Nov. 11, 2003

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Transcript of Press Luncheon
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Depth Chart
Top 25 Polls

Ohio State closes out its 2003 home season this week by hosting Purdue. The game will be televised by ABC and will kickoff at 3:37 p.m. EST in soldout Ohio Stadium, where a crowd in excess of 105,000 is expected to be on hand for the showdown between two of the Big Ten’s three co-leaders.

In addition to ABC’s coverage, ESPN’s College GameDay will be on campus for the game between the two nationally-ranked teams.

Ohio State, which has won four straight, enters the game with a 9-1 record for all games and is ranked fourth in this week’s ESPN/USA TODAY and Associated Press polls. Purdue is 8-2 on the year and ranked 10th and 11th, respectively, by the two pollsters. Both teams are 5-1 in league play — tied with Michigan — with two conference games to play.

The Buckeyes, who are coming off a 33-23 win over visiting Michigan State, are unbeaten in six home games this year and have won 15 in a row in Ohio Stadium. Purdue is 2-1 on the road this year with wins at No. 20 Wake Forest and No. 14 Wisconsin and a loss at No. 13 Michigan. The Boilers are coming off a 27-14 win over visiting Iowa this past weekend and have won two in a row.

The Buckeyes, who are 4-1 against ranked teams this year, control their own destiny and would win the outright Big Ten championship with season ending wins over Purdue this week and at Michigan next week.

Saturday’s game with the Boilers will be the final home game for 26 seniors, who, along with their families, will be recognized prior to the game. Since the beginning of the 2000 season, this year’s senior class has compiled an overall record of 38-10.

This week’s game will be broadcast statewide by WBNS Radio, the flagship station for the Ohio State radio network. Additionally, Westwood One will carry the game nationally outside the states of Ohio and Indiana.

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.

On the heels of last week’s convincing win over Michigan State, 9-1 Ohio State has moved up to the No. 4 spot in both major polls and is expected to be either third or fourth in this week’s BCS standings. The Buckeyes, who are the Big Ten’s highest-ranked team, are 4-1 so far this year against teams ranked in the Top 25. Both of their remaining opponents — Purdue this week and Michigan next week — are ranked in the top 10. Ohio State is 1-0 this year against top 10 teams, downing No. 9 Iowa 19-10 in Columbus.

With the win over Michigan State, the Buckeyes have now won 23 of their last 24 starts, including 14 of their last 15 Big Ten games. The Buckeyes, who have won four in a row since being upset 17-10 at Wisconsin, have a 15-game winning streak intact in Ohio Stadium.

Led by All-America candidates Will Smith, Tim Anderson and Chris Gamble, Ohio State leads the nation in rushing defense, allowing 45 yards a game and 1.5 yards per carry. In their last three games, the Buckeyes have given up a total of 26 yards rushing, including just five yards to Michigan State.

The Buckeyes also are fifth nationally in total defense at 267.8 yards per game and ninth in scoring defense, allowing 15.3 points per game. They also have collected 33 sacks on the year, the second-highest figure in the Big Ten.

Offensively, the Buckeyes are averaging 324 yards and 25 points a game. In the last three games, Ohio State has rolled up 603, 301 and 395 yards, respectively, in total offense. Against Michigan State’s highly-regarded defense, the Buckeyes ran for 182 yards and passed for 213 more and outgained the Spartans’ vaunted attack by 17 yards.

Tailback Lydell Ross continues to be the spark for the OSU running game, recording his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game in the win over the Spartans. Ross, who had 125 yards against MSU, now has 643 yards on the season, a career-high.

Senior co-captain Craig Krenzel, who is 22-2 as a starter, has completed 55 percent of his passes and has thrown for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns, including 213 yards and three scores in the win over Michigan State.

Split end Michael Jenkins continues to lead the receiving corps with 35 receptions, followed by talented tight end Ben Hartsock with 30 and fast-emerging star Santonio Holmes with 16.

