teammates so we want to be in there and help this team any way we can.”

Buckeye coach Jim Tressel certainly appreciates having his two captains in the lineup.

“As far as I am concerned they are the best two defensive tackles in the country,” Tressel noted earlier in the year. “And in addition to being terrific players, they are both excellent leaders. Our front four is the strength of our defense and Quinn and David set the tone.”

Pitcock has 10.0 tackles-for-loss, including a team-high 8.0 sacks, and 33 tackles on the season. In 12 games last year, he finished with 28 tackles and 3.0 tackles-for-loss and one sack. Patterson has 16 tackles on the year, including three tackles-for-loss. He was credited with a career-high seven tackles against Penn State this year.

PITCOCK HAS CAREER DAY
Lombardi Award finalist and All-America candidate Quinn Pitcock came within a shoestring of tying and perhaps setting the Ohio State single-game record for sacks against Cincinnati. The 6-foot-3-inch, 295-pound senior bull rushed his way through the Bearcats’ offensive line en route to a career-high three sacks for minus 24 yards. Pitcock narrowly missed two other sacks, UC quarterback Dustin Grutza somehow slipping out of his grasp. The OSU single-game sack record of four is shared by Bobby Carpenter (Michigan State, 2005) and Jason Simmons (Washington State, 1991). Pitcock, who had one sack all of last year, has a team-leading 7.0 this year.

A SPECIAL SOPHOMORE
Sophomore linebacker James Laurinaitis continues to lead the Buckeyes in tackles with 91 and is tied for the Big Ten lead in interceptions with five. The Butkus Award finalist also has 8.5 tackles-for-loss and 4.0 sacks and has forced three fumbles. Laurinaitis has led the Buckeyes in tackles in seven of their 11 games this year, including a career-best 13 stops at Texas.

The OSU single-season record for interceptions by a linebacker is six, set in 1986 by Chris Spielman. Laurinaitis had picks in four-consecutive games (Texas, Cincinnati, Penn State and Iowa) earlier this year before having that streak ended against Bowling Green.

BUCKEYE NOTES
Sophomore Brian Robiskie has caught a pass in every game this year … Redshirt freshman Brian Hartline enjoyed his best day as a Buckeye at Northwestern, snagging two Troy Smith passes for touchdowns. Hartline finished with three receptions on the day for 47 yards … Antonio Pittman has at least one touchdown in 15 of his last 16 games as the Buckeyes’ tailback … freshman tailback Beanie Wells ran for a career high 99 yards and a touchdown at Northwestern … Todd Boeckman scored his first career rushing touchdown at Northwestern, tallying from four yards out on a quarterback draw … Cornerback Malcolm Jenkins finished with a team-best eight tackles against the Wildcats, one short of his career high … freshman linebacker Ross Homan picked off his first career interception at Northwestern and senior defensive end Jay Richardson notched his first fumble recovery of the year … Senior safety Brandon Mitchell recorded his second career interception return for a touchdown at Northwestern, going 46 yards after picking off an errant Wildcat throw. Mitchell had a 57-yard return for a touchdown at Indiana last year. Vernon Gholston leads the Buckeyes in tackles-for-loss with 14.0 and is second in sacks with 7.5 … The sophomore defensive end recorded two of the Buckeyes’ three sacks at Northwestern.

BUCKEYE SACK PACK
Ohio State ranks third in the Big Ten in sacks with 33. The Buckeyes are led by defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock with 8.0, followed by Vernon Gholston with 7.5. James Laurinaitis has 4.0 and defensive end Jay Richardson 3.0

THE GLENVILLE CONNECTION
Quarterback Troy Smith and flanker Ted Ginn Jr., both of whom prepped at Glenville High School, continue to form one of college football’s most dangerous duos. When the two hooked up on a 57-yard scoring strike against Bowling Green on Oct. 7, it marked their eighth play of more than 50 yards.

OHIO STATE AT HOME
The Buckeyes boast an all-time record of 372-104-20 (.770) in Ohio Stadium. Ohio State has won 11 straight, and 15 of the last 16, games played in the Horseshoe. Ohio State’s all-time record in Columbus is 515-151-35 in 701 games.

