Nov. 6, 2006
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Top-ranked and unbeaten Ohio State concludes its two-game road swing Saturday at Northwestern. The Buckeyes and Wildcats will play at 3:36 p.m., EST, in Ryan Field (cap: 47,130). The game will be televised by ABC and broadcast by WBNS Radio.
Ohio State is 10-0 on the year and 6-0 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes stretched the nation’s longest winning streak to 17 in a row this past weekend with a hard-fought 17-10 victory at Illinois. The win was Ohio State’s 13th-consecutive Big Ten triumph and the seventh straight road victory.
Jim Tressel’s team holds down the top spot in the BCS rankings and is No. 1 in all three major polls.
Northwestern is 3-7 for all games and 1-5 in league play. The Wildcats recorded their first conference win of the season this past Saturday with a 21-7 upset of Iowa in Iowa City. Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats are 1-3 at home this year.
OHIO STATE TRAVEL PLANS
The Ohio State travel party will depart Columbus via private charter on Friday afternoon and will stay at the Wyndham Suites in Glenview, Ill. The Buckeyes are scheduled to return to Columbus immediately after the game.
BUCKEYES UNANIMOUS NO. 1
Ohio State continues to hold down the top spot in the Bowl Championship Series with a ranking of .9865. Michigan is second with a .9706 figure and Louisville has moved up to third at .8907. All three teams are unbeaten.
The Buckeyes also are No. 1 in the Associated Press, USA Today-Coaches and Harris Interactive polls. Ohio State received all 63 first-place votes from the coaches and all 65 first-place votes from the writers, while it got 113 of 114 first-place votes in the Harris poll.
The Buckeyes have been in the Top 25 for 24-consecutive weeks, including 12 straight appearances in the Top 10 and 11 straight at No. 1.
SIX NOMINATED FOR ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Six Ohio State football players have been nominated for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors: Doug Datish, Anthony Gonzalez, James Laurinaitis, Joel Penton, Brian Robiskie and Stan White Jr. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 on a 4.00 scale, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings and be nominated by his sports information director.
OHIO STATE AWARDS CANDIDATES
Heisman Trophy candidate Troy Smith has been named as a semi-finalist for the Maxwell Award as college football’s player of the year and is also a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Additionally, defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock has been named as a semi-finalist for both the Lombardi Award and the Lott Trophy and linebacker James Laurinaitis is a semi-finalist for the Butkus and the Bednarik awards; while flanker Ted Ginn Jr. is a semi-finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Center Doug Datish (Rimington Award) and tailback Antonio Pittman (Doak Walker Award) were both on preseason watch lists and are still in contention for those awards.
SMITH IN CONTROL AT THE CONTROLS
With Saturday’s win at Illinois, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith is now 23-2 as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback, including a 9-1 mark against ranked teams. Smith has completed 158 of his 237 passes this year, good for 2,006 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has been intercepted just three times, and two of those were deflections. Smith leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency with a 165.9 figure and also leads the league in touchdown passes. He has thrown at least one TD pass in nine of the Buckeyes’ first 10 games and has two or more TD tosses in seven of those contests. Smith has the lowest career interception rate in the nation among active quarterbacks with a mark of 1.67 (10 interceptions, 596 attempts). Smith also has rushed for 206 yards and a touchdown.
SOME CAREER NUMBERS FOR SMITH
Quarterback Troy Smith is the all-time completion percentage leader in Ohio State history, connecting on 62.9 percent of his passes (375 of 596). He also ranks fourth in career total offense with 6,354 yards and seventh in career passing yards with 5,184 yards. Smith has thrown 46 career touchdown passes, the fourth highest total in Ohio State annals. The school record of 57 belongs to Bobby Hoying (1992-95).
PITTMAN NEARS 1,000-YARD MARK
Ohio State tailback Antonio Pittman has 952 yards on the year. The 5-foot-11-inch junior, who rushed for 1,331 yards a year ago, is bidding to become the first OSU running back since Eddie George (1994-95) to put together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
Pittman has six 100-yard games this year and 14 for his career. He is third in the Big Ten in rushing at 95.2 yards per game and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry on 195 attempts. Both runners ahead of him in the Big Ten rushing derby have significantly more carries. Pittman also leads the Buckeyes in scoring with 11 touchdowns, four more than he had all of last year. He has at least one TD run in nine of the Buckeyes’ 10 games (he did not score against Indiana).
Only George, Archie Griffin (1973-74-75), Tim Spencer (1981-82) and Keith Byars (1983-84) have rushed for consecutive 1,000-yard seasons at Ohio State.