The Ohio State offense is 31-of-38 in the red zone this year, scoring 22 touchdowns (11 rushing and 11 passing) and nine field goals.

All-America kicker Mike Nugent and punter B.J. Sander have excelled with the Buckeyes’ special teams. Nugent had a personal best four field goals Saturday against Michigan State and is 13-of-15 on the season. Sander is averaging 43.2 yards per kick and has dropped 26 of his 56 punts inside the opposing 20-yard line. Nine more have been fair caught.

In the last three games the Ohio State offense has demonstrated the ability to sustain long scoring drives, recording nine 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 this past week’s win over Michigan State they went 60, 80 and 72 yards to paydirt.

“Consistency is a key for any offense,” said Buckeye offensive coordinator Jim Bollman. “The kind of drives we have had the past three weeks are what you strive for as an offense.”

Following a convincing 10-point win over Michigan State, Ohio State has moved from sixth and seventh to the No. 4 spot in both the ESPN/USA TODAY and the Associated Press polls. The Buckeyes were fifth in last week’s BCS rankings. OSU is 4-1 against ranked teams this year (1-0 against Top 10 teams) and 9-1 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 30-6 for all games and 18-4 in Big Ten play and includes a Big Ten co-championship and a consensus national title, both last year. He is 19-2 in games played in Ohio Stadium and 12-3 against teams ranked in the Top 25. He currently has the Buckeyes ranked No. 4 nationally and 9-1 on the year, tied with Michigan and Purdue for the Big Ten lead at 5-1.

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 165-63-2 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 Purdue, the Buckeyes have won 23 of their last 24 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 receiverscoach 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 444 games. Jim’s nephew, Mike Tressel (Dick’s son), is a graduate assistant for the Buckeyes.

There is an old sports adage that says “good teams win the close ones.” In his two-plus years at Ohio State, Coach Jim Tressel has demonstrated an ability to win the close ones, including three 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 4-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less, including a 44-38 triple-overtime win over N.C. State and a 21-20 squeaker at Penn State. The latter victory gives the Buckeyes an overall record of 13-5 in nail-biters since Tressel took over at the start of the 2001 campaign.

This will be the 48th meeting between the two schools since the initial meeting took place in 1919 at old Ohio Field in Columbus. Ohio State leads the overall series, 34-11-2, and has a 23-5-2 edge in games played in Columbus. The Buckeyes have won the last two games in the series and nine of the last 10 dating back to 1989. The lone exception was a 31-27 setback at the hands of the Boilers in 2000 in West Lafayette. Purdue’s last win in Columbus was a 31-26 decision in 1988. Since then, Ohio State has won five straight from the Boilers in Ohio Stadium.

In a classic matchup last year between to very good teams, the Buckeyes came away with a hard-fought 10-6 win in West Lafayette. OSU scored the winning touchdown on a 37-yard pass from Craig Krenzel to Michael Jenkins with 1:36 to play. The fourth-down play capped off a 46-yard, four-play drive. It was the longest drive of the day against the aggressive Purdue defense. Purdue had one final opportunity to pull out the win, but Chris Gamble’s interception ended the threat and OSU was able to run out the clock.

Other memorable games in the series include Purdue’s 41-6 thrashing of the Buckeyes in 1967 and Ohio State’s 13-0 upset of the No. 1-ranked Boilers the following year. Both games were played in Columbus.

In 1984, Buckeye tailback Keith Byars rushed for 191 yards in a 28-23 loss in West Lafayette in which Rod Woodson’s interception return for a touchdown was the difference.

In 1981, Purdue signal caller Scott Campbell had to ice down his arm after completing 31-of-52 passes for 516 yards and three touchdowns in a game won by Ohio State, 45-33, in West Lafayette.