OSU IMPROVES RECORD AS NO. 1
Ohio State is 62-8-1 when ranked as the nation’s No. 1 team. Overall, the Buckeyes are 294-68-9 when carrying a Top 10 ranking and 401-123-14 as a Top 25 team. Ohio State has opened the season No. 1 seven times, second only to Oklahoma (nine). The Buckeyes own the record for most appearances (53) in the first 57 years of the Associated Press Poll.

OHIO STATE IN BIG TEN PLAY
Over the years, Ohio State has either won outright or shared 30 Big Ten titles. The co-championship last year was OSU’s second under Jim Tressel. The Buckeyes also shared the title in 2002, notching a perfect 8-0 record. With a 7-0 league record this year, Ohio State owns an all-time Big Ten record of 435-187-28 in 94 seasons of league competition.

Ohio State vs. W L T
Chicago 10 2 2
Illinois 60 29 4
Indiana 65 12 5
Iowa 44 14 3
Michigan 39 57 6
Michigan St. 25 12 0
Minnesota 39 7 0
Northwestern 57 14 1
Penn State 11 11 0
Purdue 35 12 2
Wisconsin 50 17 5
TOTAL 435 187 28

BUCKEYES PERFECT IN NO. 1 VS. NO. 2 SHOWDOWNS
This will be the second time this year that the No. 1 Buckeyes have faced a No. 2 team. In week two of the season, top-ranked Ohio State downed second-ranked Texas in Austin in the earliest regular-season match-up in college football annals between a No. 1 and a No. 2 team. Prior to this year, Ohio State has been involved in two other 1 vs. 2 showdowns. The first was in the 1969 Rose Bowl and the second in the 2002 national championship game at the 2003 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State won both, downing the Southern California, 27-16, in the former and Miami (Florida), 31-24 in two overtimes, in the latter. On both occasions, the Buckeyes were the No. 2 ranked team.

BUCKEYES RECORD IMPRESSIVE WINS
During their 18-game winning streak, Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes have recorded wins over five of college football’s most successful programs – Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Penn State and Iowa. Michigan tops the all-time victories list with 860 wins (860-280-36), Notre Dame is second at 820-267-42 and Texas ranks third at 809-311-33. The Buckeyes are fifth all-time with 786 wins. Iowa ranks No. 41 on the all-time wins list (552-494-39).

BUCKEYES GET HIGH GRADES
A league-best 18 Ohio State football players were named to the Big Ten’s All-Academic team last fall, marking the fourth year in a row the Buckeyes have led the conference in that area. Additionally, a record 46 Ohio State football players qualified for last spring’s annual OSU Scholar-Athlete Dinner, which requires a grade-point average of 3.00 or better for the past academic year. As a team, the Buckeyes have an overall GPA of 2.83. A total of 52 football student-athletes earned a 3.00 or better during Ohio State’s spring quarter and 46 had a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 after spring grades were calculated.

BUCKEYE GRADUATES
Quarterback Troy Smith (communication), center Doug Datish (history), strong safety Brandon Mitchell (political science) and fullback Stan White Jr. (finance) all are working toward graduate degrees while playing football for the Buckeyes this season. Two most recent student-athletes to earn their degrees are All-America linebacker A.J. Hawk and Richard Schafrath, who lettered from 1956-58. Both were awarded degrees following the 2006 summer quarter. Other 2005-06 graduates include Bobby Carpenter, Angelo Chattams, R.J. Coleman, John Conroy, Ryan Hamby, Rob Harley, Mike Roberts, Anthony Schlegel, Brandon Schnittker, Rob Sims, Steve Winner and Ashton Youboty.

THE BUCKEYES ALL-TIME
Ohio State enters this week’s game with an all-time record of 786-300-53 in 116 seasons of competition. That includes a Big Ten record of 435-187-28 since 1913, an Ohio Stadium slate of 372-104-20 since 1922 and a bowl mark of 18-19.

OSU COACHES IN THE PRESS BOX
Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman and quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels will be in the press box for the Buckeyes during the game as will cornerbacks coach Tim Beckman and co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell.

BUCKEYE CAPTAINS
Seniors Troy Smith, Doug Datish, Quinn Pitcock and David Patterson were voted by their teammates as captains of the 2006 Ohio State football team. Smith (QB) and Datish (C) will lead from the offensive side while Pitcock and Patterson represent the defense from the defensive tackle spot. The four entered the season with 128 games of combined experience as Buckeyes.

