Oct. 30, 2001
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Big Ten Teleconference Notes
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Buckeyes Face Gophers in Key Game for Both Teams
Ohio State stays on the road this week, traveling to Minneapolis to face the Golden Gophers of Minnesota. The Buckeyes enter the game with a 4-3 record, including a 2-2 mark in Big Ten play, but have lost their last two conference outings (by a combined total of five points). Ohio State is coming off a 29-27 loss at Penn State over the weekend, a game in which Coach Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes jumped out to a 27-9 lead, but could not hold off an emotional Penn State comeback. Minnesota drubbed Murray State, 66-10, Saturday and is now 3-4 on the year. The Glen Mason-coached Gophers are 1-3 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes are 1-2 on the road this year. Minnesota is 3-0 at home. Saturday’s game has been moved to 7:45 p.m. EST (6:45 p.m. CT) in the Metrodome (64,172) and will be televised by ESPN.
Buckeye Travel Plans
The team and official party will depart Port Columbus (Lane Aviation) at 6 p.m. Friday and will fly via private charter to Minneapolis. The team will stay at the Hilton (1001 Marquette) and will return to Columbus immediately after the game. The Buckeyes will not work out in Minneapolis Friday.
WBNS Radio Feeds Statewide Network
Buckeye fans can hear all of Saturday’s action on WBNS Radio (1460 AM and 97.1 FM), the flagship station for the 79-station Ohio State radio network. Paul Keels calls the play-by-play and former Buckeye All-America Jim Lachey serves as the color analyst for the broadcast. Another ex-Buckeye, Jim Karsatos, provides the expert sideline commentary. Network programming begins one hour before kickoff. Following the game, WBNS Radio carries Coach Jim Tressel’s press conference live. WBNS also broadcasts the Buckeye Roundtable Monday nights and the Jim Tressel Call-In Show at 7 p.m. Tuesdays.
ESPN Will Televise the Game Nationally
This will be the Buckeyes’ third appearance of the year on ESPN. The network also televised the Northwestern and Penn State games. Ron Franklin, Mike Gottfried and Adrian Karsten are this week’s announcers.
The Buckeyes and Gophers
This will be the 43rd meeting between the two teams. Ohio State leads the rivalry 35-7 and has won 17 of the 21 games played in Minneapolis. The Gophers upset the Buckeyes 29-17 last year in Columbus, ending a string of 16-consecutive wins by Ohio State dating back to 1981 – Minnesota’s last win in Minneapolis. Prior to their win in 1981, the Gophers had lost 12 in a row to the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes have won eight straight in Minneapolis, including a 20-17 thriller in 1999.
About The Buckeyes
Ohio State is 4-3 on the year, 2-2 in the Big Ten, 3-1 at home and 1-2 on the road. The Buckeyes’ three losses have come by a total of 12 points with two of those setbacks coming on the road. . Statistically, Ohio State is second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (17.4), net punting (39.1) and turnover margin (1.14). Following Saturday’s game at Minnesota, the Buckeyes return home to face Purdue and Illinois and then close out the regular season at Michigan Nov. 24.
Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel
With a 4-3 mark in his first year as head coach at Ohio State, Jim Tressel now sports a lifetime record of 139-60-2. Prior to coming to Ohio State, the 48-year-old Tressel spent 15 highly-successful years at Youngstown State, where he led the Penguins to four Division I-AA National Championships, six trips to the title game (including an unprecedented four in a row) and 10 appearances in the playoffs. Tressel was a four-time choice as the Division I-AA National Coach of the Year at Youngstown, winning that honor in 1991, ’93, ’94 and ’97. He also was a six-time pick as Ohio Coach of the Year.
Born in Mentor, Ohio, Tressel grew up in Berea, Ohio, where his father, the late Lee Tressel, was the head coach at Baldwin Wallace College and a legendary figure in Ohio college coaching circles. The elder Tressel led B-W to the 1978 Division III National Championship and was National Coach of the Year that season.