Senior co-captian Will Smith has been named as one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Award as the top defensive end in college football. The award will be presented in January. Smith’s selection comes on the heels of him being named one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award as the outstanding player who lines up within five-yards of the ball. The 6-4, 265-pound Smith has 39 tackles on the year and leads the Buckeyes in tackles for loss with 17.5 and sacks with 9.5. Ohio State has had four previous Lombardi winners — Jim Stillwagon (1970), John Hicks (1973), Chris Spielman (1987) and Orlando Pace (1995 & ’96). The Buckeyes have never had a Hendricks winner.

Smith, who is in his third year as a starter, has 10.5 tackles-for-loss and six sacks in his last five games. With 44 career tackles-for-loss and 22 career sacks, the Utica, N.Y senior ranks fifth in the OSU records book in both categories.

Junior tailback Lydell Ross spent the first half of the season getting healthy. Now that he is, the Buckeyes’ rushing game is feeling better, too. Ross turned in his third consecutive — and fifth career — 100-yard rushing game against Michigan State on Saturday, netting 125 yards on 24 carries against the Spartans, with 114 of those yards coming in the second half. In the past three weeks Ross has rushed for 402 yards and four touchdowns on 71 carries for an average of 5.7 yards per carry. Ross, who was slowed by a turf toe and then a muscle pull earlier in the year, now has a personal high of 643 yards on the year and is averaging 4.6 yards per attempt on 141 carries. He has rushed for nine touchdowns in 2003 and has 22 career six-pointers. Ross, who ran for 419 yards as a freshman in 2001 and 619 yards last year, has 1,681 career rushing yards. His total this year includes a season-high 167 yards at Indiana and 110 at Penn State. He carried the ball a career-high 24 times at Penn State. He also had 24 carries against Michigan State.

Since taking over for injured starter Drew Carter in the second half at Indiana, flanker Santonio Holmes has demonstrated the ability to make big plays. He did so again Saturday in the win over Michigan State, scoring on a 37-yard pass from Craig Krenzel on which he took the ball away from two Spartan defenders and then dived across the goal line for the TD and a 17-7 Ohio State lead. Holmes had two catches against MSU and has 13 receptions for 282 yards and three touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ last three games. On the year, 5-11 redshirt freshman has 16 receptions for 334 yards and is averaging 20.9 yards per catch.

Senior tight end Ben Hartsock had three receptions for 54 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown catch in Saturday’s 33-23 win over Michigan State. The 6-4, 264-pound Hartsock has 21 catches in Big Ten play and is Ohio State’s second-leading receiver on the year with 30 catches for 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He is averaging 8.9 yards per reception. He had 25-career receptions coming into this year.

“Ben really worked hard over the summer to become a complete player,” said quarterback Craig Krenzel. “He has always been a great blocker, now he is also a very dependable receiver.”

Hartsock had a career-best seven receptions earlier this season in the win over North Carolina State. He has three other games with five receptions.

“In order for us to be a good team, our seniors have to play the best football of their careers and Ben is certainly doing that,” praised head coach Jim Tressel. “In addition to making big catches for us, Ben is one of the best blocking tight ends in college football. He grades out to a winning performance almost every game.”

Hartsock has been selected by the Ohio State coaching staff as 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.

He also is a nominee for Academic All-American.

Flanker Drew Carter, who injured his right knee in the first half of the Indiana game, will undergo surgery and is expected to miss the remainder of the season. Carter, a senior from Solon, Ohio, was in the midst of his best year with 25 receptions for 410 yards and a touchdown. Carter, however, did accompany the team to Penn State and served as honorary captain. Sophomore linebacker A.J. Hawk continues to lead the Buckeyes in tackles with 84, including 11 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. Strong safety Will Allen is second with 59 stops. Linebacker Robert Reynolds had a team-high 10 tackles vs. Michigan State, his second double-figure game of the season. Defensive end Will Smith and tight end Ben Hartsock have each played in 47 games during their careers at Ohio State. Smith has started 32 of those games. Offensive guard Adrien Clarke has the most starts on the team with 38 and cornerback Dustin Fox the most consecutive starts with 24. Fullback Brandon Joe carried the ball six times for 28 yards against Michigan State. Prior to that game, he just four carries on the year and five for his career.

