Dec. 30, 2004

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SAN ANTONIO – Even with its second-string quarterback in charge, Ohio State had an easy time of it in the Alamo Bowl.

Justin Zwick, replacing the suspended Troy Smith, threw for 189 yards and a touchdown, and Ted Ginn Jr. and Lydell Ross each scored, leading No. 24 Ohio State to a 33-7 win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday night.

“Justin did an excellent job and did what was asked of him,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. “I told someone that Justin was playing as best as he’s ever played.”

Ginn, a true freshman with dazzling speed, caught six passes for 78 yards and rushed for another 51 yards and a touchdown.

Zwick, who lost the starting job to Smith after hurting his shoulder in the sixth game, completed 17 of 27 passes despite a mild hamstring pull.

Ross rushed for 99 yards on 12 carries, and Mike Nugent kicked four field goals for the Buckeyes (8-4) to become the school’s career scoring leader.

Smith, who led Ohio State to victories in four of its last five games, was suspended by the team last week. University officials said he accepted an unspecified gift from a team booster in violation of NCAA rules.

The Buckeyes took advantage of two early turnovers, and never let the Cowboys (7-5) get anything going offensively.

Oklahoma State quarterback Donovan Woods completed 15 of 34 passes for 137 yards and rushed for another 80 yards. Vernand Morency, one of the nation’s top rushers this season, was limited to 24 yards on eight carries. On the first series, Woods underthrew receiver Chijuan Mack and the pass was picked off by Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter. Three plays later, Zwick hit a diving Anthony Gonzalez with a 23-yard touchdown pass.

After a 37-yard field goal by Nugent, the Cowboys were driving when Woods lost his grip on the ball near midfield while trying to run up the middle. Defensive lineman Joel Penton recovered and Nugent capped the drive with a 35-yard field goal to give Ohio State a 13-0 lead with nearly six minutes remaining in the first quarter.

“We were slugging along – it wasn’t like we were moving the ball,” Cowboys coach Les Miles said of his team’s early performance. “And when you give away the ball on a short field, it becomes 13-0.”

In the second, with the Buckeyes at midfield, Zwick threw to a screen pass to Ginn on the left side and the Cowboys cornered him for what looked like a modest gain.

But Ginn eluded three tacklers and broke back to the right sideline for a 42-yard pickup to the Oklahoma State 9. Ross capped the 78-yard drive by scoring from the 1, making it 20-0.

“I try to make something out of nothing if I get trapped,” Ginn said. “You always got to keep your feet moving. You’re always moving forward – that’s what we’ve been taught.”

When Nugent made the extra point following Ross’ touchdown, he passed Pete Johnson as the Buckeyes’ career scoring leader with 356 points.

On its next series, starting at their own 43 after another Cowboys punt, Ohio State advanced 34 yards in six plays and Nugent booted a 41-yard field goal.

Oklahoma State got into Ohio State territory for the first time on their final series of the half, but the drive ended with Jason Ricks missing a 42-yard field goal try.

Early in the third, Cowboys safety Jamie Thompson recovered a fumble by fullback Branden Joe at the Ohio State 34. A 17-yard run by Prentiss Elliott moved the ball to the 9, but the Buckeyes defense tightened.

On fourth-and-long, Oklahoma State tried a fake field goal, but the play was stopped six yards short.

The Buckeyes then marched 94 yards. Ross rushed for 45 yards on the drive, and Ginn had a 28-yard run before he took the snap in the shotgun and ran it in from the 5, making it 30-0.

Nugent kicked his fourth field goal, from 36 yards, before Oklahoma State put up its only points on a 4-yard touchdown run by Shawn Willis that capped an 80-yard drive midway through the fourth.

Associated Press Writer