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Nov. 18, 2003

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Transcript of Press Luncheon
Windows A/V Press Luncheon
Player Quotes
Depth Chart
Top 25 Polls

FOR ALL THE MARBLES, AGAIN
Ohio State closes out the 2003 regular season Saturday at Michigan. The game will be televised nationally by ABC and will kickoff shortly after noon in Michigan Stadium, where a crowd of more than 110,000 will be on hand to witness the 100th game between the two gridiron behemoths.

Fourth-ranked Ohio State is coming off a 16-13 overtime win over Purdue and enters the game with a 10-1 record for all games and a 6-1 mark in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes, whose only loss was a 17-10 reversal at Wisconsin, are 5-1 against ranked teams this year, including a 2-0 mark against Top 10 teams.

This will be the fourth road trip of the year for the Buckeyes, who are 2-1 to date, all in Big Ten play. Michigan is 6-0 at home this year and has won eight in a row on its home field. The fifth-ranked Wolverines enter the game with a 9-2 mark and like the Buckeyes, are 6-1 in conference action. The Wolverines defeated Northwestern, 41-10, this past Saturday in Evanston.

Both teams enter the game with five-game winning streaks. The Buckeyes are ranked fourth in both polls, while the Wolverines, whose losses have come at the hands of Oregon and Iowa, are ranked fifth.

An Ohio State win would give the Buckeyes their first outright Big Ten title since 1984, when current head coach Jim Tressel was an assistant under Earle Bruce at OSU. An Ohio State victory would also assure the Buckeyes of a berth in the Rose Bowl – and possibly the national championship game at the Sugar Bowl, depending upon the outcome of the BCS rankings.

“Our focus now is a great Michigan team and the chance to be Big Ten champions,” Tressel said following the win over Purdue. “Our goal every year is to put ourselves in position to play for the Big Ten championship. We have a chance to do that if we can take care of business this week. But we will have our hands full against a great Michigan team that is playing very well right now.

“Clearly, this is the best team we have played this year. This is always a terrific, hard-fought, clean game, and I expect the same this year. That’s why this game is so big every year. It is two great teams from two great universities getting after each other.”

Ohio State is seeking its third-consecutive win over Michigan, and its second straight in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes have not won three in a row from the Wolverines since winning four straight between 1959 and 1962. The Buckeyes have won three in a row from the Wolverines on just two other occasions – 1919-21 and 1934-37.

Last year’s game also was for all the marbles, the Buckeyes earning a trip to the Tostitos Fiesta and the national championship game with a 14-9 victory.

This week’s game will be broadcast statewide by WBNS Radio, the flagship station for the Ohio State radio network.

SENIOR SENDOFF
The Buckeyes’ 16-13 overtime victory over Purdue on Saturday, allowed this year’s 26-member senior class to conclude its career in Ohio Stadium with a four-year record of 24-4, including perfect 8-0 marks each of the past two years. The class includes starters Craig Krenzel (QB), Michael Jenkins (SE), Ben Hartsock (TE), Shane Olivea (OT), Alex Stepanovich (OG) and Adrien Clarke (OG) on offense; Will Smith (DE), Darrion Scott (DT), Tim Anderson (DT), Robert Reynolds (LB), Fred Pagac (LB) and Will Allen (SS) on defense, and punter B.J. Sander. The overall record of this year’s class heading into Michigan is 39-10 and includes the 2002 Big Ten and national championships.

OHIO STATE LAST WEEK
The Buckeyes closed out the home season with a 16-13 overtime win over Purdue in Ohio Stadium, extending their home-field winning streak to 16 games, including a perfect 8-0 mark in 2003. It was the second overtime victory of the year for Coach Jim Tressel’s never-say-die squad.

A spectacular kicking game and a stellar defense fueled the victory.

Punter B.J. Sander was brilliant, punting 10 times and pinning Purdue inside its own 10-yard line on five of those kicks. Place kicker Mike Nugent connected on three field goals, including one of 52 yards at the end of the half and the game winner from 36 yards out in the overtime.

The OSU defense forced a pair of turnovers and scored the Buckeyes’ lone touchdown of the day.

The two teams were tied at 6-all at the half. Ohio State took its first lead with 11:23 to play in the fourth quarter when defensive aces Will Smith and Tim Anderson stripped Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton of the ball. The Buckeyes’ Mike Kudla recovered it in the end zone for a 13-6 OSU lead.

But Purdue tied it at 13-all on an eight-play, 92-yard drive with 4:36 to play and the game went to overtime.

After Nugent calmly split the uprights from 36 yards out, the Boilers missed a game-tying attempt from 37 yards away and the Buckeyes chalked up their 24th win in their last 25 starts.

Quarterback Craig Krenzel completed 15 of his 29 passes for 226 yards, with Michael Jenkins hauling in six receptions for 123 yards. Lydell Ross rushed for 79 yards for the Buckeyes who totaled 355 yards on the afternoon against the veteran Purdue defense.

Cornerback Dustin Fox had 10 tackles, including nine solos, for the Buckeyes and Robert Reynolds added eight stops. Defensive end Will Smith had 2.5 tackles for loss and one of the Buckeyes’ two sacks. The Buckeyes were credited with seven tackles-for-loss.

SANDER NAMED BIG TEN SPECIAL TEAMS CO-PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Ohio State punter B.J. Sander was named the Big Ten Special Teams Co-player of the Week after having a career day Saturday in the 16-13 win over Purdue. Sander, who punted 10 times for an average of 41.3 yards, landed seven of those punts within the Purdue 20-yard line, including five that pinned the Boilermakers inside the 10 and three that were downed inside the 5. It was the second time this season he has been honored for the weekly Big Ten honor, having been so-named after averaging 46.3 yards per punt at Penn State Nov. 1. For the year, Sander is averaging 42.9 yards on 66 punts including a long of 68 against San Diego State.

ABOUT THE BUCKEYES
Ohio State, which has won 24 of its last 25 games and 15 of its last 16 Big Ten contests, is No. 4 in both major polls and third in the latest BCS standings. The Buckeyes are the Big Ten’s highest-ranked team.