Quarterback Craig Krenzel, the Buckeyes’ co-MVP last year and the offensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl, is 22-2 as a starter. He has five 200-yard passing games this year, including 273 yards in OSU’s triple-overtime win over North Carolina State and 272 yards at Indiana. 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 Saturday’s win over Michigan State, Krenzel completed 12-of-23 passes for 213 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.

Split end Michael Jenkins is one of the nation’s top receivers. The 6-5 senior had a pair of receptions in Saturday’s 33-23 win over Michigan State and currently paces the Buckeye in receptions (35) receiving yardage (483) and touchdown receptions (5). He has caught passes in 36-consecutive games and is the fourth leading receiver in Ohio State history both in number of catches (145) and receiving yards (2,547). 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 has started on both sides of the ball in each of the Buckeyes’ past two games, getting the nod at cornerback and flanker. He had one reception and five tackles in Saturday’s 33-23 win over Michigan State. 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.

Mike Nugent is coming off a spectacular sophomore year in which he set nine school kicking records, led the team in scoring and won first-team All-America honors. Nugent finished second in the voting for the Lou Groza award last year and should be a finalist again this year. Nugent has made 13-of-15 attempts this year, including a career-long 53-yard shot in the win over Iowa and all four of his attempts last week against Michigan State. He is 38-of-43 since the beginning of last year.

The Buckeyes also boast three of the top defensive linemen in the nation in seniors Will Smith, Darrion Scott and Tim Anderson. Smith has been named as one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award and is one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks defensive end award. The agile, 6-4, 265-pound Smith has 17.5 tackles-for-loss, 9.5 sacks and 39 total tackles on the year. He has 10.5 tackles-for-loss and six sacks in his last five games.

Five Ohio State players have been nominated for the Verizon Academic All-America team which is selected annually by a vote of college sports information directors across the country. 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. The Ohio State nominees are: quarterback Craig Krenzel, tight end Ben Hartsock, running back Maurice Hall, cornerback Dustin Fox and safety Will Allen.

Mike Nugent’s 53-yard field goal in the win over Iowa was the second longest field goal in Ohio Stadium history by a Buckeye and the fourth longest in school history. The Ohio Stadium record for an OSU player is 55 yards by Dan Stultz in 1997. Former three-time All-American Tom Skladany holds the school record with a 59-yard trey at Illinois in 1975. Gary Cairns (1966) also has a 55-yard field goals to his credit and Bob Atha had a 53-yard boot at Purdue in 1981. Nugent already holds 10 school kicking records. In Saturday’s win over Michigan State, Nugent hit a personal-high four field goals and is now 13-of-15 on the year and 45-of-57 for his career.

Quarterback Craig Krenzel ranks eighth in career passing yards at Ohio State with 3,857. Jim Karsatos (1984-86) is in seventh place with 5,089 yards.

Krenzel also ranks 10th in career total offense at OSU with 4,382 yards. Krenzel moved around former Ohio State quarterback Rex Kern (1968-70) with 246 total yards against Michigan State. The No. 9 spot belongs to quarterback Cornelius Greene (4,414 yards between 1972 and 1975).

Split end Michael Jenkins is fourth in both career receptions (145) and career receiving yards (2,547) at OSU. Jenkins needs 10 receptions and 179 yards to move into third place on the OSU career lists.

Kicker Mike Nugent has 45 career field goals. The school record of 59 belongs to Dan Stultz (1996-2000). Nugent has made 45-of-57 attempts and ranks first in career percentage with a fanciful .789 figure.

In seven home games this year, the Buckeyes have drawn a total of 733,677 fans for an average of 104,811 per game. The single-season total and average attendance records of 827,904 and 103,488, respectively, were set last year. With a crowd of more than 105,000 expected for this week’s Purdue game, both marks will fall.

