Dec. 12, 2001
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BUCKEYES RETURN TO TAMPA
On the heels of an impressive 26-20 win over 11th-ranked Michigan, Ohio State accepted an invitation to play in the 2002 Outback Bowl Jan. 1 in Tampa, Fla. The Buckeyes, who finished the regular season with a 7-4 record for all games and a 5-3 mark in Big Ten play, will be making their second consecutive and fourth overall appearance in the Outback Bowl. Additionally, this is Ohio State’s 33rd bowl trip and seventh New Year’s Day appearance in the past eight years.
OHIO STATE COACH JIM TRESSEL ON THE OUTBACK BOWL
“We are honored to be invited to such a prestigious bowl game and excited by the opportunity to play on New Year’s Day. I am really thrilled for our seniors. They have displayed tremendous leadership this year and this is a great way for them to close out their careers, especially in a venue like Raymond James Stadium,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said.
FROM THE PLAYERS PERSPECTIVE
“We didn’t play real well down there last year (a 24-7 loss to South Carolina), so this is a chance for us to hopefully redeem ourselves,” said linebacker Joe Cooper.
Added fullback Jamar Martin, “I am excited about getting another chance in this bowl. I know we are facing a tough opponent, but I am looking forward to the challenge.”
THE BUCKEYES’ TRAVEL PLANS
Ohio State will begin bowl practice on Dec. 7 following final exams. The Buckeyes will depart for Florida on Dec. 21 and will stay at the Wyndham Harbour Island Hotel while in Tampa. The team will practice at the University of South Florida. More detailed travel plans and practice times will be announced later.
ABOUT THE BUCKEYES
The Buckeyes 7-4 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten. The latter was good for third place in the final league standings. OSU was 4-2 at home and 3-2 on the road. At the end of the regular-season they were ranked 22nd in the Associated Press poll and 23rd in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll.
OHIO STATE’S BOWL HISTORY
Ohio State made its first bowl appearance in 1921, losing to Southern Cal, 28-0, in the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes next bowl appearance was a 17-14 win over Cal in the 1951 Rose Bowl. In 1954, ’57 and ’68, Ohio State clinched national championships by winning Rose Bowl games. The Buckeyes first appearance in a bowl other than the Rose Bowl was a 27-10 victory over Colorado in the 1977 Orange Bowl. Their first non-New Year’s Day bowl was a 17-15 setback at the hands of Clemson following the 1978 season in the Gator Bowl. This will be Ohio State’s fourth appearance in Tampa. The Buckeyes are 0-3 to date, losing to Auburn (31-14) in 1990, Syracuse (24-17) in 1992 and South Carolina last year (24-7). Ohio State’s overall bowl record is 14-18.
WBNS RADIO FEEDS STATEWIDE NETWORK
Buckeye fans can hear all of this year’s New Year’s Day 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 lineman Jim Lachey serves as the color analyst for the broadcast. Another ex-Buckeye, quarterback 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.
ESPN WILL TELEVISE THE GAME NATIONALLY
ESPN has the telecast rights to the Outback Bowl and will televise the game nationally at 11 a.m. from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Ron Franklin, Mike Gottfried and Adrian Karstan will call the game.
OHIO STATE AGAINST THE SEC
The Buckeyes have an all-time record of 7-7-2 against teams from the Southeastern Conference: Alabama 0-3-0 (last meeting 1995), Arkansas 0-0-0, Auburn 0-1-1 (last meeting 1990), Florida 0-0-0, Georgia 0-1-0 (last meeting 1993), Kentucky 3-0-0 (last meeting 1935), LSU 1-0-1 (last meeting 1988), Mississippi 0-0-0, Mississippi State 0-0-0, South Carolina 0-1-0 (last meeting 2001), Tennessee 0-1-0 (last meeting 1996), Vanderbilt 3-1-0 (last meeting 1933).
OHIO STATE COACH JIM TRESSEL
With a 7-4 mark in his first year as head coach at Ohio State, Jim Tressel now sports a lifetime record of 142-61-2. 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.
