Aug. 25, 2003
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Second-ranked Buckeyes kickoff season Saturday in prime-time telecast
Defending national champion Ohio State, ranked second nationally in both major preseason polls, opens the 2003 football campaign Saturday by hosting the University of Washington. The Buckeyes and Huskies will square off at 8:06 p.m. (EDT) in just the sixth night game ever played in Ohio Stadium (cap. 101,568).
ABC will televise the game with Keith Jackson, Dan Fouts and Todd Harris describing the action for a national audience. This will be the Buckeyes’ eighth-consecutive appearance on ABC, a streak that began with last year’s win at Wisconsin.
Saturday’s game, which is a sellout, will be the season opener for both teams. The Buckeyes are coming off a perfect 14-0 season in which they defeated top-ranked Miami 31-24 in double overtime at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, wrestling the national title away from the defending champion Hurricanes. The Huskies were 7-6 a year ago, concluding their 2002 season with a 34-24 loss to Purdue in the Sun Bowl.
Coach Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes return 10 starters on offense and six on defense. The list of holdovers includes quarterback Craig Krenzel, who is 15-1 as a starter, standout split end Michael Jenkins, two-way sensation Chris Gamble and three of the top defensive linemen in all of college football in end Will Smith and tackles Darrion Scott and Tim Anderson. Additionally, All-America kicker Mike Nugent, who set nine OSU records last year, is back for his junior year.
The Huskies, under the direction of recently appointed head coach Keith Gilbertson, also have a veteran squad, returning eight starters on offense and seven on defense. Quarterback Cody Pickett, who threw for 4,458 yards and 28 touchdowns last year, is back, as are wide receiver Reggie Williams (94 receptions for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns) and running back Rich Alexis (202 carries, 688 yards and 10 TDs). Linebacker Marquis Cooper, who was credited with 100 tackles last year, is the Huskies’ leading returning tackler.
The Buckeyes enter the game with a 14-game winning streak, the longest current streak in college football.
This is Alumni Band weekend, with more than 700 former band members attending the game. The Alumni Band and the Ohio State Marching Band will perform a quadruple Script Ohio during the pregame ceremonies.
Washington Travel Information
The Huskies will arrive in Columbus at about 6 p.m. (EDT) Friday and are scheduled to hold a walk-through in Ohio Stadium at 7 p.m. The team will stay at the Hyatt on Capitol Square in Columbus.
National Media Flocks to Columbus For Opening Day
ESPN’s College GameDay will be in Columbus for the OSU-Washington tilt. Former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit and sidekicks Chris Fowler and Lee Corso will set up shop immediately south of St. John Arena and will begin their day-long coverage of college football at 11 a.m. (EDT) Saturday. Additionally, WBNS Radio, the flagship station for the Ohio State radio network, will carry the game throughout Ohio. Network programming begins one hour before kickoff. Paul Keels, Jim Lachey and Jim Karsatos are the WBNS announcers. WBNS also provides exclusive postgame comments from Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel following the final gun. The Sports USA Radio Network will broadcast the game nationally to the other 49 states outside Ohio with Larry Kahn and Gino Torretta wearing the headsets. Peter Brown of Sporting News Radio also will be in Columbus Friday, his nationally-syndicated show originating live from a location near campus.
The list of national newspapers covering the game includes USA Today, the Washington Post, the Denver Post, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
Buckeyes Lead Series With Huskies
This will be the 10th meeting between Ohio State and Washington since the series began in 1957. Ohio State has won six of the previous nine contests, including three of the four games played in Columbus. The two teams are meeting for the first time since 1995 – a 30-20 Ohio State win in Columbus. Washington’s last win over Ohio State was a 25-16 verdict in 1994 in Seattle, which was the Buckeyes’ last visit to the Pacific Northwest. The Huskies only victory in Columbus was in 1966, a 38-22 decision.
Top performances in the series include 212 yards rushing by Ohio State’s Eddie George in 1995 and 211 yards on the ground by Washington’s Napoleon Kaufman in 1994. Ohio State’s Billy Anders had 12 receptions in the 1966 loss to the Huskies.
Ohio State vs. The Pac-10 Conference
The Buckeyes have a 48-23-10 record against teams currently in the Pac-10 Conference. OSU has played a Pac-10 team each of the past four years and is 3-1 in that span.
How It Shapes Up On Paper
Washington comes to town with two of the premier offensive threats in college football in quarterback Cody Pickett and wide receiver Reggie Williams. With Pickett at the controls last year, the Huskies averaged 30.6 points and 420 yards a game, with 346 of those yards coming through the air. Ohio State returns six starters from one of the top defenses in the country. The Buckeyes allowed their 14 opponents an average of 13.1 points and 320 yards per game. On the flip side of things, the Husky defense must contend with a veteran Ohio State offense that returns 10 starters.
| Junior CB Dustin Fox leads
the returning Buckeyes from
2002 in both total tackles (84)
and pass break-ups (14).