Tressel played for his father at Baldwin Wallace, winning all-conference honors at quarterback as a senior. He graduated cum laude in 1975 with a degree in education and embarked upon his coaching career the following fall, as a graduate assistant at Akron, where he spent four seasons (the last three in a full-time capacity) and earned his master’s degree in education. Tressel’s coaching career then took him to Miami (Ohio) and Syracuse before coming to Ohio State in 1983 as a member of Earle Bruce’s staff. He spent three years as an Ohio State assistant, serving as quarterbacks and receivers coach the first year and taking on the added responsibility of the running backs his last two years. While Tressel was at Ohio State, the Buckeyes posted a combined record of 27-9, played in the Fiesta, Rose and Citrus bowls and captured the 1984 Big Ten title. Some of his more notable pupils during that time included Cris Carter, Mike Tomczak and Keith Byars.
Tressel left Ohio State following the 1985 season to become head coach at Youngstown State. He remained there until returning to Columbus this past January as the 22nd head football coach in Ohio State history. This will be Tressel’s first meeting with Minnesota.
All-America safety Michael Doss had 13 tackles against Penn State and continues to pace the Buckeyes in that department with 61 stops on the year. The hard-hitting Doss has led the Buckeyes in tackles each of the past four games and has 45 total tackles in that span. The 5-11, 203-pound junior also has two blocked punts on the year, has scored a touchdown on a 30-yard fumble runback and leads the team in tackles-for-loss with eight. Doss was a consensus All-Big Ten pick last year and also was named to a first-team berth on the Sporting News All-America team.
Bentley Making The Grade Week After Week
Senior center LeCharles Bentley continues to excel up front for the Buckeyes. Bentley, who graded out to a winning performance in each of the first seven games, has been the Buckeyes’ Offensive Lineman of the Week on two occasions and was the Offensive Player of the Game following the UCLA game. The 6-2, 300-pound Bentley, who is in his second full year as a starter, has drawn continuous praise from head coach Jim Tressel. “He is smart, he is tough and he is physical,” Tressel said. “And he just gets better every week.” Bentley graded out to 90 percent against Penn State, the sixth-consecutive game in which he has topped the 90th percentile.
Derek Ross Takes Over Big Ten Lead Cornerback Derek Ross picked off two more interceptions last week and now has six on the year. He leads the Big Ten with an average of 0.86 picks per game and is second nationally. He also leads the Big Ten in interception return yardage with 138. Ross scored his first touchdown of the season at Penn State, returning his second interception of the day 45 yards for six points. The 6-1, 197-pound junior from Rock Hill, S.C., has interceptions in four-consecutive games. The Ohio State single-season record for interceptions is nine, set by Mike Sensibaugh in 1969 and tied by Craig Cassady in 1975.
Groom Second Nationally
Ohio State junior Andy Groom is second nationally in punting with an average of 45.6 yards per kick on 27 punts. He trails Purdue’s Travis Dorsch, who is averaging 49.9 yards per kick on 23 punts. Groom, a former walk-on from Columbus who was converted to scholarship earlier this year, has dropped 13 punts inside the 20, time and again pinning opponents deep in their own territory. At Penn State, he averaged 45.6 yards per kick on five punts and had two inside the 20. The Ohio State single season record for best punting average (47.1) belongs to Tom Tupa and was set in 1984. If Groom maintains his current average, it would be the fifth best in Ohio State history and the best since 1987.
Wells Again Tops The Century Mark
Tailback Jonathan Wells rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown against Penn State, his third 100-yard game of the year and the fifth of his career. Wells, who had a 65-yard TD run against the Nittany Lions, is the Buckeyes’ leading rusher (683 yards) and scorer (48 points on eight touchdowns). The 6-1, 230-pound senior now has 1,770 career yards as a Buckeye, leaving him 230 yards short of the 2,000 plateau. Should he top that figure, he would become the 18th Ohio State running back to do so. Wells, clearly in the midst of his best year, had 598 yards and six touchdowns all of last year.