THE `FUN BUNCH’
The Buckeye “Fun Bunch” of quarterback Troy Smith, wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez and tailback Antonio Pittman continues to excel.
Smith has completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 2,006 yards and 22 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1-inch senior also has rushed for 206 yards and a touchdown.
Ginn has a team-high seven touchdown grabs on 49 receptions and is averaging 13.0 yards per catch, while Gonzalez has 43 receptions, is averaging a team-high 14.9 yards per catch and has six TD receptions.
Pittman is the Buckeyes’ leading ground gainer with 952 yards on 195 carries and has a team-leading 11 touchdowns to his credit. The hard-running junior has six 100-yard games this year.
Ohio State’s wide-receiver tandem of Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez have combined for 92 receptions, 1,276 yards and 13 touchdown catches. Ginn is second in the Big Ten in average receptions per game at 4.9 and is tied for second in touchdown receptions. Gonzalez ranks third in average receiving yards per game at 63.9 and has converted an amazing 37 of his receptions into first downs.
GINN STREAKS CONTINUE
Ohio State receiver Ted Ginn Jr. has caught at least one pass in 29-consecutive games (beginning with Iowa in 2004) and has multiple catches in 27-consecutive games. His 10 receptions against Bowling Green earlier this year represents a career best, bettering his previous high of nine set last year at Michigan
The Buckeye junior is seventh on the all-time OSU receiving list with 125 receptions. He also ranks 11th in career receiving yards with 1,799 yards – an average of 14.4 yards per reception. He needs 11 yards to take over 10th place in career receiving yards, surpassing Jeff Graham (1,809). He also needs just two more receptions to equal his total of a year ago.
Junior split end Anthony Gonzalez had two receptions for 18 yard at Illinois. Gonzalez has 43 receptions on the year and 37 of those, including eight of the last nine, have resulted in first downs. Gonzalez has six touchdown catches and leads the team in receiving yards with 639.
SOME STREAKS OF NOTE
Ohio State’s current 17-game winning streak is the longest in the nation and the third longest in the modern era for the Buckeyes. Between 1967 and 1969, the Buckeyes reeled off 22-consecutive victories, including 17 straight Big Ten wins, for the longest streak in OSU annals. In 2002 and 2003, Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes rolled to 19-consecutive victories, including a perfect 14-0 record and the national championship in 2002. The current streak began last year against Michigan State.
The 2006 Buckeyes are just the sixth Ohio State team to get out of the starting gate with a perfect 10-0 record. Only four Ohio State squads – the 1975, 1979, 1995 and 2002 teams – have notched 11 straight victories to start the season. Three of those four – the 1975, ’79 and ’95 teams – lost their 12th game. The 2002 team went on to finish the season at 14-0.
This is the fourth Ohio State team to reach 10 wins under sixth-year head coach Jim Tressel. The 2002 team won the national championship with a 14-0 record, while his 2003 team finished 11-2. Last year’s team was 10-2. The Buckeyes have played in a BCS bowl each year they have won at least 10 games under Tressel. The 2006 team is the 16th squad in Ohio State history to win at least 10 games in a season.
HOW OSU GOT TO 10-0
The Ohio State offense is averaging 34.0 points and 398.9 yards per game, while the defense is allowing 7.6 points and 258.2 yards each time out. The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten in scoring offense and third-down efficiency and lead the nation in scoring defense. They also are second in the Big Ten in total offense and third in total defense.
The Ohio State defense has limited its last five opponents to a total of 27 points and has given up just one touchdown in the last 12 quarters. Only three opponents, Northern Illinois, Iowa and Illinois, have scored in double figures and only one (Iowa) has scored two touchdowns. The Buckeyes are outscoring their first 10 opponents by an average of 26.4 points a game.
Led by senior quarterback Troy Smith, Ohio State is passing for 200.6 yards per game. Smith has completed 66.7 percent of his passes and has thrown for 22 of the Buckeyes’ 23 passing touchdowns. Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez have combined for 92 receptions and 13 touchdown catches. Tailback Antonio Pittman has rushed for 952 yards and 11 of the Buckeyes’ 19 rushing touchdowns. Ohio State is averaging 174.3 yards per game on the ground.
On the other side of the ball, James Laurinaitis leads the Buckeyes in tackles with 86, while Vernon Gholston has 12 tackles-for-loss and Quinn Pitcock 7.0 sacks. The OSU defense has forced 22 turnovers, including 19 interceptions and the Buckeye offense has responded by scoring 93 points off those takeaways.