Scouting the Huskies
Washington finished the 2002 season with a 7-6 record, keepingalive a streak of 26 non-losing seasons. That figure is thirdnationally behind Nebraska (41) and Michigan (35). Two ofWashington’s losses last season came at the hands of Big Ten teams.Michigan edged the Huskies 31-29 in the first game of the seasonand then Purdue dealt Washington a 34-24 loss in the Sun Bowl toend the season.
On offense, the Huskies return one of the game’s best quarterbacks in fifth-year senior Cody Pickett, who threw for 28 touchdowns and 4,458 yards. His favorite target is Reggie Williams, who led the Pac-10 with 94 catches for 1,454 yards and 11 scores. Williams averaged 111.8 yards per game. Leading ground gainer Rich Alexis also returns with his 688 yards from 2002. He averaged 62.5 yards per game last season. The Huskies averaged 420.7 yards of total offense last season, including 346.2 yards through the air.
The defense returns eight starters and 22 lettermen. The Huskies will have to replace three of the Top 6 tacklers from last season’s team. The defensive unit ranked 11th nationally against the run, allowing only 97.7 yards per game. That was their best total since winning the national championship in 1991. Senior linebacker Marquis Cooper was the team leader a year ago with 100 tackles, including 13 tackles-for-loss totaling 55 yards. He also had three sacks and recovered two fumbles. Junior cornerback Derrick Johnson picked off five passes for 56 yards and broke up another 10.
The Huskies return home next week for three-consecutive home games, including a matchup against Indiana next week.
Coach Keith Gilbertson
Keith Gilbertson is in his first season as the head coach at the University of Washington after taking over the reigns for Rick Neuheisel in late July. Gilbertson spent the last three season as the Huskies’ offensive coordinator. No stranger to the demands of head coaching, Gilbertson coached three seasons at Idaho (1986-88) and four seasons at California (1992-95). In those seven seasons, his teams accumulated a record of 48-37, a winning percentage of .565. This is his ninth year at Washington in his third stop with the Huskies. He was a graduate assistant coach in 1975 and then was an assistant from 1989-91 before returning to the Seattle school in 1999.
2003 Captains Named
Quarterback Craig Krenzel, split end Michael Jenkins, defensive end Will Smith and defensive tackle Tim Anderson will serve as captains of this year’s team. The four seniors, whose captaincies were announced Aug. 22, were selected by a vote of their teammates.
“We have an exceptional group of seniors,” said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. “The team has selected four outstanding young men to be their representatives, but we will look to all 24 of our seniors to provide leadership.”
The Buckeyes had six captains in 1982, including current running backs coach Tim Spencer.
This year’s captains will be recognized at the annual Captains’ Breakfast prior to the Iowa game Oct. 18.
Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel
Jim Tressel is in his third year as head coach at Ohio State. His record with the Buckeyes is a glittering 21-5 for all games and 13-3 in Big Ten play and includes a Big Ten co-championship and a consensus national title, both last year. He is 12-2 in games played in Ohio Stadium.
After guiding the Buckeyes to the summit of college football in 2002, 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 156-62-2 for a winning percentage of .714 as he enters the 2003 season.
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).
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. Some of Tressel’s more stellar students during those three seasons included Cris Carter, Mike Tomczak and Keith Byars.
Tressel is the son of former Baldwin-Wallace coach Lee Tressel. 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. As a family, the Tressel’s have won 435 games. Jim’s nephew, Mike Tressel (Dick’s son), is a graduate assistant for the Buckeyes.
| Senior center Alex Stepanovich
anchors an OSU offensive line
comprised of four seniors and
Scouting The 2003 Buckeyes
Ohio State returns 17 starters from last year’s championship team.The Buckeyes feature a balanced offense that has depth and talentat every position. The offensive line is stocked with veterans andthe receiving corps is one of the deepest in school history. Withquarterback Craig Krenzel now in his second season at the controls,the offense should be even more productive this year. TailbackMaurice Clarett will not be available this week, but the Buckeyeshave a talented pair to draw on in juniors Maurice Hall and LydellRoss.
The defense has lost five starters to the NFL, but the defensive line will again be one of the best and deepest in college football. Senior Robert Reynolds is the lone returnee at linebacker, but there are several outstanding youngsters ready to step in and fill the void created by the departure of All-American Matt Wilhelm in the middle and speedy Cie Grant on the outside. Sophomore A.J. Hawk in particular has been impressive in fall camp. Cornerbacks Chris Gamble and Dustin Fox, the Buckeyes’ leading tackler a year ago with 84 total stops, both return to anchor the secondary. OSU must replace Mike Doss and Donnie Nickey at the two safety spots, but Will Allen, Nate Salley, Brandon Mitchell, Tyler Everett and Donte Whitner (a true freshman) give the Buckeyes a deep pool of talent with which to fill those voids.