BENTLEY THE CENTER OF ALL-AMERICA ATTENTION
Ohio State center LeCharles Bentley has been named to a first-team berth on the Football Coaches, the Football Writers, the Walter Camp and the Sporting News All-America teams. He also won the second annual Rimington Award as the top center in college football. In the Big Ten, Bentley was named the offensive lineman of the year and to the all-conference first-team. He started all 11 games during the regular season and played EVERY PLAY with the exception of punts and placement kicks. The 6-2, 300-pound senior from Cleveland, was named Player of the Game following the UCLA game and was a five-time pick as Offensive Lineman of the Week. He graded out to a winning performance in every game and was above 90% in nine of the 11 games.
DOSS REPEATS AS ALL-AMERICA
Safety Michael Doss was named to a first-team berth on the Walter Camp All-America team. Doss, who also was a semi-finalist for the Thorpe Award, led the team in tackles with 79. The 5-11 junior, renowned for his fierce hitting, also blocked two punts, led the team in tackles for loss and had three interceptions. He also scored on a 30-yard fumble recovery and led the Big Ten in recovered fumbles. Doss also was named to the Sporting News All-America team in 2000. He is Ohio State’s 29th two-time All-America. The Buckeyes have had six three-time All-Americans, the last of which was kicker Tom Skladany (1974-76).
WELLS NAMED TEAM MVP
Senior tailback Jonathan Wells was selected by his teammates as the Buckeyes’ MVP for 2001. The 6-1, 230-pound Wells led the Buckeyes in rushing (1,257 yards) and scoring (90 points on 15 touchdowns). He closed out the season by rushing for 100 or more yards in five consecutive games, including a career-high 192 against Illinois and 129 against Michigan. In the latter game, he had 122 yards at halftime, before being forced to leave the game because of leg cramps. In the Buckeyes last five games, Wells rolled up 717 yards and scored eight touchdowns on 112 carries, an average of 6.4 yards per carry. His rushing total this year is currently the 11th best in Ohio State history. He is the 16th Buckeye to top the 1,000-yard mark in a season. His 232 attempts are the most by an Ohio State back since Pepe Pearson (299 for 1,484 yards) in 1996. Wells finished third in the Big Ten with an average of 114.3 yards per game rushing. He was 19th nationally. Wells now has 2,344 career rushing yards, a total that places him 12th in school annals. He has topped the 100-yard mark seven times this year and nine times during his career. Ohio State is 7-2 when he tops the century figure.
COOPER AGAIN VOTED MOST INSPIRATIONAL
Senior linebacker Joe Cooper was selected by his teammates as the Buckeyes Most Inspirational Player for 2001. The fiery Cooper, a rare two-time captain for the Buckeyes, also won the award last year. Cooper finished the regular season with 74 total tackles, five behind team leader Michael Doss. His 60 solo stops topped the squad.
SURE-HANDED JENKINS PACES OSU RECEIVERS
Split end Michael Jenkins paced the Buckeyes in receiving during the regular season with 41 catches for 836 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-4 sophomore had five receptions of 40 or more yards, including grabs of 66 and 68 yards at Penn State. Against PSU, he totalled four receptions for 172 yards. He also topped the 100-yard mark in the season opener against Akron, hauling in six passes for 106 yards, and against Illinois with 10 receptions for 155 yards. His yardage total through the 11 games is the most by an Ohio State receiver since David Boston had 1,435 in 1998. It is also the 11th best in Ohio State history.
OHIO STATE’S ALL BIG TEN PICKS
Three Ohio State players – center LeCharles Bentley, offensive tackle Tyson Walter, safety Mike Doss – have been named to first-team berths on the All-Big Ten team. Additionally, linebacker Joe Cooper, cornerback Derek Ross, defensive tackle Mike Collins, punter Andy Groom and tailback Jonathan Wells were named to the second team. Defensive tackle Tim Anderson, defensive end Darrion Scott, linebacker Matt Wilhelm and safety Donnie Nickey took home honorable-mention honors.
SENIOR SEND OFF
This will be the final game for 12 Ohio State seniors: Steve Bellisari, LeCharles Bentley, Courtland Bullard, Tim Cheatwood, Mike Collins, Joe Cooper, Mike Jacobs, Jim Kortovich, Jamar Martin, Ben Steele, Jonathan Wells and Tyson Walter.