OHIO STATE 35, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 12

Northern Illinois 0 3 3 6 12
No. 1 Ohio State 21 7 0 7 35

No. 1/1 Ohio State scored on its first four possessions of the game while Troy Smith threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns and Ted Ginn Jr. hauled in four catches for 123 yards and two scores in leading the Buckeyes to a 35-12 victory against Northern Illinois in front of 103,896 fans Sept. 2 at Ohio Stadium.

Smith completed 18-of-25 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns without an interception or a sack. Ginn reeled in a 58-yard TD pass in the first quarter and a 56-yard reception in the fourth quarter. He also had 69 return yards with 44 yards on two punt returns and two kick returns for 25 yards, Antonio Pittman carried the ball 19 times for 111 yards and one touchdown, while Anthony Gonzalez caught four passes for 53 yards and one TD. True freshman Chris Wells, in his Buckeye debut, rushed for 50 yards on 10 carries.

The Buckeyes outgained the Huskies in total yardage, 488-343, and amassed 173 yards rushing on 36 carries while they posted 315 yards on 20-of-27 passing. The Huskies totaled 153 yards rushing and 192 yards passing. A lot of that yardage came from Garrett Wolfe, the nation’s leading returning rusher. He totaled 171 yards on the ground and had five catches for 114 yards.

The Buckeyes turned the ball over twice, both inside the NIU 10-yard line, and missed two field goals.

Brandon Mitchell finished the game with 10 tackles, including one tackle for loss, to lead Ohio State. Marcus Freeman added nine tackles. The defense saw five first-time starters, including Vernon Gholston, Antonio Smith, Marcus Freeman, Nick Patterson and John Kerr. Two offensive players – Hartline and Brian Robiskie – made their first starts as Buckeyes.

The win was the 28th straight win for the Buckeyes’ in their home opener.

OHIO STATE 24, TEXAS 7

No. 1 Ohio State 7 7 3 7 24
No. 2 Texas 0 7 0 0 7

Led by Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez and Antonio Pittman on offense and bolstered by a young but quickly coming-of-age defense, top-ranked Ohio State solidified its place in the polls with its 17-point victory over the defending national champion Longhorns.

Smith enhanced his early season Heisman Trophy status by completing 17 of 26 passes for 269 yards and a pair of touchdowns against a veteran Texas defense, giving him five touchdown passes and 566 passing yards in his first two games.

Ginn, the Buckeyes’ other Heisman hopeful, was on the receiving end of five passes for 97 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown grab just before halftime that put Ohio State in front 14-7 going into the locker room. Ginn’s grab capped off a business-like five-play, 66-yard drive that began with 1:55 remaining in the second quarter. The speedy flanker set the tone early with a 46-yard catch-and-run on the Buckeyes’ second play from scrimmage.

The Buckeyes also received a career-best performance from Gonzalez, who hauled in eight catches for 142 yards. The junior split end and honor student got Ohio State on the board with 1:04 to play in the first quarter by latching on to a 14-yard pass from Smith that put the icing on a 50-yard drive.

Pittman led the Buckeyes in rushing for the second consecutive week, finishing with 74 yards on 16 carries, an average of 4.6 yards per attempt. His 2-yard touchdown run with 6:31 to play capped off the scoring and put the game out of reach. The Buckeyes, who took over the ball at their own 28-yard line after a missed Texas field goal, marched 72 yards in 10 plays for the score.

The Buckeye defense limited the Texas offense to 326 total yards and just the one touchdown and set up two OSU scores with timely takeaways.

Sophomore linebacker James Laurinaitis was involved in both turnovers. First, he forced a first-quarter fumble at the OSU 1-yard line that cornerback Donald Washington scooped up and returned 49 yards to set up the Smith-to-Ginn touchdown pass. Then, on the first play of the third quarter, he intercepted a Colt McCoy pass and ran it back 25 yards to the Texas 31-yard line. Kicker Aaron Pettrey gave the Buckeyes a 10-point cushion with a 31-yard field goal.