Coach Jim Tressel’s squad is 10-1 on the year and 6-1 in Big Ten play. The latter leaves them tied with Michigan for the conference lead with one game to play. The Buckeyes are 5-1 this year against ranked teams, including a 2-0 mark against Top 10 teams heading into Saturday’s showdown with No. 5 Michigan.

A victory Saturday would give the Buckeyes the outright Big Ten title, their first uncontested crown since 1984 and their 16th since joining the Big Ten conference in 1913. Currently Ohio State and Michigan each have a league-high 15 outright titles on their resumes.

The Buckeyes have gotten off to 10-1 with a stellar defense, an unerring kicking game and an offense that makes big plays when it has to.

Ohio State leads the nation in rushing defense, allowing an average of 50.55 yards per game. The Buckeyes also are sixth in both total defense and scoring defense, allowing 275.73 yards and 15.09 points per game. In the last four games, OSU has given up a total of 132 yards rushing.

Sophomore linebacker A.J. Hawk leads the Buckeyes in tackles with 88, including 11.5 tackles-for-loss. Cornerback Dustin Fox is second with 65, including 10 in the win over Purdue, and leads the team with passes broken up with eight. All-America end candidate Will Smith has 20 tackles-for-loss, a total that leads the Big Ten, and is second in the conference with 10.5 sacks.

Ohio State is fourth nationally in net punting with an average of 40.97 yards per game. In Saturday’s win over Purdue, senior punter B.J. Sander averaged 41.3 yards per punt on 10 kicks, dropping seven of those inside the 20-yard line, including five that came to rest inside the 10. It was one of the most memorable punting displays in Ohio State history. The Buckeyes also got three field goals from All-American Mike Nugent, including a 52-yard effort at the end of the first half and a 36-yard shot in overtime that turned out to be the game winner. Sander is currently averaging 42.9 yards per punt and Nugent has made 16-of-19 field goal attempts.

The Ohio State offense, meanwhile, rolled up 355 total yards against Purdue, turning in its fourth-consecutive solid effort. On the year, the Buckeyes are averaging 327.1 yards and 24.2 points per game. The former figure – which has been steadily inching up the thermometer the past four weeks – breaks down to 130.6 yards rushing and 196.5 yards passing per game. The Buckeyes have topped the 300-yard mark in total offense in each of the last four games.

Quarterback Craig Krenzel recorded his sixth 200-yard passing game of the year against Purdue with 226 yards and is now 23-2 as a starter. The 6-4 senior has completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,630 yards and nine touchdowns. Split end Michael Jenkins leads the Buckeyes in receiving with 41 catches for 601 yards and five of those TDs. Tight end Ben Hartsock has 31 receptions and flanker Santonio Holmes 22.

In the rushing department, tailback Lydell Ross has rushed for 722 yards and nine touchdowns. Ross had three-consecutive 100-yard games heading into Purdue and finished with 79 on 23 carries against the Boilers. Both his yardage total and number of touchdowns are career highs for the 220-pound junior.

DRIVE, DRIVE ON DOWN THE FIELD ….
In the last four games the Ohio State offense has demonstrated the ability to sustain long scoring drives, recording 10 marches of 60 or more yards. At Indiana, the Buckeyes had scoring drives of 79, 66 and 70 yards. At Penn State, they scored touchdowns on marches of 74, 80 and 72 yards, and in the win over Michigan State they went 60, 80 and 72 yards to paydirt. Against Purdue, the Buckeyes rolled up a very respectable 355 yards in total offense against one of the top defenses in the Big Ten and had a 79-yard drive.

“We need to score more points, but we are getting better on offense,” said head coach Jim Tressel.

BUCKEYES IN THE POLLS
For the second week in a row Ohio State holds down the No. 4 spot in both the ESPN/USA Today and the Associated Press polls. The Buckeyes were third in last week’s BCS rankings. OSU is 5-1 against ranked teams this year (2-0 against Top 10 teams) and 10-1 since the beginning of the 2002 campaign. The Buckeyes’ highest ranking this year was second (they opened the season in the No. 2 spot).

COACH Jim Tressel
Jim Tressel is in his third year as head coach at Ohio State. His record with the Buckeyes is a glittering 31-6 for all games and 19-4 in Big Ten play and includes a Big Ten co-championship and a consensus national title, both last year. He is 20-2 in games played in Ohio Stadium and 13-3 against teams ranked in the Top 25. He currently has the Buckeyes ranked No. 4 nationally and 10-1 on the year, tied with Michigan for the Big Ten lead at 6-1.

After guiding the Buckeyes to the summit of college football in 2002 with a perfect 14-0 record, the 50-year-old Tressel was named National Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America, the American Football Coaches Association and The Sporting News. He also received the Bobby Dodd and Paul “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year awards and was honored by the Pigskin Club of Washington D.C. and the Columbus Touchdown Club.

Tressel, who prior to coming to Ohio State spent 15 years as the head coach at Youngstown State where his teams won four Division 1-AA national championships, has an overall record of 166-63-2 as a head coach. With a 35-6 win at Indiana, he went 100 games over the .500 mark.

Tressel is just the fourth coach to lead Ohio State to an unbeaten, untied season, joining John Wilce in 1916 (7-0), Carroll Widdoes in 1944 (9-0) and Woody Hayes in 1954 (10-0) and 1968 (10-0). With five wins to start the 2003 season, Tressel directed the Buckeyes to 19 consecutive wins, the second longest winning streak in school history. Heading into this week’s game with Michigan, the Buckeyes have won 24 of their last 25 starts.

This is Tressel’s second stop at Ohio State. He was an assistant coach under Earle Bruce from 1983 to 1985, serving as quarterbacks and receivers coach the first year before taking on the added responsibility of the running backs the next two years. During those three years, the Buckeyes played in the Fiesta, Rose and Citrus bowls and posted a combined record of 27-9.

Tressel is the son of the late Lee Tressel, a coaching legend at Baldwin-Wallace College in northern Ohio. His brother, Dick Tressel, who currently serves on the Ohio State football operations staff, is also a former head coach, spending 22 years at Hamline University in suburban Minneapolis. As a family, the Tressels have won 445 games. Jim’s nephew, Mike Tressel (Dick’s son), is a graduate assistant for the Buckeyes.