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).

With the victory over visiting Michigan State 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 755-293-53. That is a wining percentage of .710 for the Scarlet and Gray who played game No. 1,100 at Penn State.

Ohio State began Big Ten play in 1913. With this year’s 5-1 start, the Buckeyes currently have an all-time conference record of 413-156-24 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).

The Buckeyes own an all-time record of 349-101-20 (.764) since Ohio Stadium was opened in 1922. Heading into this week’s home finale against Purdue, Ohio State has won games 15 in a row in the Horseshoe, last losing to Illinois in the final home game of the 2001 season.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Purdue is 8-2 on the year and is looking to win nine games for the third time in coach Joe Tiller’s seven seasons in West Lafayette. The Boilers are tied with Ohio State and Michigan for first place in the Big Ten with a 5-1 record. Michigan beat Purdue 31-3 Oct. 25 in the only conference blemish. Following a 27-26 loss to Bowling Green in the season opener, the Boilermakers have won eight of nine games, including non-conference matchups with Wake Forest, Arizona and Notre Dame to go with Big Ten victories against Illinois, Penn State, Wisconsin, Northwestern and against Iowa last week.

The Boilermakers are averaging 380.9 yards and 28.5 points per game. Those numbers include 221.1 yards passing and 159.8 yards rushing. Quarterback Kyle Orton has completed 193-of-313 passes for 2,184 yards and 12 touchdowns against four interceptions. He is completing 61.7 percent of his passes for an average of 218.4 yards per game. His favorite targets include Taylor Stubblefield, who has 68 receptions for 633 yards and three touchdowns, and John Standeford, who has 56 grabs for 841 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, Jerod Void has 167 carries for 688 yards and 11 touchdowns, including a career-high 34 carries for 120 yards against Iowa,

Defensively, Purdue is holding opponents to 283.1 yards and 16.0 points per game. The Boilermakers have the seventh-ranked rush defense allowing only 82.6 yards per game. The squad allows 200.5 yards passing. Purdue is also pretty good when it comes to turnovers, ranking third nationally in turnover margin (1.50). Led by Stuart Schweigert’s four picks, the defense has 13 interceptions to go with 12 recovered fumbles. Purdue has turned over the ball only 10 times this season. Shaun Phillips has 12.5 sacks the season and 19.5 tackles for loss for defense that has recorded 29 sacks this season.

Jerod Void ran for a career high 120 yards and two touchdowns to help lead Purdue to a 27-14 victory over Iowa last Saturday. Void scored from nine yards out on the Boilermaker’s first possession. Purdue kicked a pair of field goals in the second quarter to take a 13-0 lead at halftime. Kyle Orton hit Anthony Chambers for a 45-yard score to open the third quarter before Void added a 1-yard TD on the ground to build a 27-0 lead. Iowa scored the final 14 points of the game. Purdue ran for 154 yards and added 167 through the air, while holding Iowa to 98 yards rushing and 203 passing.

Joe Tiller (Montana State, 1965) is in his seventh season at Purdue, where his teams have gone 54-30. Now in his 13th year as a collegiate head coach, having previously coached six years at Wyoming, his teams are 93-60-1. He has guided the Boilermakers to six straight winning seasons and six straight bowl bids. His tenure at Purdue is highlighted by the 2000 Big Ten Championship and appearance in the Rose Bowl. His first two Boilermaker teams (1997, 1998) won nine games and this year’s team. Tiller’s coaching stops along the way include assistant positions at Purdue (1983-86), Wyoming (1987-88), Washington State (1971-73 and 1989-90) and Montana State (1965-70). He spent nine seasons with the Calgary Stampede of the Canadian Football League from 1974-82.

Ohio State closes out the regular season next week at Michigan. The game will be televised by ABC and will kick off shortly after noon.