With the aggressive defensive front keeping the pressure on throughout the evening, Laurinaitis finished with a game-best and career-high 13 tackles to go along with two forced fumbles, his first career interception and a pass broken up. Safety Brandon Mitchell was credited with nine stops, while Washington, who was making his first start at corner, had five. Cover corner Malcolm Jenkins and nickel back Antonio Smith each had five stops as Ohio State kept Texas under 40 points for the first time in 13 games.

Sophomore punter A. J. Trapasso kept the Longhorns corralled in their own territory by averaging 50.8 yards per punt on six kicks – the third best single-game performance in Ohio State history. That average includes a 39-yard punt at the end of the game that rolled out-of-bounds on the Texas 6-yard line. The Longhorns’ average field position after a Trapasso thumper was their own 21-yard line.

The victory squared the series at 1-1 and gave Ohio State an all-time record of 4-0 in the Lone Star state.

OHIO STATE 37, CINCINNATI 7

Cincinnati 7 0 0 0 7
No. 1 Ohio State 3 10 7 17 37

Ohio State ran its record to 3-0 with a 37-7 victory over visiting Cincinnati. The win was the Buckeyes’ 10th in a row.

After falling behind 7-3 at the end of the first quarter (the first time all year that OSU had trailed), the Buckeyes scored 34 unanswered points en route to their seventh-consecutive win in Ohio Stadium.

Quarterback Troy Smith again led the Buckeyes to victory, completing 21 of 30 passes for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns. OSU rolled up 444 yards in total offense and scoring drives of 85, 80 and 72 yards – three of their longest drives of the year.

Smith connected with Ted Ginn Jr. on a pair of scoring strikes in the second and third quarters to give Ohio State a comfortable 20-7 lead. But it was Antonio Pittman who put the game out of reach with a 48-yard scoring jaunt with just over nine minutes to go in the fourth period. Pittman finished his afternoon with 155 yards on 16 carries, an impressive 9.7 yards per attempt. Backup tailback Maurice Wells scored the other OSU touchdown on a nine-yard run. Aaron Pettrey added field goals of 47 and 43 yards and Ryan Pretorius hit from 52-yards away to complete the scoring.

Gonzalez and Ginn each had five receptions to pace the receiving corps as four different quarterbacks hooked up with 11 different receivers.

The Ohio State defense limited the Bearcats to 212 yards of total offense, including a scant 64 in the second half. Senior tackle Quinn Pitcock had a career-high three sacks and narrowly missed two more. He finished the day with five tackles. With Pitcock leading the way, the Buckeyes recorded eight sacks, 10 tackles for loss and had three interceptions.

Sophomore linebacker James Laurinaitis led the Buckeyes with nine tackles, including a sack, and picked off his second interception of the year.

OHIO STATE 28, PENN STATE 6

No. 24 Penn State 0 3 0 3 6
No. 1 Ohio State 0 0 7 21 28

Ohio State opened its Big Ten season with a 28-6 win over visiting Penn State. In winning their third straight conference home opener, the Buckeyes needed a pair of fourth-quarter interception returns for touchdowns to salt the game away.

Holding on to a less-than-comfortable 14-6 lead, the Buckeyes got a lift from cornerback Malcolm Jenkins whose 61-yard return gave them a 21-6 lead with 2:31 to play. Moments later cornerback Antonio Smith picked off his first career interception and returned it 55 yards to the north end zone and the game was officially over.

The Buckeyes also had an interception earlier in the game by linebacker James Laurinaitis, giving them eight on the year to that point, three more than all of last year. The OSU defense limited Penn State to 248 yards and allowed the Nittany Lions to convert just three of 14 third-down opportunities.

Ohio State’s other two touchdowns came on a 12-yard run by Antonio Pittman, who finished the game with 110 yards, and a 37-yard pass from Troy Smith to Brian Robiskie. The former gave the Buckeyes their first lead at 7-3 after the Nittany Lions had taken a 3-0 lead into the locker room at intermission. On the latter, Smith rolled to his right, reversed his field and somehow threw a perfect strike to Robiskie, giving the Buckeyes a 14-3 lead.

The two teams combined for just 501 yards in total offense on a rainy, windy afternoon in Ohio Stadium.