OSU JUST FINDS A WAY TO WIN
In Coach Jim Tressel’s three seasons at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have demonstrated an ability to win the close ones, including four overtime decisions. In 2001, Tressel’s first year at Ohio State, the Buckeyes won two games by a touchdown or less (Minnesota and Michigan). In posting a perfect 14-0 record in 2002, the Buckeyes won seven games by that same margin, including overtime wins at Illinois and in the national championship game. So far this year, the Buckeyes are 5-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less, giving them an overall record of 14-5 in nail-biters under Tressel.

A RIVALRY FOR ALL-TIME
This is game No. 100 between Michigan and Ohio State in a rivalry that was first contested in 1897 and has been continuous since 1918.

While Michigan has a 56-37-6 lead in all games and a 29-17-4 edge in games played in Ann Arbor, the series, which was voted the greatest rivalry of the 20th century in a fan poll conducted by ESPN.com, is deadlocked at 25-25-2 since 1951 and Ohio State is 11-14-1 in Ann Arbor during that 52-year period.

This will be the 69th-consecutive season that the two teams have concluded their Big Ten seasons against one another, dating back to 1935.

The Buckeyes have won the last two games in the series – 14-9 last year in Columbus and 26-20 in 2001 in Ann Arbor. OSU has not won three in a row from Michigan since a four-game winning streak between 1959 and 1962. The only other three-game winning streaks by the Buckeyes in the series came between 1918 and ’21 and from 1934 to 1937.

Last year’s game was one of the classic gems in the series. With a Big Ten title and a berth in the national championship game on the line, the Buckeyes overcame a late 9-7 Michigan lead and pulled out a dramatic 14-9 victory. Tailback Maurice Hall scored the winning touchdown, tallying on a 5-yard option play with 4:55 to play.

The Buckeyes’ defense then withstood two furious drives by the Wolverines, the game ending when nickel back Will Allen intercepted a pass at the 2-yard line with on the final play of the game.

Five of the last seven games in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less. Each of the last two have ended with the Buckeyes making interceptions to end Michigan drives.

In 1969, the Wolverines ended the Buckeyes’ 22-game winning streak with a 24-12 upset of the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes, one of just two losses suffered by Ohio State’s “super sophs” of 1968. That game is generally considered the biggest win of the series by the Wolverines.

Between 1972 and 1975, the Buckeyes posted a 3-0-1 record against Michigan and played in a still unprecedented four-consecutive Rose Bowls. In 1973, after a 10-all tie in Ann Arbor, the Big Ten athletics directors voted to send Ohio State to the Rose Bowl (the two teams were tied in the conference standings), enabling the Buckeyes to become the first Big Ten school to make back-to-back appearances in Pasadena.

THE WILL TO WIN
Ohio State senior quarterback Craig Krenzel is 23-2 as a starter with the Buckeyes, including a 16-1 mark in Big Ten play. Krenzel’s first start came in 2001 at Michigan, a game won by the Buckeyes, 26-20. After a 31-28 loss in the Outback Bowl in which he played only briefly, the 6-4 native of Sterling Heights, Mich., directed the Buckeyes to a perfect 14-0 record and the national championship in 2002. He is 8-1 as a starter this year (he missed two games with a sore elbow), the lone loss coming at Wisconsin the week after he returned to action.

“All Craig Krenzel does is win,” ABC analyst Bob Griese said during Saturday’s broadcast of the Purdue game. “What more could you ask?”

BUCKEYES SMITH ENJOYING ALL-AMERICAN YEAR
Senior co-captian Will Smith, recently named as one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Award as the top defensive end in college football, is having an All-American year. The 6-4, 265-pound Smith has 46 tackles on the year and leads the Buckeyes in tackles-for-loss with 20 and sacks with 10.5. He leads the Big Ten in tackles-for-loss and is second in sacks.

Smith, who is in his third year as a starter, has 13 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks in his last six games. With 46.5 career tackles-for-loss and 23 career sacks, the Utica, N.Y. senior ranks fifth and fourth, respectively, in the OSU records book in those categories.

The winner of the Hendricks Award will be announced in January.

HEALTHY ROSS GETS GROUND GAME BACK ON TRACK
Junior tailback Lydell Ross, slowed by injuries the first half of the year, has gotten back on track the past four weeks, rushing for 481 yards and four touchdowns on 94 carries. That’s an average of 5.1 yards per carry for the 220-pound Ross, who has carried the ball 91 times the past three weeks. With a healthy Ross taking the majority of the handoffs, the Buckeyes have rushed for 216, 153, 182 and 125 yards the past four weeks.

On the season, Ross has established personal highs in rushing attempts (164), rushing yards (722) and touchdowns rushing (9). Prior to Purdue, he had recorded three-consecutive 100-yard games, including a personal high of 167 yards at Indiana. During his career, Ross has rushed for 1,760 yards and 22 touchdowns.

HOLMES COMES UP BIG AGAIN
As has been the case since he took over for injured Drew Carter (season ending knee injury) midway through the Indiana game, redshirt freshman Santonio Holmes continues to play a major role in the Buckeyes’ success. In Saturday’s win over Purdue, the elusive Holmes had six receptions for 57 yards, including a clutch 27-yard fourth-quarter grab. Holmes, who prepped at Glades Central High School in Belle Glade, Fla., has 19 catches for 339 yards and three touchdowns in the last four games. On the year, the 5-11 speedster has 22 receptions and is averaging 17.8 yards per catch.

BUCKEYES’ HARTSOCK DOING IT ALL
Senior tight end Ben Hartsock – long renowned by the OSU coaching staff because of his blocking ability – is having his best year as a receiver. The 6-4, 264-pound Hartsock currently ranks as the Buckeyes’ second-leading receiver with 31 receptions for 277 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Both are personal highs for Hartsock, who entered the season with 25 career receptions. Hartsock has 22 catches in Big Ten action, including three games (Northwestern, Wisconsin and Penn State) with five receptions. His personal high this year is seven receptions in a 44-38 triple-overtime thriller against North Carolina State. He has caught passes in 10 of OSU’s 11 games (all but San Diego State).