Jenkins Has Best Yardage Day at Penn State
Sophomore split end Michael Jenkins had four receptions for 172 yards and a touchdown at Penn State. The 172 yards is a career high for the 6-4, 200-pound Jenkins, whose previous best was 106 yards in the season opener with Akron. Jenkins had a career-long 66-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage against the Nittany Lions. He topped that in the second quarter, however, with a 68-yard reception. Jenkins, who has at least one reception in all seven games, leads the Buckeyes in receptions (23), yardage (533) and yards per catch (23.2). He also leads the Big Ten in the latter category. Saturday’s touchdown was the first of his career at Ohio State.
Recapping Penn State
Ohio State led 13-9 at the half and scored two quick touchdowns early in the third quarter to take a 27-9 lead. But Penn State scored 20-unanswered points to forge ahead 29-27 with 14:47 to play. Ohio State’s bid for the go-ahead field goal was blocked with 2:55 to play and the Nittany Lions were able to run out the clock and present Coach Joe Paterno with his record setting 324th career win. The game was filled with big plays, including passes of 66 and 68 yards from Steve Bellisari to Michael Jenkins and a 65-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Wells. Additionally, freshman Maurice Hall returned seven kicks for 167 yards. Defensively, the Buckeyes recorded a season-high 18 tackles-for-loss and had three interceptions. Two of the latter were by cornerback ceptions. Two of the latter were by cornerback Derek Ross. All-America safety Mike Doss had a game-high 13 tackles and linebacker Joe Cooper was credited with three tackles-for-loss. The 18 tackles-for-loss were one shy of the school record of 19 set against Penn State in 1999.
Tressel On Penn State and The Upcoming Schedule
“We knew a team like Penn State wouldn’t quit. It was a disappointing loss because we had opportunities to put the game away and didn’t make the plays we needed to make. We have good teams left to play. We’ve got a lot of things we need to get better at. We’ve got some things we are getting better at. Our challenge is to play consistently for the full 60 minutes,” Jim Tressel said.
Martin Carrying On OSU Tradition
Fullback Jamar Martin is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, tops among the running backs who are in the regular rotation. He also is averaging 8.4 yards per reception. The 6-1, 255-pound senior has carried the ball 13 times this year. He had eight carries and one reception all of last year. Over the years, Ohio State has been known for its stellar fullback play. Martin certainly fits into that mold.
Freshman Running Back OSU’s Second Leading Rusher
Freshman tailback Lydell Ross rushed for 26 yards at Penn State and is the team’s second leading rusher with 319 yards and six TDs. The 17-year-old Ross made Ohio State history earlier this season by becoming the youngest Ohio State player ever to rush for 100 yards in a game. Ross, whose 18th birthday is Dec. 14, rushed for 124 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ win over Indiana Sept. 29. He is the first Ohio State freshman to top the century mark since Robert Smith in 1990. The only other Buckeye freshman to do so is two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, who accomplished the feat in 1972.
Buckeyes Player Notes
Freshman Maurice Hall leads the Buckeyes in return yardage with 309 on 15 attempts, an average of 20.6 yards per kick return. The Ohio State record for kick return yardage is 653 on 31 attempts set by Ken-Yon Rambo in 1999. Hall had seven returns at Penn State Saturday, tying the Ohio State record held by Vince Workman (at Wisconsin, 1987). Ohio State has 10 interceptions on the year, six of those by Derek Ross. Only three Ohio State players have ever had more in a season. Mike Sensibaugh had nine in 1969 and eight in 1970. Craig Cassady had nine in 1975 and Neil Colzie had eight in 1974. Tailback Jonathan Wells is Ohio State’s third leading receiver with 10 catches. He caught nine all of last year. Defensive tackle Darrion Scott has 31 tackles on the year, compared to eight in 2000.