OHIO STATE 38, IOWA 17

No. 1 Ohio State 7 14 7 10 38
No. 13 Iowa 3 7 0 7 17

Led by senior quarterback Troy Smith’s career-high four touchdown passes and a spirited defense that came up with four takeaways, top-ranked Ohio State downed No. 13 Iowa, 38-17, in Iowa City, knocking the Hawkeyes from the unbeaten ranks in front of a highly-partisan Kinnick Stadium crowd of 70,585.

With the win, Ohio State improved to 5-0 on the year and 2-0 in Big Ten play. It was the Buckeyes third win of the year over a Top 25 team (No. 2 Texas and No. 24 Penn State were the other two) and their second win in prime time on the road and on national TV.

Smith, who ran his record as a starter to 18-2, put the Buckeyes ahead to stay with a 12-yard pass to split end Anthony Gonzalez with 11:34 to play in the first quarter.

The senior signal caller added a 6-yard strike to Roy Hall in the second quarter, teamed up again with Gonzalez from 30 yards out in the third period and capped off the scoring with a 12-yard toss to Brian Robiskie with 4:23 to play in the fourth. In addition to completing 16 of 25 passes for 186 yards and the four TD tosses, Smith also rushed for 20 yards in another near flawless performance at the OSU helm.

Gonzalez was on the receiving end of five of those passes, all going for first downs. On his 30-yard touchdown grab, Gonzalez had the first down, but then reversed his field and circled around right end and somehow tight roped down the sideline and into the end zone on one of the more spectacular plays of the season. Ted Ginn Jr. led all receivers with seven receptions for 69 yards.

Tailback Antonio Pittman rushed 25 times for 117 yards and a touchdown, while freshman Chris “Beanie” Wells added 78 yards for the Buckeyes who rolled up a season-high 214 yards on the ground.

The OSU defense, meanwhile, recorded three interceptions and a fumble recovery to keep the Iowa offense in check.

Safety Brandon Mitchell played a role in two of those takeaways, snagging a second quarter interception that led to Pittman’s touchdown and recovering a fourth-quarter fumble that halted an Iowa drive.

Linebackers Marcus Freeman and James Laurinaitis also had interceptions, both of those coming in the fourth quarter as Iowa turned the ball over on its final three possessions of the night.

The OSU defense also recorded five tackles-for-loss, including sacks by Freeman and Laurinaitis, and limited Iowa to 87 yards on the ground.

OHIO STATE 35, BOWLING GREEN 7

Bowling Green 0 0 7 0 7
No. 1 Ohio State 14 7 0 14 35

Troy Smith threw for three touchdowns, Antonio Pittman ran for two and Ted Ginn Jr. caught a career-high 10 passes as Ohio State downed visiting Bowling Green, 35-7, Oct. 7 in Ohio Stadium.

The Ohio State defense recorded its 13th takeaway of the year and held its opponent to seven points or less for the fourth time in six outings.

In addition to 13-consecutive wins, Jim Tressel’s team also has won nine straight in Ohio Stadium.

Smith completed 17 of 20 passes for 191 yards, including touchdown strikes to Rory Nicol, Ted Ginn Jr. and Ray Small. It was Nicol’s first touchdown catch of the year and Small’s first as a collegian. Ginn’s score covered 57 yards and was the longest play of the day.

Pittman carried the ball just 13 times, but scored on a pair of 8-yard runs to equal his entire touchdown output of a year ago (seven).

Defensive tackle Vernon Gholston picked off his first career interception and had two tackles-for-loss and a sack. He is the team leader in tackles-for-loss with nine. His interception and 8-yard return gives the Buckeyes an interception in every game this year.

Malcolm Jenkins and James Laurinaitis paced the Buckeyes in tackles with nine. Jenkins had six solos to lead both teams. Laurinaitis now has a team-high 50 tackles on the year.

OHIO STATE 38, MICHIGAN STATE 7

No. 1 Ohio State 7 17 7 7 38
Michigan State 0 0 0 7 7

The Buckeyes ran their road record to 3-0 with their methodical 38-7 dismantling of Michigan State. Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes have won their last six road games, five of which have been Big Ten contests. In their three road games this year, the Buckeyes have outscored Texas, Iowa and Michigan State by a combined total of 100 to 31 and have never trailed.