Hartsock has been selected by the Ohio State coaching staff as the offensive lineman of the week on four different occasions this year. He was the offensive player of the game following the Buckeyes’ 20-0 win over Northwestern and most recently in the win over Michigan State.

Ohio State mentor Jim Tressel calls his stellar tight end “the best blocking tight end in college football.”

BUCKEYE AWARD CANDIDATES
Quarterback Craig Krenzel, the Buckeyes’ co-MVP last year and the offensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl, is 23-2 as a starter. He has six 200-yard passing games this year, including 273 yards in OSU’s triple-overtime win over North Carolina State, 272 yards at Indiana and 226 yards against Purdue this past Saturday. In the win over N.C. State, he threw touchdown passes in each of the three overtime periods – and did it with a sore throwing arm that subsequently forced him to miss two games. In the Buckeyes 33-23 win over Michigan State two weeks ago, Krenzel completed 12-of-23 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns. In his last two games, Krenzel is 27 of 52 for 439 yards and three touchdowns. A molecular genetics major, he recently was named winner of a National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Scholarship and is a nominee for the NCAA’s prestigious Top VIII Award. He also was named to the CoSIDA District IV All-Academic team and will now be on the national ballot for Academic All-America honors.

Split end Michael Jenkins is one of the nation’s top receivers. The 6-5 senior had a six receptions for 123 yards in Saturday’ win over Purdue and currently paces the Buckeye in receptions (41) receiving yardage (606) and touchdown receptions (5). He has caught passes in 37-consecutive games and is the fourth leading receiver in Ohio State history both in number of catches (151) and receiving yards (2,670). Jenkins, who had seven receptions for 124 yards and the winning TD against North Carolina State earlier this year, also returns punts and had a 54-yard TD runback against Iowa. It was his first punt return of the year.

Junior Chris Gamble started on both sides of the ball against Penn State, Michigan State and Purdue getting the nod at cornerback and flanker. He had two receptions and a tackle in the former and one reception and five tackles in the latter. In the win over Purdue this past Saturday, he had four tackles. One of the best all-around players in college football, Gamble also returns kickoffs and is on the punt return team. The 6-3 Gamble is considered the top “shutdown corner” in college football.

All-America Mike Nugent has kicks of 47, 53, 42, 44, 42 and 52 yards to his credit this year. The Buckeye junior has connected on 16 of 19 attempts, including seven of his last eight with that one miss being blocked. His 53-yard conversion against Iowa was the second longest in Ohio Stadium history by a Buckeye and his 52-yarder against Purdue was third best in stadium annals. In the win over Michigan State, he hit a personal-best four field goals.

The Buckeyes also boast three of the top defensive linemen in the nation in seniors Will Smith, Darrion Scott and Tim Anderson. Smith is one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks defensive end award. The agile, 6-4, 265-pound Smith has 20.0 tackles-for-loss, 10.5 sacks and 46 total tackles on the year. He has 13 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks in his last six games.

Four BUCKEYES ON ALL-ACADEMIC TEAM
Three Ohio State players – quarterback Craig Krenzel, tailback Maurice Hall and cornerback Dustin Fox – have been named to the CoSIDA District IV All-Academic Team and will now be on the ballot for Academic All-American. In order to be eligible for consideration, a player must have a GPA of 3.2 or better on a 4.0 scale, be at least a sophomore in terms of eligibility and be a starter or significant reserve. A fourth Buckeye, tight end Ben Hartsock, was named to a second-team berth.

CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Quarterback Craig Krenzel ranks eighth in career passing yards at Ohio State with 4,083. Jim Karsatos (1984-86) is in seventh place with 5,089 yards.

Krenzel also ranks ninth in career total offense at OSU with 4,647 yards. With 265 yards against Purdue, Krenzel moved around former Ohio State quarterback Cornelius Greene (4,414 yards between 1972 and 1975) this past weekend. Karsatos is eighth with 5,261 yards.

Split end Michael Jenkins is fourth in both career receptions (151) and career receiving yards (2,670) at OSU. Jenkins needs four receptions and 56 yards to move into third place on the OSU career lists, surpassing Gary Williams (154 receptions between 1979 and 1982) and Cris Carter (2,725 yards between 1984 and 1986), respectively.

Kicker Mike Nugent has 48 career field goals. The school record of 59 belongs to Dan Stultz (1996-2000). Tim Williams had 49 during his career (1990-93). Nugent has made 48-of-61 attempts and ranks first in career percentage with a fanciful .786 figure.

OHIO STADIUM ATTENDANCE MARKS Set This Year
In eight home games this year, the Buckeyes drew a total of 838,963 fans for an average of 104,870 per game. Both figures represent single-season records in Ohio Stadium, breaking the old marks of 827,904 and 103,488 set last year. This year’s crowds included 105,286 against Purdue and 105,194 against Michigan State, the second and third largest crowds in the stadium’s history.

OHIO STATE IN THE RECORDS BOOK
Ohio State set an NCAA Division 1-A record in 2002 with 14 wins. In doing so, the Buckeyes recorded their fifth unbeaten, untied season (1916, 1944, 1954 and 1968 previously) and claimed their seventh national championship (1942, 1954, 1957, 1961, 1968 and 1970).

BUCKEYES ALL-TIME WIN TOTAL NOW 756
With the victory over visiting Purdue this past Saturday, the Buckeyes, who first fielded a team in 1890 and are now in their 114th season of gridiron play, have an all-time record of 756-293-53. That is a wining percentage of .710 for the Scarlet and Gray who played game No. 1,100 at Penn State.

THE BUCKEYES IN BIG TEN PLAY
Ohio State began Big Ten play in 1913. With this year’s 6-1 start, the Buckeyes currently have an all-time conference record of 414-156-24 (.717) and have either won outright or shared 29 Big Ten titles. The Buckeyes were a perfect 8-0 last year in conference play and shared the league title with Iowa. Ohio State’s last outright crown was in 1984 (6-2).

BUCKEYES AT HOME IN OHIO STADIUM
With an 8-0 slate in 2002, Buckeyes have an all-time record of 350-101-20 (.764) in Ohio Stadium since the giant Horseshoe was opened in 1922. Ohio State has won 16 in a row in the Horseshoe, last losing to Illinois in the final home game of the 2001 season.