Buckeye Injury Report
Sophomore split end Drew Carter, who missed the first two games with a foot injury, suffered a knee injury prior to the Indiana game and is out indefinitely. Prior to being hurt in fall camp, Carter was penciled in as a starter. He had six receptions last year.
OSU Freshman in The Thick of Things
Seven true freshmen have seen action to date for OSU: running backs Lydell Ross and Maurice Hall, split end Chris Gamble, flanker Angelo Chattams, defensive end Simon Fraser, safety Dustin Fox and kicker Mike Nugent. Ross is the Buckeyes’ second leading rusher with 319 yards and also is the second leading scorer with 36 points. Fox is the only freshman to start, getting the call at nickel against Northwestern and recording six tackles.
Bellisari Now Sixth In Total Offense and Passing Yardage
With 1,055 yards this year, senior quarterback Steve Bellisari has 5,620 yards in career total offense at Ohio State, a total ranks him sixth on the all-time OSU list. Bellisari has thrown for 5,092 yards during his career and also stands sixth in that category.
Ohio State Career Total Offense Leaders 1. Art Schlichter 8,850 1,464 atts. 1978-81 2. Bobby Hoying 7,152 1,026 atts. 1992-95 3. Greg Frey 6,098 988 atts. 1987-90 4. Joe Germaine 6,094 852 atts. 1996-98 5. Mike Tomczak 6,015 858 atts. 1981-83 6. Steve Bellisari 5,620 962 atts. 1998-01 7. Archie Griffin 5,589 924 atts. 1972-75 8. Jim Karsatos 5,261 759 atts. 1983-86
Ohio State Career Passing Yards Leaders 1. Art Schlichter 7,547 497-951 1978-81 2. Bobby Hoying 7,232 498-858 1992-95 3. Joe Germaine 6,370 439-741 1996-98 4. Greg Frey 6,316 443-835 1987-90 5. Mike Tomczak 5,569 376-675 1981-84 6. Steve Bellisari 5,092 339-687 1998-01 7. Jim Karsatos 5,089 359-629 1983-86
Walter Streak Now Stands at 44
Senior Tyson Walter, who sat out all of last year with a back injury, has returned to action this season and has started the first seven games, giving the 6-5, 300-pound senior a string of 44-consecutive starts as the Buckeyes head into this week’s game at Minnesota. The versatile Walter has started two games a left guard (Akron and Indiana) and the other five at left tackle this season. Assuming he starts the remaining regular-season games, and possibly a bowl game, Walter will establish an Ohio State record for starts.
Seniors Steve Bellisari, Jamar Martin, Joe Cooper and Mike Collins are the 2001 Ohio State captains. Bellisari and Cooper also were captains last season and are the first repeat captains at OSU since Pepper Johnson in 1984 and ’85.
Hartsock Nominated for Academic All-America
Sophomore tight end Ben Hartsock has been nominated for the CoSIDA Academic All-America team. Hartsock has a 3.65 grade-point average in biology. In order to be eligible for the team, which is selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America, a student-athlete must have a GPA of 3.2 or better and be a starter or significant player. Hartsock, a native of Chillicothe, Ohio, is the Buckeyes’ No. 2 tight end and has started two games this year. Since 1952, Ohio State has had 30 players selected to the first team, including cornerback Ahmed Plummer in 1999. Hartsock was the Buckeyes’ offensive lineman of the week against San Diego State.
Walter Nominated for NFFHF Scholarship
Offensive tackle Tyson Walter has been nominated for a 2001 National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Scholarship. Walter, from Bainbridge, Ohio, graduated from Ohio State in the winter of 2000 with a degree in finance and is currently completing work on degrees in economics, risk management and information services. Over the years, Ohio State has had a Big Ten-best 18 NFFHF scholarship winners.