At Michigan State, the Buckeyes marched 80 yards in 12 plays on their second possession of the game for a quick 7-0 lead and never looked back. Tailback Antonio Pittman put Ohio State ahead to stay with a 2-yard run, giving him at least one rushing touchdown in 12 consecutive games. Troy Smith’s 37-yard completion to Ted Ginn Jr. set up the score.

The Buckeyes added 17 points in the second quarter on a 32-yard field goal by Aaron Pettrey, a 60-yard punt return by Ginn and a 12-yard Smith-to-Anthony Gonzalez pass. The latter was set up by a Marcus Freeman interception that gave Ohio State the ball on the MSU 29 with 2:27 to play in the first half.

Smith also connected with Brian Robiskie from seven yards out in the third quarter. Freshman Chris “Beanie” Wells wrapped up the scoring on a five-yard run at the start of the fourth quarter giving the Buckeyes a commanding 38-0 lead.

The Buckeyes rolled up 421 yards in total offense against the Spartans. Michigan State, conversely, managed just 198 yards against the Buckeyes’ defense, including just 63 yards on the ground.

Led by senior tackle Quinn Pitcock, the Buckeyes recorded 10 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks against the Spartans. Pitcock had two sacks, while defensive end Jay Richardson and linebacker James Laurinaitis each had two tackles-for-loss. Laurinaitis led the Buckeyes in tackles with nine, the sixth time this year that he has paced the team.

Freeman’s interception was the Buckeyes’ 13th of the year, giving Ohio State at least one interception in every game this year.

OHIO STATE 44, INDIANA 3

Indiana 3 0 0 0 3
No. 1 Ohio State 7 21 10 6 44

Ohio State staked Indiana to an early 3-0 lead then rolled up 44 unanswered points on the way to their 14th-consecutive victory over the Hoosiers. The 44 points were the most scored by the Buckeyes this season and the most since a 48-point effort against Northwestern in Game 10 last year. The three points by the Hoosiers were the fewest this year by an opponent and marked the sixth time this season the defense has held an opponent to seven points or less.

Led by quarterback Troy Smith and running back Antonio Pittman, the Buckeyes rolled up a season-high 540 yards in total offense – 270 rushing and the same number passing against the IU defense.

Smith completed 15 of 23 passes, including 15 of his last 19, for 220 yards and four touchdown passes. Pittman ran for 105 yards on 16 carries and received ample support from backups Chris Wells and Maurice Wells, each of whom rushed for 62 yards. Chris Wells scored the Buckeyes’ lone rushing touchdown of the day on a 12-yard run.

Ted Ginn Jr. led the OSU receiving corps with five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Ginn also threw a 38-yard touchdown pass, the first completion of his career. Tight end Rory Nicol had his first two-touchdown day, catching a 23-yard score from Smith and a 38-yard bullet from Ginn. Freshman tight end Jake Ballard also got in on the act with a 1-yard TD reception from Smith.

“When a senior quarterback throws it to a freshman you better catch it,” Ballard who made a diving grab of Smith’s perfectly thrown toss, said.

Aaron Pettrey added a career-long 51-yard field goal to the OSU cause.

The Ohio State defense recorded 10 tackles-for-loss, including four sacks, and held Indiana to just 7 yards rushing. Senior cornerback Antonio Smith had a career-high 12 tackles, including four tackles-for-loss and a sack. Senior defensive end Jay Richardson had a pair of sacks and cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and safety Andre Amos each had interceptions, giving the Buckeyes at least one interception in every game this year.

OHIO STATE 44, MINNESOTA 0

Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0
No. 1 Ohio State 10 7 13 14 44

Ohio State recorded its first shutout of the year and first since the 2003 season with a 44-0 win over Minnesota Oct. 28. The Buckeye defense, which extended its streak of not allowing a touchdown to eight consecutive quarters, limited the Gophers to 182 total yards, including just 47 yards rushing. The OSU offense equaled its season high in points and rolled up 484 yards. The Buckeyes converted 7-of-10 first-down opportunities and were 5-of-6 in the red zone, all touchdowns.

Troy Smith completed 14 of 21 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown and also ran for his first score of the season on a 21-yard run. Antonio Pittman rushed for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns and freshman Beanie Wells added 90 yards on the ground.

Linebacker James Laurinaitis once again paced the team in tackles with 11. The Buckeye played the game without defensive tackle and co-captain Quinn Pitcock who suffered a concussion the week before against Indiana.