2003 OSU CAPTAINS
Quarterback Craig Krenzel, split end Michael Jenkins, defensive end Will Smith and defensive tackle Tim Anderson are the Ohio State captains this year. The four seniors were selected by a vote of their teammates.

GETTING THEIR FEET WET EARLY
Five true freshmen have seen action in the Buckeyes’ first nine games – tailback Ira Guilford, tight end Louis Irizarry, defensive backs Donte Whitner and Ashton Youboty and defensive tackle David Patterson.

GAME ONE RECAP
OHIO STATE 28, WASHINGTON 9
Playing on national television and led by heady quarterback Craig Krenzel and an unrelenting defense that proved mature beyond its youth at linebacker and safety, the Buckeyes easily dispatched visiting Washington 28-9 in their season opener. Krenzel, who took control of the game from the outset, was only slightly short of sensational in running his record to 16-1 as a starter. His 37-yard strike to flanker Drew Carter set up Ohio State’s first touchdown, a 2-yard run by junior tailback Maurice Hall with 8:31 to play in the first quarter. The senior signal caller made it 14-0 with a 23-yard scramble around left end with 2:51 to play in the first stanza and 21-0 with an 11-yard scramble, this time to the right side, with 11 seconds left in the half. The latter play came on third down and took the bark out of the Huskies. Krenzel threw for 203 yards (his third career 200-yard game) and ran for 27 more in what has become typical of his stellar play. Six of his 15 completions went to senior split end and fellow co-captain Michael Jenkins. Junior tailback Lydell Ross accounted for OSU’ other score, a 15-yard power burst off tackle with 6:06 remaining in the third quarter. In addition to their two touchdowns, Hall and Ross combined for 101 yards rushing.

The Ohio State defense, meanwhile, picked up where it left off a year ago, limiting the Huskiesto nine points and 262 total yards, including just 7 on the ground. Washington quarterback Cody Pickett completed 26-of-49 passes for 255 yards, but no touchdowns, and most of that yardage came in the second half after the outcome had been decided. Pickett had just 77 yards at halftime.

Junior Simon Fraser, starting his third game but first as a regular at defensive end, led the defense with seven tackles, including three for losses and a sack and was named Big Ten co-defensive player of the week. Sophomore linebacker A.J. Hawk also had seven tackles in his first start.

Junior All-America candidate Chris Gamble had four tackles and a pass broken up and effectively took Husky receiver Reggie Williams – who like Pickett was being mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate – out of the game.

GAME TWO RECAP
OHIO STATE 16, SAN DIEGO ST. 13
As was the case so many times last year in the Buckeyes’ championship run, the Ohio State defense was the difference in Ohio State’s 3-point win over San Diego State. On a day when the OSU offense could muster but 196 total yards and was held without a touchdown, the defense got the job done by coming up with four turnovers (two interceptions and two fumble recoveries) and holding the Aztecs to 216 total yards, including just 28 on the ground.

Will Allen’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown midway through the first quarter was THE PLAY of the day and turned out to be Ohio State’s only touchdown. Allen’s tally, the Buckeyes’ first defensive touchdown of the year, and three field goals by All-American Mike Nugent, were enough for the OSU defense, which allowed only a pair of field goals over the last three quarters. Allen’s interception, which was tipped by cornerback Chris Gamble, and subsequent coast-to-coast runback, was the longest interception return in Ohio Stadium history, breaking the old mark of 88 yards, set by Howard “Hopalong” Cassady against Wisconsin in 1954. San Diego State led 7-3 before Allen, who is in his first year as a starter, gave the Buckeyes the lead for good. In addition to his interception, Allen, a senior from Dayton, also forced a fumble and had six tackles.

Cornerback Dustin Fox led the defense with nine tackles, equaling his career high. Sophomore linebacker A.J. Hawk was in on seven tackles and had three tackles-for-loss and two sacks.

Junior tailback Maurice Hall led all rushers with 91 yards, including a career-long 33-yard jaunt. Hall had a career-high 19 carries and picked up crucial yardage late in the game when the Buckeyes were trying to maintain possession. Nugent made his first two field goals on the day, extending his record for consecutive field goals made in Ohio Stadium to 17, before missing a 28-yard attempt. Following that miss, he began a new streak by hitting from 35 yards out.

GAME THREE RECAP
OHIO STATE 44, N.C. STATE 38
Ohio State prevailed 44-38 in triple overtime, running its record to 3-0 and extending its unbeaten string to 17 games in a row. The game was every bit as exciting as the final score would indicate.

The Buckeyes jumped out to a 24-7 lead and seemed in control until turning the ball over with 9:26 to play. That started the ball rolling for North Carolina State, which scored 17-unanswered points to tie the score at 24 with 21 seconds left to play.

The two teams traded touchdowns in the first two overtimes, setting up a dramatic third extra session in which the Buckeyes scored a touchdown, missed the mandatory try for the two-point conversion, and then held on by stopping N.C. State on the half-yard line on fourth down.

In addition to being the first overtime game ever in Ohio Stadium, it was the longest game in Ohio State history, going four hours and 17 minutes from kickoff to the dramatic final play.

Quarterback Craig Krenzel again turned in a stellar performance, hitting 26-of-36 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns, all career highs. Three of those TD passes came in the overtime periods. Krenzel also ran for a touchdown and was the Buckeyes’ leading rusher with 37 yards on 13 carries. Krenzel completed 10 of his 12 aerials in the three overtime periods.

Split end Michael Jenkins and tight end Ben Hartsock each caught seven passes and flanker Drew Carter had six receptions. Jenkins had TD grabs of 44 and 7 yards, the latter in the third overtime on third-and-three. Hartsock had a career high in receptions and grabbed his first touchdown catch of the season in the first OT. Carter also had a career-best day as the OSU offense totaled 317 yards.

Linebacker A.J. Hawk led the OSU defense with a career-high 12 tackles, including two for losses, and had a 55-yard interception return that set up Mike Nugent’s 22-yard field goal.

Will Allen added nine tackles and recovered a fumble that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown run by Lydell Ross, giving Ohio State a 14-0 lead with 2:47 to play in the first quarter.