Six Walk-Ons Receive Scholarships
Six members of the Ohio State football team have been converted to scholarship this season. They are seniors Ben Steele (Marysville, Ohio) and Jim Kortovich (Euclid, Ohio), juniors Andy Groom (Columbus), Michael Stafford (Upper Arlington, Ohio) and Andrew Schabo (Worthington, Ohio) and sophomore Jason Bond (Worthington, Ohio)
Maurice Hall Honored By The National Football Foundation
Ohio State freshman running back Maurice Hall has been selected by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame as that organization’s Midwest Region High School Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2001. The award honors high school scholar-athletes who demonstrated outstanding academic application and performance, superior football performance, and exemplary leadership and citizenship. Hall, who was nominated by the Columbus Chapter of the NFFCHF, graduated with a 4.6 GPA, was a First-Team All-Ohio pick and was president of his senior class at Columbus Brookhaven High School.
Game Day Coaching Assignments
On offense, quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels and tight ends coach Bill Conley will be in the press box during the game, assisted by offensive graduate assistant Jim Bridge. Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman and running backs coach Tim Spencer will be on the sidelines. On defense, linebackers coach Mark Snyder, defensive backs mentor Mel Tucker and grad assistant Brandon Blaney will be upstairs, while defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio, defensive line coach Jim Heacock and special teams coordinator Ken Conatser will be on the field.
Hicks OSU’s Latest Hall of Fame Selection
Former All-American offensive tackle John Hicks is the latest Ohio State player to be selected for the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. Hicks, who won first-team All-America honors in 1972 and ’73, is the 18th Ohio State player to be selected. He will be officially inducted this December in New York. Hicks won the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award as a senior in 1973. He also finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting that year, coming within an eyelash of one of the most remarkable hat tricks in college football history.
Decals and Flags Added to OSU Uniform
The Ohio State football team is wearing three special helmet decals this season. The Buckeyes have a “KS” sticker on their helmets in honor of former All-America lineman Korey Stringer, who died in July while at training camp with the Minnesota Vikings. Following the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. and the plane crash in Pennsylvania Sept. 11, an American flag decal was added to the helmets. A third decal, the number 22, was affixed to the head gear prior to the Indiana game in memory of Ohio State soccer player Connor Senn who died Sept. 26 while playing for the Buckeyes. The team also is wearing an American flag on its jerseys. The latter was added prior to the Northwestern game.
Buckeyes Three Shy of Big Ten Milestone
Ohio State’s all-time Big Ten record stands at 397-154-24. The Buckeyes need three more Big Ten wins to become the second team in league annals to reach the 400 mark.
Buckeyes Member of Elite 700 Club
One of the most successful programs in college football, Ohio State now has an all-time record of 729-290-53 in this, its 112th year of varsity competition. The Buckeyes are one of just seven Division I-A schools to top the 700 figure.
Buckeyes Against Ranked Teams
Ohio State is 1-1 against teams in the Top 25 this year, losing 13-6 to UCLA (ranked 12th at the time) and defeating then No. 14 Northwestern, 38-20.
The Gophers are coming off a 66-10 thumping of visiting Murray State. The Racers were added to the Minnesota schedule after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 forced cancellation of a Sept. 15 game with Baylor. The Gophers are 3-4 on the year and 1-3 in Big Ten play. After opening league play with consecutive losses to Purdue (35-28), at Illinois (25-14) and at Northwestern (23-17), they picked up their first Big Ten win by defeating visiting Michigan State (28-19). The win over Murray State (their highest point total since 1937) was their second straight and third in as many tries in the Metrodome this year. Running back Tellis Redmon leads the Minnesota ground attack (239 yards per game) with 788 yards and five touchdowns. Redmon had 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win over Murray State. Quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq, who threw for 186 yards and three scores Saturday, has started the past three games and has thrown for 549 yards and five touchdowns for the Gophers who are averaging 193.3 yards through the air. Wide receiver Ron Johnson leads the receiving corps with 37 catches for 508 yards and five touchdowns. Johnson had eight receptions for 163 yards against the Buckeyes last year. As a team, the Gophers are averaging 29.1 points and 433 yards a game. They are giving up 23.4 points and 398 yards per contest. Linebacker Phil Archer leads Minnesota with 82 tackles, one more than free safety Jack Brewer. The Gophers’ defense is giving up 236.6 yards per game passing and 161.4 on the ground.