OHIO STATE 17, ILLINOIS 10

No. 1 Ohio State 7 10 0 0 17
Illinois 0 0 0 10 10

Ohio State recorded its 10th victory of the year at Illinois, but not without a struggle. After jumping out to a 17-0 lead at the half behind rushing touchdowns by Chris Wells and Antonio Pittman and a 50-yard field goal by Aaron Pettrey, the Buckeyes were taken to the wire before finally emerging with a 17-10 win.

Smith completed 13 of 23 passes for 108 yards, but was intercepted for just the third time this year and was sacked three times. He also rushed for 37 tough yards.

Ted Ginn Jr. hauled in five receptions and Antonio Pittman had three catches for the Buckeyes who had 195 yards of offense at the half, but just 29 after intermission.

The Ohio State defense responded by holding the Illini to 233 yards, including just 99 on the ground. The Illini had been averaging 181 yards per game rushing, second in the Big Ten.

The Buckeyes also picked up two more takeaways, giving them 22 on the year, including 19 interceptions. James Laurinaitis had the pick, his fifth of the year. Ohio State now has at least one interception in every game this year. The OSU offense has converted those takeaways into 93 points. Ohio State’s first 10 opponents have no points off Ohio State’s 11 giveaways.

ABOUT THE WOLVERINES
Like Ohio State, Michigan enters the game with an unblemished 11-0 record and carries a No. 2 national ranking after beating Indiana 34-3 last weekend in Bloomington. The Wolverines claimed non-conference wins against Vanderbilt, Central Michigan, Ball State and a road victory at Notre Dame. Conference wins have come against Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, Northwestern and Indiana.

Offensively, Michigan is averaging 29.4 points and 372.9 yards per game. The Wolverines are 12th nationally in rushing offense, averaging 194.5 yards per game. Michael Hart is sixth nationally with an average of 124.8 yards per game. The junior running back has 278 carries for 1,373 yards and 11 of the team’s 18 touchdowns. The other seven rushing TDs have come from Brandon Minor, Jerome Jackson and Kevin Grady. Chad Henne is completing 61.9 percent of his passes (156-of-252) for 1,932 yards and 18 scores. Steve Breaston has 48 receptions for 537 yards and scored his first touchdown last week at Indiana. Adrian Arrington has six touchdowns, while Mario Manningham has caught nine TD passes.

On defense, the Wolverines are holding opponents to an average of 12.1 points and 231.5 yards per game. Michigan is the best in the nation against the run, allowing 29.9 yards per game, and is third nationally in total defense, surrendering 231.5 yards per game. Its 12.1 points allowed per game is the fifth best total in Division I. The team has 41 sacks on the year and its 3.64 per game average is second best nationally. David Harris is the team’s leading tackler with 82 stops, including 14 behind the line of scrimmage. He also has four sacks and one interception. LaMarr Woodley leads the team with 15.5 tackles-for-loss and 11 sacks. He also has forced four fumbles and has recovered three.

Garrett Rivas has made 15 of his 18 field goal tries, hitting a long of 48 yards in the season opener against Vanderbilt. He has made 37 of 39 PATs.

MICHIGAN’S LAST GAME
Steve Breaston caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne and broke loose for an 83-yard punt return for another score to help lead Michigan to a 34-3 road win at Indiana last Saturday. Breaston finished the game with 231 yards on six touches, while Henne finished 11-for-15 for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Hart paced the rushing game with 92 yards and a score, while Jerome Jackson ran for 65 yards and a TD. The Wolverines allowed only 131 yards by the Hoosiers, including just 26 yards rushing. Michigan led 21-3 at the half and added 13 points in the third quarter.

HEAD COACH LLOYD CARR
Lloyd Carr (Northern Michigan, 1968) is in his 12th season as the Michigan head coach. In Ann Arbor, the 61-year-old coach owns a 112-34 record, including a 74-20 mark in the Big Ten. His teams have won 10 or more games five times, including 1997 when the team finished 12-0 and played in the Rose Bowl. His teams are 5-6 in bowl games. Prior to becoming the head coach for the Wolverines, he served the program for 15 years as an assistant coach, including the last eight years of that time as the defensive coordinator. He served his first seven years at Michigan as the defensive backs coach.