It was Hawk and Allen who teamed up on the final play of the game to preserve the Ohio State victory. With the Wolfpack knocking at the door on fourth-and-goal in the third overtime, Hawk banged heads with T.A. McClendon at the half-yard line. As the two dueled for position like a couple of sumo wrestlers, Allen rushed in and lowered the boom, sending McClendon to the turf just short of the goal line, allowing the 104,890 fans on hand to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

The OSU defense recorded four sacks, two each by tackles Tim Anderson and Darrion Scott.

The Buckeyes also received an outstanding effort from punter B.J. Sander, who averaged 49.4 yards per kick on five punts. Sander dropped four of those punts inside the N.C. State 20.

GAME FOUR RECAP
OHIO STATE 24, BOWLING GREEN 17
On a day when the Mid-American Conference was pulling off upset-after-upset, senior quarterback Scott McMullen filled in for injured regular Craig Krenzel and piloted Ohio State to a hard-fought 24-17 win over visiting Bowling Green.

McMullen got the Buckeyes on the board in the first quarter with a 7-yard touchdown strike to Drew Carter. McMullen, who was making just his second collegiate start and his first since 2001, completed 10 of his 16 pass attempts for 118 yards. One of those tosses, a 46-yarder over the middle to superstar split end Michael Jenkins, set up the Buckeyes’ final touchdown, a 3-yard run by Lydell Ross. It was the second TD of the day for Ross, who earlier scored on a 33-yard jaunt on fourth-and-one.

The Ohio State offensive line turned in its best performance since the season opener with Washington and, as a result, starting tailback Maurice Hall and Ross combined for 201 yards rushing, including a career-high 107 yards by Hall. Ross carried the ball 22 times and Hall 19.

The Buckeyes led 17-7 at the half and 24-7 in the fourth quarter before Bowling Green mounted a comeback and narrowed the deficit to 24-17. Suddenly the 104,358 fans in Ohio Stadium had visions of the triple-overtime win over North Carolina State in which the Wolfpack battled back from a 24-7 deficit to tie the score with 21 seconds left in the game. Senior safety Will Allen ended the comeback with an interception on the final play of the game.

Linebackers A.J. Hawk and Robert Reynolds and free safety Nate Salley led the Buckeyes in tackles with eight each, a career high for Salley. Hawk, Allen and cornerback Dustin Fox had interceptions for the Buckeyes, who also recorded five tackles-for-loss and four sacks.

The Falcons were held to 50 yards rushing.

GAME FIVE RECAP
OHIO STATE 20, NORTHWESTERN 0
After forcing Northwestern to punt on its first possession, Ohio State marched 59 yards in 10 plays to take a quick 7-0 lead. It marked the first time in the 2003 season that the Buckeyes had scored on their opening possession.

Junior tailback Lydell Ross put OSU on the board with a 12-yard run on which he was bottled up inside but bounced outside and raced untouched into the left corner of the north end zone. Quarterback Scott McMullen, making his second-consecutive start in place of injured regular Craig Krenzel, completed all four of his passes on the drive.

The Buckeyes also scored on their next possession, taking a 10-0 lead with 4:24 to play in the first quarter on a 32-yard field goal by All-American Mike Nugent. Linebacker Robert Reynolds’ fumble recovery gave OSU the ball on the Northwestern 46-yard line.

McMullen made it 17-0 on the opening possession of the second half by flipping a 1-yard scoring strike to tight end Ryan Hamby on third-and-goal. The Wildcats were bunched up in the middle in expectation of an inside power play. Hamby was all alone. The 80-yard march was the longest of the year to date for the Buckeyes.

Nugent completed the scoring with a 42-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter. McMullen and Drew Carter hooked up on a 19-yard pass on the five-play drive.

McMullen completed 16 of his 25 passes for a career-high 166 yards and the one touchdown. Jenkins finished with five catches and moved into fourth place on the all-time Ohio State receiving list. Tight end Ben Hartsock also had five receptions and turned in another impressive game from a blocking standpoint.

Lydell Ross rushed for 43 yards for the Buckeyes who outgained Northwestern 311 to 185 in total yards.

Led by sophomore linebacker A.J. Hawk’s career-high 13 tackles, the Buckeyes recorded eight tackles-for-loss and three sacks, never allowing the Wildcats, who crossed midfield on just two occasions, to mount a serious threat.

B.J. Sander averaged 44.6 yards per punt on five kicks and dropped three punts inside the 20.

GAME SIX RECAP
WISCONSIN 17, OHIO STATE 10
The host Badgers reversed a recent trend of visiting teams winning by upsetting the third-ranked Buckeyes, 17-10, in Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin scored first on a 2-yard run by Booker Stanley on the first play of the second quarter. Stanley’s run capped off a 13-play, 63-yard drive. Ohio State got on the board with 4:02 left in the half on a 24-yard field goal by Mike Nugent.

Wisconsin increased the lead to 10-3 on a 38-yard field goal by Mike Allen with 5:09 to play in the third period.

The Buckeyes tied the game with 6:09 to play on a 6-yard pass from Craig Krenzel to Michael Jenkins. Krenzel, back in action for the first time in three weeks after suffering an elbow injury against North Carolina State, marched the Buckeyes 75 yards in seven plays for the score. The drive included a 46-yard pass to flanker Drew Carter. Two plays later the Buckeyes scored and seemed to recapture the momentum.

But the Badgers yanked the rug out from under the Buckeyes on their next possession with a 79-yard scoring pass from Matt Schabert to Lee Evans, the longest play of the year against the Buckeyes. Evans’ only catch of the night gave the Badgers the win and ended the Buckeyes’ 19-game winning streak.

The Buckeyes wound up with 271 yards in total offense, while Wisconsin had 299. Krenzel completed 14 of his 26 passes for 202 yards, but the Buckeyes were held to 69 yards rushing. Senior center Alex Stepanovich saw his first action after sitting out three-and-a-half games with an ankle injury.

Punter B.J. Sander enjoyed another outstanding game, averaging 44.3 yards on seven punts. Linebacker A.J. Hawk continued his torrid play with 11 tackles, giving him 36 in the last three games.