Minnesota Coach Glen Mason
Glen Mason is in his fifth year at Minnesota and his 16th season as a head coach. Mason, who played his college football at Ohio State (he graduated in 1972) and later served as an assistant with the Buckeyes (1978-85), has a lifetime record of 84-93-1, including a 25-29 mark with the Gophers. He is 1-3 against his alma mater, that one win coming last year in Columbus (29-17) in a game that knocked the 5th-ranked Buckeyes from the unbeaten ranks. Mason and current Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel spent the 1983 through ’85 seasons together as assistants under Earle Bruce.
Some Buckeye-Gopher Ties
While there are no players from the state of Minnesota on the Ohio State roster, there are 10 Buckeyes on the Gophers’ roster, including three from the greater Columbus area. Three of those players – defensive backs Keith Matthews (Akron Archbishop) and Danny Upchurch (Columbus Brookhaven) and linebacker Paul Nixon (Columbus Mifflin) – are in the Minnesota two-deep. First-year Ohio State linebacker coach Mark Snyder came to the Buckeyes from the University of Minnesota, where he spent four years as defensive ends coach. Snyder is from Ironton, Ohio. Associate director of football operations Dick Tressel’s son Luke (also the nephew of head coach Jim Tressel) is a graduate assistant coach on the Minnesota staff.
Game 1: Akron
The Buckeyes opened the 2001 campaign Sept. 8 with a 28-14 win over Akron in front of a then-Ohio Stadium record crowd of 102,602. The game marked the debut of new Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel and the unveiling of refurbished Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes rolled up 525 yards in total offense and ran 85 plays (20 more than Akron) on a hot, humid day.
Quarterbacks Steve Bellisari and Scott McMullen threw for 289 yards, spreading the ball around to seven different receivers. Bellisari had a pair of touchdown passes and sophomore split end Michael Jenkins had six receptions for 106 yards in his first career start.
Senior tailback Jonathan Wells ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. The Buckeyes netted 236 yards rushing.
Meanwhile, the Ohio State defense limited the Zips to 248 yards (114 rushing and 134 passing) and one touchdown. Senior linebacker Joe Cooper had a team-high 10 tackles.
The Buckeyes led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and were ahead 21-0 before Akron got on the board with just over two minutes to play in the first half. The two teams traded long touchdowns in the second half, the Buckeyes scoring on a 61-yard pass in the third quarter, and the Zips on an 87-yard interception return in the fourth.
Game 2: at UCLA
In a titanic defensive struggle, the Ohio State defense forced seven fumbles, recovering four of those, and held the Bruins’ offense to 323 total yards, including just 105 yards in the second half. After converting four third-down plays on their first drive, which led to their only touchdown of the day, the Bruins converted just two of 11 the rest of the afternoon.
Linebacker Matt Wilhelm led Ohio State with 10 total tackles, including eight solos and two tackles-for-loss. He also forced a fumble. Strong safety Mike Doss had seven tackles, recovered a fumble and blocked a UCLA punt that Ohio State recovered for a touchdown. And defensive end Tim Cheatwood was credited with five tackles, including a tackle-for-loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. It was a superb defensive effort by the Buckeyes against a veteran and talented offensive team.
UCLA tailback and Heisman Trophy hopeful DeShaun Foster, who had been averaging 149 yards a game, could manage just 66 on 29 carries against the Buckeyes.