GROOM FOURTH NATIONALLY
Junior punter Andy Groom wound up second in the Big Ten and fourth nationally in punting in 2001 with an average of 45.0 yards per punt on 44 attempts. Groom, a former walk-on from Columbus who was converted to scholarship at the beginning of the year, dropped 16 punts inside the 20. The Ohio State single-season record for best punting average (47.1) belongs to Tom Tupa and was set in 1984. Groom’s current average is the sixth highest in Ohio State annals.
ROSS COMING HOME AFTER IMPRESSIVE ROOKIE SEASON
Freshman tailback Lydell Ross, who a year ago at this time was a senior at Gaither High School in Tampa, finished the 2001 regular season as Ohio State’s second leading rusher with 406 yards on 119 carries. He also was the Buckeyes’ third leading scorer with six touchdowns. Ross rushed for 124 yards against Indiana on Sept. 29, in the process joining Robert Smith (1990) and Archie Griffin (1972) as the only Ohio State freshmen ever to top the century mark in a game. Ross, born Dec. 18, 1983, is believed to be the youngest Big Ten back ever to rush for 100 yards in a game.
KRENZEL MAKES THE MOST OF HIS FIRST START
Sophomore quarterback Craig Krenzel made his first collegiate start against Michigan and responded by leading the Buckeyes to a 26-20 victory, their first win in Ann Arbor since 1987 (seven games). The 6-4, 215-pound Krenzel, a native of Utica, Michigan, completed 11-of-18 passes for 118 yards against the Wolverines. That effort followed a solid showing the previous week against Illinois in which he came off the bench to connect on 11-of-23 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown in his first action of any kind in 2001. Prior to the Illinois game, Krenzel had appeared in seven games and completed 5-of-9 passes, with all of that action coming in 2000.
BELLISARI THIRD IN CAREER TOTAL OFFENSE
With 1,603 yards this year, senior quarterback Steve Bellisari has 6,166 yards in career total offense at Ohio State, a total that ranks him third on the all-time OSU list behind only Art Schlichter and Bobby Hoying. The 6-3 senior has thrown for 5,558 yards during his career and 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. Steve Bellisari 6,166 1,019 atts. 1998-01 4. Greg Frey 6,098 988 atts. 1987-90 5. Joe Germaine 6,094 852 atts. 1996-98 6. Mike Tomczak 6,015 858 atts. 1981-83 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 5,558 365-724 1998-01 7. Jim Karsatos 5,089 359-629 1983-86
WALTER STREAK NOW STANDS AT 48
Senior Tyson Walter, who sat out all of last year with a back injury, returned to action this season and started every game, giving the 6-5, 300-pound senior a string of 48-consecutive starts as the Buckeyes head into this year’s bowl game on Jan. 1. The versatile Walter started two games a left guard (Akron and Indiana) and the other nine at left tackle this season. Walter was the Buckeyes’ offensive lineman of the week on four occasions this year – Akron, UCLA, Wisconsin and Michigan
BUCKEYE INJURY REPORT
Sophomore split end Drew Carter, who missed the first two games of the year with a foot injury, suffered a knee injury prior to the Indiana game. He underwent surgery following the latter and has subsequently been ruled out for the remainder of the season. Prior to being hurt in fall camp, Carter was penciled in as a starter. He had six receptions last year. Offensive tackle Shane Olivea suffered a broken left ankle against Michigan and will not be available for the bowl game. The 6-5, 320-pound Olivea started all 11 games.
THE fLORIDA CONNECTION
There are 10 players on the Ohio State roster who prepped in Florida: Steve Bellisari (Boca Raton), Bryce Bishop (Miami Killian), Bobby Britton (Jacksonville Raines), Courtland Bullard (Miami Southridge), Chris Gamble (Sunrise Dillard), Michael Jenkins (Tampa Leto), Thomas Matthews (Ft. Lauderdale Dillard), Scott Petroff (Winter Park Lake Howell), Lydell Ross (Tampa Gaither) and Chris Vance (Ft. Meyers).
VANCE MAKES “THE CATCH”
For years to come, when fans and pundits talk about the best catch ever in Ohio Stadium, Chris Vance’s spectacular 7-yard touchdown grab against Purdue two weeks ago will figure into the conversation. With the Buckeyes facing third-and-goal on the Purdue 7, quarterback Steve Bellisari launched a pass toward the 6-2 Vance in the right corner of the end zone. Most of the 104,189 fans on hand in the Horseshoe thought the ball was overthrown, but Vance somehow elevated to the ball and speared it with one hand. Then, maybe even more amazingly, the glue-fingered junior got a foot down in the back of the end zone. “I practice one-hand catches all the time,” said Vance. “I was just lucky enough to get this one.”
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel can’t remember ever seeing a better catch in Ohio Stadium, but he did see one that was very similar in the 1986 Citrus Bowl.
“Our quarterback (Jim Karsatos) was being chased down and threw the ball toward the sideline. I thought it was going out of bounds, but somehow Cris Carter went up and caught it and got a foot down. It was one of the best catches I have ever seen. Chris Vance’s catch was the same type of play,” said Tressel.
Vance had career highs in receptions (7) and yardage (138) against Purdue. It was the second straight 100-yard game for the first-year transfer from Fort Scott Community College, who had five receptions for 101 yards against Minnesota the previous week.
Both games came after Vance learned (Wednesday of Minnesota week) that his father had passed away.
“I think he would be proud of me, and I know he is looking down on me,” said Vance, who had 29 catches for 544 yards and a team-best four touchdowns on the year.
THE CLASS OF 2004
Seven true freshmen – 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 – saw action during the regular season. Ross was the Buckeyes’ second leading rusher and scorer. Fox was the first freshman to start, getting the call at nickel back against Northwestern. Gamble made his first collegiate start against Illinois. Fraser saw extensive action with the defensive line. Nugent was the regular field-goal kicker and Hall led the team in kick return yardage.
HARTSOCK NOMINATED FOR ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA
Sophomore tight end Ben Hartsock was 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.
SIX WALK-ONS RECEIVE SCHOLARSHIPS
Six members of the Ohio State football team were 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 are in the press box during the game, assisted by offensive graduate assistant Jim Bridge. Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman and running backs coach Tim Spencer are on the sidelines. Defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio, defensive backs mentor Mel Tucker and grad assistant Brandon Blaney are in the press box, while linebackers coach Mark Snyder, defensive line coach Jim Heacock and special teams coordinator Ken Conatser are 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. 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 REACH BIG TEN MILESTONE
With the win over Michigan in this year’s regular-season finale, Ohio State joined the Wolverines as the only two Big Ten teams to have 400 conference victories. The Buckeyes’ all-time Big Ten record now stands at 400-155-24.
BUCKEYES MEMBER OF ELITE 700 CLUB
One of the most successful programs in college football, Ohio State now has an all-time record of 732-291-53 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
The Buckeyes were 3-2 against ranked teams during the regular season. OSU defeated Northwestern (No.14), Purdue (No. 24) and Michigan (No. 11) and lost to UCLA (No. 12) and Illinois (No. 12).
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.
GAME 7: AT 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 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.
GAME 8: AT MINNESOTA
Quarterback Steve Bellisari threw for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns and tailback Jonathan Wells rushed for 152 yards and two scores as the Buckeyes downed Minnesota 31-28. With the offensive line playing its best overall game of the year (no sacks allowed and gaping holes for the running backs), the Buckeyes amassed 468 yards in total offense, including 265 on the ground.
The Buckeyes led 14-13 at the half, then fell behind 20-14 before scoring 17-unanswered points, the last three of which came on a 35-yard field goal by freshman kicker Mike Nugent. After Minnesota cut the deficit to 31-28, Ohio State recovered an on-side kick and ran out the clock behind the ball-control running of Wells. Flanker Chris Vance had his best game as a Buckeye, hauling in five receptions for 101 yards. In addition to 203 yards passing, Bellisari rushed for 66 yards. Linebacker Joe Cooper led the Ohio State defense with eight tackles, one more than defensive linemen Tim Anderson, Darrion Scott and Will Smith. Anderson, who forced two fumbles and had a pair of sacks, was named Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week. All-America safety Mike Doss added an interception.