GAME SEVEN RECAP
OHIO STATE 19, IOWA 10
In a classic defensive struggle between two of the Big Ten’s top defenses, Ohio State prevailed 19-10. Neither team scored an offensive touchdown. The Buckeyes, who were trying to get back on the winning track after a disappointing loss at Wisconsin, did so by scoring on a 53-yard field goal, a 54-yard punt return, a blocked punt and a safety. Iowa scored on a 36-yard field goal and a 5-yard run on a fake field goal.

The Buckeye defense, which came into the game leading the nation in rushing defense, held the Hawkeyes to 66 yards on the ground, including just 42 by talented tailback Fred Russell.

Iowa was equally stingy, limiting OSU to 56 yards rushing and 185 yards of total offense.

The difference in the game was the special teams, OSU scoring for the first time this year on either a punt return or a blocked punt. Michael Jenkins had the former, fielding the ball near midfield, slipping a tackle and racing into the end zone to give OSU a 10-0 lead. Ohio State had led 3-0 on a 53-yard field goal by Mike Nugent

Redshirt freshman Roy Hall blocked the punt for the Buckeyes, giving OSU a 17-3 lead midway through the third period. Hall came clean up the middle and blocked the ball at the goal line. Freshman Donte Whitner then fell on the loose ball in the end zone.

The Buckeyes picked up two more points on an errant shotgun snap that sailed through the end zone with 3:03 to play in the game.

Iowa got the ball back one more time, but Chris Gamble assured the Buckeyes of a win with an interception at the OSU 26-yard line.

In a game where offensive yards were hard to come by, senior receiver Drew Carter caught six passes for 95 yards to spark the Buckeyes’ aerial game. Carter led both teams in receptions.

The OSU defense was sparked by the play of end Will Smith and tackle Tim Anderson who combined for 4.5 tackles-for-loss and generally wreaked havoc all day long in the Iowa offensive backfield. Safety Will Allen and linebacker A.J. Hawk paced the Buckeyes with seven tackles each.

Punter B.J. Sander again turned in an exceptional performance, averaging 44.8 yards per kick and nailing a 62-yarder in the fourth quarter when the Buckeyes needed to pin the Hawkeyes deep in their own territory.

Nugent’s 53-yard field goal was the second longest in Ohio Stadium history by an OSU kicker and the fourth longest ever by a Buckeye.

GAME EIGHT RECAP
OHIO STATE 35, INDIANA 6
The Buckeyes lit up the scoreboard in Memorial Stadium, amassing season highs in rushing yards (216), passing yards (387), total offense (603) and first downs (26). The OSU defense, meanwhile, allowed Indiana 131 total yards and completely shut down the Hoosiers’ running game, limiting them to a minus 12 yards. The result was a decisive 35-6 Ohio State victory in front of 51,240 fans, many of which were clad in scarlet and gray.

Ohio State took control early, marching 78-yards with the opening drive that was capped off by an 11-yard scoring jaunt by junior tailback Lydell Ross. It was the first of three touchdowns on the day for Ross, who rushed for a career-high 167 yards on 23 carries and was over the 100-yard mark in the first quarter.

Quarterback Craig Krenzel completed 19-of-26 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown and redshirt freshman Santonio Holmes had a breakout game with six receptions for 153 yards a pair of touchdowns. Holmes first TD came with eight seconds left in the first half and gave the Buckeyes a 21-0 lead at intermission. Nickel back Donte Whitner, a true frosh, set up the score with his first career interception.

Holmes closed out the scoring on a 47-yard strike from back-up quarterback Scott McMullen, who completed all five of his pass attempts for 111 yards. The OSU defense was again led by menacing end Will Smith who recorded two of the Buckeyes’ six sacks, resulting in a loss of 18 yards. Sophomore linebacker A.J. Hawk had a team-high five tackles, including two tackles-for-loss. Freshman cornerback Ashton Youboty had his best day as a Buckeye with four tackles.

The Buckeyes led 35-0 before the Hoosiers scored.

GAME NINE RECAP
OHIO STATE 21, PENN STATE 20
The Buckeyes jumped off to a quick 7-0 start, scoring on their first drive behind the running of junior tailback Lydell Ross. Ross set the tone early by bolting 31 yards up the left sideline on the Buckeyes’ second play from scrimmage. He capped off the 14-play, 74-yard drive with a 1-yard run.

But the Nittany Lions took a 17-7 lead with just over four minutes to play in the first half and appeared to have momentum on their side heading into the locker room. Additionally, OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel suffered a mild concussion just before the half and would be ruled out for the rest of the game.

Enter quarterback Scott McMullen, like Krenzel a fifth-year senior.

With the Buckeyes’ Big Ten and national title hopes resting squarely on the slender shoulders of the 6-3 McMullen, the free-spirited signal caller directed the Buckeyes on a masterful 80-yard scoring drive to open the second half. A 4-yard McMullen to Michael Jenkins TD pass capped off the 12-play drive, which also included a 38-yard completion to flanker Santonio Holmes. The Buckeyes were back in the game.

Penn State upped its lead to 20-14 early in the fourth quarter on a 48-yard field goal by David Kimball that cleared the cross bar with room to spare.

That’s where it stood with 5:55 to play when the Buckeyes took over for the last time at their own 28-yard line. McMullen again answered the challenge, moving the Buckeyes to the Penn State 5-yard line with 1:39 to play. On the next play, the 11th play of the drive, he hit Jenkins on a fade route in the right corner of the end zone and the game was tied. Kicker Mike Nugent gave the Buckeyes the lead for good.

Penn State had one more chance, but Kimball was short and right from 60 yards away on what would have been the game winner.

The win was the Buckeyes first in State College since 1995, snapping a string of seven-consecutive victories by the home team.

McMullen completed 12-of-17 passes for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He hit all seven of his passes on the winning drive — two to Holmes, Hartsock and Jenkins and one to Ross. Holmes and Hartsock each had five catches.

Ross led the OSU ground attack with 110 yards on a career-high 24 carries, his second-consecutive 100-yard game. The Buckeyes had 301 yards in total offense and had scoring drives of 74, 80 and 72 yards.

The OSU defense recorded a season-best 10 tackles-for-loss, including three by All-America defensive end Will Smith. Cornerback Dustin Fox and safety Nate Salley each had nine tackles to pace the Buckeyes.