Punter Andy Groom had his best day as a Buckeye against UCLA, averaging 46.8 yards per punt on six kicks, including a career-best 61-yard boot. Offensively, the Buckeyes could manage just 166 yards against a solid UCLA defense. In spite of a missed PAT and two missed field goals, Ohio State was a touchdown away from winning the game.
Jonathan Wells led the Buckeyes in rushing with 47 yards.
Game 3: at Indiana
Behind the running of true freshman Lydell Ross, the passing of Steve Bellisari, and a third-consecutive impressive defensive showing, Ohio State opened its Big Ten season with a 27-14 road win over Indiana. Ross, a 6-0, 210-pound tailback, slashed and dashed his way through the Hoosiers for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. Senior tailback Jonathan Wells added 69 yards and a third rushing TD as the Buckeyes netted 197 yards on the ground.
With the OSU running game in high gear, Bellisari enjoyed the best percentage day of his career, completing 15 of 21 passes for 194 yards. Nine different players caught passes for the Buckeyes, including split end Michael Jenkins and fullback Jamar Martin who led the way with three each. The Buckeyes scored all five times they were in the red zone and when they did bog down, junior punter Andy Groom gave them great field position by averaging 42.3 yards per kick on three punts.
The Ohio State defense, meanwhile, limited the Hoosiers to 337 yards and held ever-dangerous quarterback Antwaan Randle El to 70 yards rushing and 181 yards passing. The Buckeyes won the turnover battle, 2-0, recovering a fumble and picking off an interception. Linebackers Matt Wilhelm and Joe Cooper led a balanced defensive effort with nine and eight tackles, respectively.
Ohio State’s special teams also came up big with All-America Michael Doss blocking a punt for the second-consecutive week.
Game 4: Northwestern
The Buckeyes ran their Big Ten record to 2-0 and chalked up their first win of the season over a ranked opponent, Oct. 6, downing visiting Northwestern by a final score of 38-20. Senior tailback Jonathan Wells got the Buckeyes off on the right foot, bolting 71 yards off left tackle on the second play from scrimmage to stake OSU to a 7-0 lead. Wells would go on to score two more touchdowns and rush for a career-high 179 yards on 22 carries. The 14th ranked Wildcats tied the game at 7-all on their first possession, but the Buckeyes took a 14-7 lead when Will Smith forced a fumble that junior All-America Mike Doss, scooped up and returned 30 yards for a score. OSU led 21-7 at the half on Wells’ 1-yard run. The Buckeyes put the game out of reach by scoring on their first three possessions of the second half and taking control 38-7. Northwestern, which entered the game averaging 490 yards a game, finished with just 306 yards (216 of that coming on the Wildcats last three possessions). The fast-striking Wildcats, who had been averaging nearly 90 plays a game, managed a season-low 79 against an aggressive, well-prepared Ohio State defense, which forced two turnovers and recorded 10 tackles-for-loss and five sacks. The Wildcats dangerous duo of quarterback Zak Kustok and running back Damien Anderson was held to a combined total of 221 yards. Wells got plenty of support in the running department from sophomore Sammy Maldonado and freshman Lydell Ross. Maldonado banged his way through and around the Wildcat defense for 60 yards on 13 carries. Ross added 33 yards on 11 attempts, including a dazzling 9-yard touchdown run at the start of the third quarter that gave OSU a 28-7 bulge. Ohio State finished with a season-high 287-yards rushing on 53 attempts. The 38 points also was a season high for the Buckeyes who downed the Wildcats for the 22nd-consecutive time.