Mike Nugent led the Buckeyes in scoring last year with 120 points, the most ever by an OSU kicker. He made 25-of-28 field goals in a spectacular sophomore season that resulted in first-team All-America honors. In the Buckeyes’ recent kick scrimmage, the 5-10, 170-pound junior nailed a 58-yarder with room to spare.
Senior B.J. Sander will take over at punter for graduated All-American Andy Groom. He has big shoes to fill, but has been impressive in fall camp.
Buckeyes to Watch in 2003
Quarterback Craig Krenzel, the consummate leader and winner, is 15-1 as a starter. In addition to his throwing prowess, the 6-4 redhead can also run the ball. He proved that in the Fiesta Bowl by leading both teams in rushing with 81 yards and two touchdowns. He is a candidate for the Unitas and O’Brien awards.
Split end Michael Jenkins is coming off his best year, hauling in 61 receptions for 1,076 yards in 2002. The Buckeyes’ “Mr. Clutch”, Jenkins is expected to be a leading contender for the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver.
Center Alex Stepanovich, in his second year as a starter, is on the watch list for the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center.
Junior Chris Gamble, arguably the best all-around player in college football, will start at cornerback and flanker and will also return punts and kickoffs. Now a much more physical player at 200 pounds (up 16 from a year ago), he will be a leading candidate for all the player of the year awards, as well as the Thorpe Award as the top defensive back in college football.
Junior kicker Mike Nugent is Ohio State’s lone returning All-American. He is coming off a spectacular year in which he set nine school records and led the team in scoring. He was second in the voting for the Lou Groza award last year and should be a finalist again this year.
The Buckeyes also boast three of the top defensive linemen in the nation in seniors Will Smith, Darrion Scott and Tim Anderson. All three are candidates for the Lombardi Award in 2003.
Buckeyes Enjoy Record Season
Ohio State set an NCAA Division 1-A record in 2002 with 14 wins. In doing so, the Buckeyes recorded their fifth ever unbeaten, untied season (1916, 1944, 1954 and 1968 previously) and claimed their seventh national championship (1942, 1954, 1957, 1961, 1968 and 1970).
Four Buckeyes Receive All-America Recognition in 2002
Four Ohio State players won first-team All-America honors last year – strong safety Michael Doss, linebacker Matt Wilhelm, punter Andy Groom and kicker Mike Nugent, giving the Buckeyes an all-time total of 160 first-team All-Americans. Ohio State has had a first-team All-American every year since 1991. The Buckeyes also had four first-team choices in 1995 and 1998. Doss won All-America honors for the third-consecutive year, becoming the seventh three-time All-American in Ohio State history.
Ohio State All-Time
The game against Washington will signify the beginning of Ohio State’s 114th football season. The Buckeyes, who have an all-time record of 746-292-53, first fielded a team in 1890.
Buckeyes Enjoy Opening-Day Success
Ohio State has won its last 24 home openers, dating back to a 19-0 loss to Penn State in 1978. The Buckeyes have an all-time opening-day record of 97-12-4. The Buckeyes last opening-day loss came at the hands of Miami in the 1999 Kickoff Classic.
Pollsters Have Buckeyes in No. 2 Slot
Ohio State was ranked second nationally in both the Associated Press and the ESPN/USA TODAY preseason polls released earlier this month. The first Football Writers poll also had the Buckeyes at No. 2. Ohio State received 27 first-place votes in the AP voting and 28 in the ESPN poll. In its College Football Preview edition, Sports Illustrated tabbed Ohio State as its No. 1 pick. Ohio State began the 1998 season as the nation’s top-ranked team, finishing that season with an 11-1 mark and the No. 2 spot in both polls behind Tennessee. The Buckeyes were 12th and 13th in last year’s ESPN and AP preseason polls.
Washington was 17th in the preseason AP poll and 19th in the ESPN/USA TODAY voting.
Including the Huskies, five of this year’s Ohio State opponents are currently ranked in the top 25 – Michigan is No. 4 in the AP poll and No. 7 in the ESPN/USA TODAY poll, North Carolina State is 14th in the ESPN/USA TODAY poll and 16th in the Associated Press voting, Purdue is 19th in the AP and 22nd in ESPN/USA TODAY and Wisconsin is 20th in ESPN/USA TODAY and 21st in the Associated Press poll.