GAME 10 RECAP
Ohio State 33, Michigan State 23
Buoyed by the passing of quarterback Craig Krenzel and the running of tailback Lydell Ross on offense and a defense that almost inexplicably seems to get better each week, the Buckeyes downed visiting Michigan State 33-23 in front of 105,184 fans in Ohio Stadium – the second largest crowd in stadium history.

Krenzel, who sat out the second half of last week’s Penn State game with a mild concussion, was the one dishing out headaches on Saturday, completing 12-of-23 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the Spartans. The 6-4 signal caller hooked up with tight end Ben Hartsock and flanker Santonio Holmes on touchdown passes of 17 and 37 yards, respectively, as the Buckeyes built a 17-7 lead at halftime. He then opened the second half by directing an 80-yard march that concluded with a 2-yard scoring toss to tight end Ryan Hamby.

Ross keyed the ground game with 125 yards on 24 carries, all but 11 of those yards coming in the second half. It was the third consecutive 100-yard game for the 6-1, 225-pound junior.

All-America kicker Mike Nugent had an All-America day, connecting on all four of his field goal attempts, including a pair of three pointers in the fourth quarter to give OSU a little breathing room at 33-17 with 5:18 to play.

Ohio State had 395 yards in total offense against the 14th-ranked Spartans – 213 through the air and 182 on the ground.

The Ohio State defense was again spectacular, limiting the Spartans and quarterback Jeff Smoker to 378 total yards, including just 5 on the ground. Michigan State, which had 174 yards on its first three drives, had just 204 yards the rest of the way. The Spartans managed a scant 99 yards of total offense in the second half.

Linebacker Robert Reynolds had a team-high 10 tackles and A.J. Hawk, the Buckeyes’ leading tackler on the season, added seven. Defensive end Darrion Scott, rounding back into form after being sidelined with a sprained ankle, added a pair of sacks to the OSU cause.

Seven Buckeyes Selected For Big Ten Honors
Junior defensive end Simon Fraser, who led the Buckeyes in solo tackles against Washington with six, including three tackles-for-loss and a sack, was named as the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week following OSU’s win over the Huskies. Senior strong safety Will Allen was accorded the same honor following the San Diego State game in which he scored the Buckeyes’ lone touchdown on a 100-yard interception return, forced a fumble and was credited with six tackles. Senior quarterback Craig Krenzel was the Big Ten’s pick as co-Offensive Player of the Week following the win over North Carolina State in which Krenzel threw for four touchdowns, including three in the overtime sessions, and rushed for yet another score. Sophomore linebacker A.J. Hawk was the Co-Defensive Player of the Week after a career-high 13 tackles in the 20-0 win over Northwestern in the Buckeyes’ conference opener. Junior tailback Lydell Ross was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for a career-high 167 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Indiana. Ross, who carried the ball 23 times, also caught three passes for 33 yards. Punter B.J. Sander is the latest Buckeye to add his name to the list. Sander was named Special Teams Player of the Week after his six punts averaged more than 46 yards against the Nittany Lions. He also was selected as co-special teams player of the week after the Purdue game.

The Wolverines
Like the Buckeyes, Michigan is 6-1 in the Big Ten. The Wolverines are riding a five-game win streak – Minnesota, Illinois, Purdue, Michigan State and Northwestern – in which they have outscored opponents 193-82. The last loss was a 30-27 defeat at Iowa Oct. 4. Michigan, a perfect 6-0 at home this season, opened with three wins before dropping a 31-27 decision at Oregon, though it rebounded against Indiana before the Iowa defeat.

The Michigan offense is averaging 458.1 yards and 37.4 yards per game. Of the offense total, 188.0 yards comes on the ground, while 270.1 yards comes though the air. John Navarre has completed 222-of-378 passes (58.7 percent) for 2,782 yards and 21 touchdowns, while getting picked off eight times. He is averaging 252.9 yards passing, while hitting Braylon Edwards and Jason Avant. Edwards has 68 catches for 901 yards and 12 TDs and is averaging 81.9 receiving yards per game, while Avant has 42 grabs for 706 yards and a pair of scores while averaging 70.6 yards per game. Chris Perry, who has scored 15 times this season, has 284 carries for 1,435 yards, an average of 130.5 per game.

The Wolverine defense is allowing 279.1 yards and 15.5 points per game. Michigan allows 126.7 yards rushing and 152.4 yards passing per game, and has the best pass efficiency defense (88.98) in the Big Ten. The Wolverines have allowed only three passing touchdowns all year, compared to 13 rushing scores. The defense has intercepted 13 opponent passes and has sacked the opposing quarterback 24 times for 162 yards. Lawrence Reid leads Michigan with 69 tackles, including six tackles for loss. Pierre Woods and Grant Bowman each have 10 tackles for loss to lead the team, while Woods is the team leader with five sacks totaling 21 yards.

Michigan’s Last Game
Michigan scored on five of its seven possessions in the first half on its way to a 31-3 halftime lead and eventual 41-10 victory at Northwestern. John Navarre completed 22-of-31 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with Braylon Edwards on a 26-yard scoring strike and then found Jason Avant for a 22-yard TD, both in the second quarter. Michigan ran for 225 yards as Chris Perry carried the ball 25 times for 122 yards and two TDs, while catching five passes for an additional 50 yards of offense. The Wolverines yielded 117 yards rushing and 144 yards passing for 261 yards of total offense by Northwestern while forcing two fumbles with one interception. Michigan amassed 505 yards of total offense.

Coach Lloyd Carr
Lloyd Carr (Northern Michigan, 1968), who played for one season after serving as the backup quarterback at Missouri for three years, is in his ninth season as the Michigan head coach. In Ann Arbor, the 58-year-old coach owns an 85-25 record, including a 55-16 mark in the Big Ten. He guided the Wolverines to a perfect 12-0 record and Rose Bowl berth in 1997 and followed that up with two more 10-win seasons before going 9-3 in 2000 and 8-4 in 2001. Last year, the Wolverines finished 10-3 and beat Florida in the Outback Bowl. 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.

Final Press Luncheon
The final Jim Tressel media luncheon of 2003 will be held at 11:45 Tuesday, Nov. 25, at the Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe.