Nov. 8, 2003

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Transcript of Ohio State Post Game Press Conference

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Senior quarterback Craig Krenzel connected on three touchdown passes and kicker Mike Nugent added four field goals to enable the Ohio State to pull away in the second half and post a 33-23 Big Ten win over Michigan State Saturday afternoon in front of 105,194 fans, the second largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history.

The Buckeyes, in winning their 15th straight at home, improved to 9-1 on the year and 5-1 in Big Ten play. Michigan State lost its second consecutive conference game, falling to 7-3 and 4-2 in the Big Ten.

The Buckeyes opened the second half with a dominating eight-play drive capped by a two-yard pass from quarterback Krenzel to tight end Ryan Hamby. The play gave Ohio State a 24-10 lead.

The Spartans shocked the Buckeyes on the ensuing kickoff as DeAndra Cobb squirted through the middle and broke free down the sideline on a 93-yard kickoff return. The extra point brought the Spartans back to within a touchdown at 24-17, but Michigan State would not threaten again until late in the fourth quarter.

Nugent capped off the next three Ohio State drives with field goals, the last coming with 5:18 to play in the game, an 18-yarder for a 33-17 advantage.

Michigan State scored its second touchdown of the game with 3:21 to play in the game on a 19-yard pass from quarterback Jeff Smoker to Aaron Alexander. The two-point conversion attempt failed. The Spartans had one more chance, starting from their own 9-yard line, but Smoker misfired on three pass attempts and was sacked on fourth down. Ohio State ran out the final 1:05 in the game.

The Buckeyes posted 395 total yards of offense in a fairly balanced attack. The Buckeyes picked up 182 yards on the ground, including 125 yards by Lydell Ross, to go with 213 yards passing, all by Krenzel. The Ohio State defense, best in the nation against the run, limited the Spartans to only five yards rushing. The other 373 yards came via the pass as Smoker completed 35-of-55 passes for 351 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. Aaron Alexander accounted for the other 22 yards. Krenzel was 12-for-23 for the three scores to go with one pick by the Michigan State defense.

Michigan State struck first in the game, moving the ball 95 yards on seven plays in 3 minutes, 36 seconds on its second possession of the game. Smoker hit Agim Shabaj on a 22-yards scoring strike with 6:31 to play in the first quarter. Smoker set up the play with a 47-yard completion to Ziehl Kavanaght two plays before the scoring strike.

The Buckeyes answered on their next possession as Nugent nailed the first of his field goals, a 44-yarder with 2:20 to play in the first quarter to pull the Buckeyes within 7-3. The kick capped a 10-play, 52-yard drive that was highlighted by a 29-yard completion from Krenzel to tight end Ryan Hamby. The points were the first scored against Michigan State in conference play in the first quarter this season.

Ohio State would score two more times before Spartans added a Dave Rayner field goal late in the second quarter.

The first of those scores came as Tyler Everett ended another Michigan State scoring threat at the OSU 6-yard line. Stepping in front of a Smoker pass, he returned the interception 66 yards to the MSU 28. Krenzel found Hartsock five plays later for the Buckeyes’ first touchdown of the game, giving the Buckeyes a 10-7 lead with 10:53 to play in the second quarter.

Santonio Holmes caught a 37-yard pass from Krenzel despite pass interference on the play, shed a tackle and dove into the end zone to give the Buckeyes a 17-7 lead with 6:28 remaining in the first half. The other big play of the drive was a 21-yard catch by Michael Jenkins down the right sideline. There were a total of three plays covering 60 yards and 54 seconds.

Rayner pulled the Spartans within a touchdown when nailed a 48-yard field goal with 3:13 remaining in the first half. The kick ended an eight-play, 51-yard drive that consumed 3:08 and was marked by seven pass plays.

The Buckeyes held Michigan State to zero yards rushing in the first half, but surrendered 287 yards passing by Smoker. Ohio State picked up 42 yards on the ground and 120 yards in the air for 162 total yards through the first two quarters.

Ohio State moved right down the field on the opening possession of the second half and extended its lead to 24-10 with 11:42 to play in the third quarter. The drive went 80 yards on eight plays highlighted by a 29-yard reception by Michael Jenkins and an 18-yard reception by Roy Hall. That followed with five carries by Ross for 31 yards before Krenzel found Hamby in the right corner of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown.

Michigan State answered the score by returning the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown that again closed the Buckeye lead to seven points after Rayner added the point after. The return was DeAndra Cobb’s third return for a TD this season, which set the school’s single season record. It was the first return for a touchdown since 1984, when Michigan State’s Larry Jackson also had a 93-yard return for TD.

On an 11-play, 72-yard drive that was accented by a 20-yard sideline reception by Hartsock, the Buckeyes again built a 10-point lead. Nugent kicked a 24-yard field with 6:14 to play in the third period.

Nugent banged through this third field goal of the day, this time from 42 yards, with 12:57 to play in the game. The kick finished off a 10-play, 55-yard drive that consumed 3:25 of the clock and gave the Buckeyes a 30-17 lead. Nugent added his final kick from 18 yards out with 5:18 to play in the game. Nugent has made 13-of-15 field goals this season.

Ohio State will play host to Purdue next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The home finale will be televised by ABC-TV.