GAME 9: PURDUE
The Buckeyes had an overall solid performance against Purdue. Before a then Ohio Stadium record crowd of 104,189, Ohio State routed the visiting Boilermakers by a final count of 35-9. The win was the second straight for the Buckeyes, who a week earlier edged Minnesota, 31-28, in Minneapolis. The Buckeyes never trailed against the Boilers, jumping out to 12-0 lead on a 36-yard Mike Nugent field goal, a safety and then a 15-yard run by tailback Jonathan Wells. Purdue closed to within six at the half, at 12-6, but the Buckeyes scored 23-unanswered points (including a second safety) after intermission to salt the game away. Wells finished with 101 yards on 21 carries for his third-consecutive 100-yard game. Quarterback Steve Bellisari turned in his second straight impressive performance, completing 14-of-20 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns, in the process tying his career high for TD passes. And flanker Chris Vance was a one-man highlight show, catching seven passes for 138 yards and one touchdown. Defensive end Kenny Peterson led a balanced effort with five tackles, including two tackles-for-loss. The Buckeyes also had three interceptions, including the seventh of the year by cornerback Derek Ross. The Buckeyes rolled up 429 yards in total offense and held Purdue to just 211, a season low by an opponent.
GAME 10: ILLINOIS
The Buckeyes fell out of Big Ten title contention with a 34-22 loss to Illinois. The visiting Illini jumped off to a 7-0 start on a blocked punt, but Ohio State came back to take a 10-7 lead at the end of the first period. Illinois scored a pair of touchdowns just before the half to take a 21-10 lead, but the Buckeyes, behind the running of senior tailback Jonathan Wells, battled back to build a 22-21 lead with one second left in the third quarter. Illinois, however, scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to put the game away. Wells turned in his best overall performance as a Buckeye, running for a personal-best 192 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Quarterbacks Scott McMullen (who made his first career start) and Craig Krenzel (who made his first appearance of the year) combined to throw for 206 yards and a pair of touchdowns as replacements for suspended starter Steve Bellisari. Split end Michael Jenkins was on the receiving end of 10 of those tosses, good for 155 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown. Linebacker Joe Cooper had a game-high seven solos and 10 tackles.
GAME 11: AT MICHIGAN
The Buckeyes jumped out to a stunning 23-0 lead in the first half behind the running of tailback Jonathan Wells, who shredded the Michigan defense for 122 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. Wells scored on runs of 1, 46 and 11 yards to put OSU on top 21-0 with 4:34 to play. His first and third touchdowns followed interceptions by the OSU defense and his 46-yard run came on fourth-and-one. A Michigan safety with 35 seconds left in the half sent Ohio State into the locker room with what turned out to be an insurmountable lead. With Wells out in the second half with leg cramps and starting tackle Shane Olivea shelved with a broken ankle, the Buckeyes lead shrank to 26-20 with 2:26 to play. But OSU’s Chris Vance recovered an on-side kick and Ohio State recorded its first victory in Ann Arbor since 1987, in the process locking up undisputed possession of third place in the final Big Ten standings. The loss cost the Wolverines a share of the Big Ten title and a BCS berth. The Buckeye defense recorded three sacks (two by end Will Smith) and forced five turnovers, including a pair of interceptions by safety Mike Doss.
GEORGE JOINS SELECT CIRCLE
Former Ohio State All-America and 1995 Heisman Trophy recipient Eddie George had his number (27) retired at the Nov. 10 Purdue-Ohio State game. George is the fifth Ohio State football player to have his jersey number retired, joining Archie Griffin (45), Vic Janowicz (31), Howard “Hopalong” Cassady (40) and Les Horvath (22). Griffin was honored in 1999, Janowicz and Cassady in 2000, and Horvath earlier this year at the Northwestern game on Oct. 6. The numbers of all five players are on permanent display on the faade below “C” Deck in the north end of Ohio Stadium.
ATTENDANCE MARKS FALL
With an increased capacity of 101,568 in Ohio Stadium this year, the Buckeyes set a single-season attendance record for six home games with an average of 103,532 per game, easily eclipsing the old mark of 97,757 set last year. A total of 621,102 fans passed through the Ohio Stadium gates in 2001, including a single-game record 104,407 for the home season finale with Illinois. On the year, the Buckeyes drew a combined total of 1,008,797 in 11 games, an average of 91,708. The Ohio State record of 1,078,350 was set in 13 games in 1995.