Game 5: Wisconsin
The Buckeyes jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but couldn’t hold on, dropping a 20-17 decision to the visiting Badgers. Ohio State played nearly flawless football the first 30 minutes, scoring on its first three possessions. But Wisconsin got on the board with 46 seconds to play in the first half following a bad punt snap that gave the Badgers the ball at the Ohio State 23. From there, it took Wisconsin just one play to score and snatch away the momentum from their hosts. The Badgers scored a touchdown and two field goals after halftime for the win. With the score tied at 17, the Buckeyes missed a 48-yard field goal try with 5:04 to play. On its next possession, Wisconsin converted from 33 yards out for the game winner. The Buckeyes had a 189 to 112 edge in total offense at the half, but wound up on the short end of a 329 to 253 deficit in the yardage department. Quarterback Steve Bellisari and freshman tailback Lydell Ross each rushed for touchdowns. Jonathan Wells rushed for a team-high 66 yards and Chris Vance had four receptions, including two spectacular grabs. Safety Mike Doss and linebacker Courtland Bullard each had six tackles. Wisconsin running back Anthony Davis finished with 103 yards on 26 carries, 23 of those yards coming on the momentum shifting TD run just before the half. The victory by the Badgers marked the third straight win by the visiting team.
Game 6: San Diego State
Ohio State rallied from its 12-6 halftime deficit by forcing five turnovers in a span of 12:44. Linebacker Joe Cooper started things off with an interception on the Aztecs second possession of the third quarter. That opened the floodgates for the Buckeyes who then came up with a fumble recovery and three more interceptions on the Aztecs next four possessions. With the defense providing the momentum, the offense responded with three touchdowns, including a dazzling 51-yard gallop by freshman tailback Lydell Ross that capped off the scoring. It was the second TD of the day for Ross, who scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter. Quarterback Steve Bellisari and starting tailback Jonathan Wells accounted for the other two second-half touchdowns, Bellisari darting into the corner of the end zone from 4-yards out when his receivers were covered, and Wells bulling his way in from the 1. Bellisari completed 15-of-28 passes for 198 yards, while Wells and Ross each finished with 60 yards rushing. Flanker Chris Vance was on the receiving end of five Bellisari passes and tight end Darnell Sanders had a season-high four. Strong safety Mike Doss led the defense with 12 tackles including a tackle-for-loss. Defensive end Darrion Scott was next in line with seven stops, followed by Cooper and Donnie Nickey with six each. Linebacker Robert Reynolds had a sack, forced a fumble and picked off his first interception of the year. Cornerback Derek Ross had two interceptions and blocked a PAT attempt.
Horvath’s No. 22 Retired
The jersey number of Ohio State’s first Heisman Trophy winner, the late Les Horvath, was officially retired at halftime of the Oct. 6 Northwestern game. His No. 22, which now hangs in the north end of Ohio Stadium, will never again be worn by an Ohio State football player. Horvath, who died in 1995, won the Heisman in 1944, leading Ohio State to a 9-0 record and the Big Ten championship. He is the fourth Ohio State football player to have his number retired, joining Archie Griffin (1999), Vic Janowicz (2000) and Howard “Hopalong” Cassady (2000).
Coach Jim Tressel’s weekly Media Luncheon is held each Tuesday at the Buckeye Hall of Fame Caf, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Selected Ohio State players will be available for interviews at the luncheon and following practice later that afternoon (about 6:15 p.m.). Tuesday practices are open to the media, but photographers are permitted to film the first four periods ONLY. Coach Tressel and two designated assistants also are available following Thursday practices. A reminder that ALL requests for player, assistant coach and head coach interviews must be directed to either Steve Snapp, Pat Chun or Dan Wallenberg in the Ohio State Athletics Communications Office (614/292-3103 or 292-6861). Also, television stations are asked not to interview players coming off the field following the completion of the game. The first opportunity to interview players after a game will be in the interview room after Coach Tressel has spoken with the team.
Buckeyes Return Home Next Week
Following their trip to Minnesota, the Buckeyes return home next week to host Purdue. Former Ohio State running back Eddie George (1992-95) will have his number (No. 27) retired at halftime, becoming the fifth Buckeye football player to be so honored. Kickoff time has not been determined and is not expected to be announced until Saturday at the earliest.