Saturday Night Live in Columbus
This is the sixth night game in Ohio Stadium history. The Buckeyes are a perfect 5-0 in prime time with wins over Pittsburgh (10-7) in 1985, Washington (21-12) in 1993, Wyoming (24-10) in 1997, UCLA (42-20) in 1999 and Northwestern (38-20) in 2001.
GameDay No Stranger To Columbus
This is GameDay’s sixth trip to Columbus for an Ohio State game. The Buckeyes are 5-0 to date with wins over Penn State in 1996, Iowa in 1997, Penn State again in 1998 and Washington State and Michigan last year.
| Junior place kicker Mike Nugent
has made his last 15 field goal
attempts in Ohio Stadium, a
Nugent Looks to Extend Record
Ohio State kicker Mike Nugent heads into the 2003 season hoping toextend his school record of 15-consecutive field goals made in OhioStadium. The junior from Centerville, Ohio, did not miss at home in2002.
Moving Up The Charts
Quarterback Craig Krenzel currently ranks 10th in career passing yards at Ohio State with 2,453. He needs 66 yards to move into ninth place ahead of Don Unverferth (1963-65) and 208 yards to take over the eighth position presently held by Stan Jackson (1994-97). Jim Karsatos (1984-86) is in seventh place with 5,089 yards.
Krenzel also ranks 18th in career total offense at OSU with 2,802 yards. Carlos Snow with 2,974 yards between 1987 and 1991 is in 17th place. Krenzel needs 173 yars to go around Snow.
Split end Michael Jenkins is sixth in career receptions (110) and career receiving yards (2,064). He needs 12 catches to move into fifth spot on the receiving list ahead of John Frank (1980-83) who had 121 career grabs, and 27 yards to move past Dee Miller (1995-98) in receiving yards. Miller currently holds down the fifth spot with 2,090.
Kicker Mike Nugent has made 32 career field goals. The school record of 59 belongs to Dan Stultz (1996-2000). Nugent has made 32 of 42 attempts and ranks first in career percentage at .761.
Buckeye Winning Streak Second Best in School Annals
Ohio State’s current 14-game winning skein ties for the second-longest streak in school history. The Buckeyes also won 14 in a row in 1899 and 1900, capturing the final seven games in the former season and the first seven the following year. The OSU record for consecutive wins is 22, set between 1967 and 1969. In putting that streak together, the Buckeyes won their last four games in 1967, posted a perfect 10-0 record in 1968 and then won the first nine games of the 1969 campaign.
Husky Coaches Have Buckeye Connection
Washington’s defensive line coach, Randy Hart, is no stranger to Ohio State fans. Hart, a native of Willoughby, Ohio, played his college football at Ohio State (1967-69) and later served as an assistant coach at his alma mater under Earle Bruce (1982-87).
Additionally, Husky running backs coach Chuck Heater also served as an Ohio State assistant from 1985 to 1987.
Playing at Home Always Nice
The Buckeyes were 8-0 in Ohio Stadium last year and have an all-time record of 342-101-20 since the Stadium was opened in 1922. Ohio State plays eight home games again this year.
Will Allen Makes His First Start
Senior Will Allen started the season opener with Texas Tech last year when the Buckeyes opened with five defensive backs. Allen will be the regular this year at strong safety, taking over for three-year starter and three-time All-American Michael Doss.
“This is one of the most exciting weeks of my life,” said Allen. “This is what I have worked for, what I have dreamed of. I know I will be walking on air when we take the field Saturday night.”
Douglas To Miss Season
Ivan Douglas was to have returned for his senior season as the starter at left tackle. But the 6-6 senior will sit out the season for medical reasons. Douglas also missed the 2001 season, but was the starter last year, helping the Buckeyes to the national championship. Douglas is expected to fill the role of student coach this year, as will Richard McNutt, who sat out most of last year with a chronic ankle condition.
Ohio State Mourns Loss of Longtime Team Physcian Dr. Robert Murphy
Dr. Robert J. “Bob” Murphy, who served as the Ohio State football team physcian from 1952 until his retirement in 1993, died Saturday in Columbus. Dr. Murphy, a friend to hundreds of former Buckeye student-athletes, was a leader in treating heat illness and an early proponent of player hydration.
“Dr. Bob is one of the reasons Ohio State football is legendary,” said head coach Jim Tressel. “He was a leader in sports medicine, especially the area of getting athletes to hydrate themselves, and people looked to Ohio State because of his leadership.”
Buckeyes Host Aztecs Next Week
Ohio State continues its season-opening five-game home stand next week by hosting San Diego State at 12:10 p.m. (EDT) in Ohio Stadium. The game, originally scheduled to be played in San Diego, will be televised by ESPN Plus.