The Ohio State offense has turned the ball over 11 times (three interceptions and eight fumbles), but the defense has stiffened every time and has yet to surrender a point off an opponent turnover.
|No. 1 Ohio State||7||10||0||0||17|
Ohio State recorded its 10th victory of the year at Illinois, but not without a struggle. After jumping out to a 17-0 lead at the half behind rushing touchdowns by Chris Wells and Antonio Pittman and a 50-yard field goal by Aaron Pettrey, the Buckeyes were taken to the wire before finally emerging with a 17-10 win.
“Give Illinois all the credit in the world,” said Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith. “They played us hard and they never quit. This was their last shot at a big upset this year and they gave it everything they had. We have to take this win and learn from it the next two weeks.”
Smith completed 13 of 23 passes for 108 yards, but was intercepted for just the third time this year and was sacked three times. He also rushed for 37 tough yards.
Ted Ginn Jr. hauled in five receptions and Antonio Pittman had three catches for the Buckeyes who had 195 yards of offense at the half, but just 29 after intermission.
The Ohio State defense responded by holding the Illini to 233 yards, including just 99 on the ground. The Illini had been averaging 181 yards per game rushing, second in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes also picked up two more takeaways, giving them 22 on the year, including 19 interceptions. James Laurinaitis had the pick, his fifth of the year. Ohio State now has at least one interception in every game this year. The OSU offense has converted those takeaways into 93 points. Ohio State’s first 10 opponents have no points off Ohio State’s 11 giveaways.
OSU PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Following last week’s win at Illinois, the Ohio State coaching staff selected kicker Aaron Pettrey as the special teams player of the game and linebacker James Laurinaitis the defensive player of the game. Sophomore defensive end Lawrence Wilson was the attack force player of the game. The scout team players were John Larson on offense and Mike Dougherty on defense. Marcus Williams was recognized on scout team special teams.
OHIO STATE IN BIG TEN PLAY
Over the years, Ohio State has either won outright or shared 30 Big Ten titles. The co-championship last year was OSU’s second under Jim Tressel. The Buckeyes also shared the title in 2002, notching a perfect 8-0 record. With a 6-0 league record this year, Ohio State owns an all-time Big Ten record of 434-187-28 in 94 seasons of league competition.
|Ohio State vs.||W||L||T|
THE OHIO STATE-NORTHWESTERN SERIES
The Buckeyes and Wildcats are playing for the 72nd time since their first meeting in 1913. Ohio State has a 56-14-1 edge in the series, including a 24-6-1 advantage in Evanston. The Buckeyes won last year’s game in Columbus, 48-7, but lost the previous year in Evanston, 33-27 in overtime. That loss snapped Ohio State’s 24-game win skein against the Cats.
RECAPPING LAST YEAR
After falling behind 7-0, Ohio State rang up 48 unanswered points for its highest point total of the year. Tailback Antonio Pittman rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown and became the 23rd Ohio State runner to top the 1,000-yard mark in a season. Troy Smith added a pair of rushing touchdowns A. J. Hawk scored after scooping up a blocked punt and returning it 8 yards. In topping the 40-point plateau for the fourth straight week, OSU finished with 422 yards of total offense, including 317 yards on the ground.
OHIO STATE COACH Jim Tressel
Jim Tressel is in his sixth season as head coach at Ohio State. His record with the Buckeyes is 60-13 (.821), including a 36-10 (.782) slate in the Big Ten, and his career ledger now stands at 195-70-2 (.734) in his 21st season as a head coach.
Tressel took over the Buckeyes in 2001, directing them to a 7-5 record that year. In 2002, he led Ohio State to a 14-0 record and the school’s first consensus national championship since 1968.
In 2003, the Buckeyes won their first five games to extend their winning streak to 19 and finished with an 11-2 record. The 2004 squad, which had to replace 14 NFL drafted players, won five of its last six games en route to an 8-4 finish.
A season ago, Tressel guided the Buckeyes to a 10-2 overall record with seven-consecutive victories down the stretch, which included a 34-20 victory over Notre Dame in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in January. The current 17-game winning streak is second only to the 19-consecutive wins under Tressel in 2002 (14-0) and 2003 (5-0 to start season).
Tressel’s teams have appeared in five bowl games and are 4-1 in those contests, including three BCS wins in the Fiesta Bowl during the last four seasons. They also are 4-1 against Michigan in one of the most intense and storied rivalries in all of sports.
Eleven of Tressel’s players have won first-team All-America honors and four have won major awards, including linebacker A.J. Hawk, the recipient of the 2005 Lombardi Award.
Tressel is a master in close games. Since coming to Ohio State, he is 18-9 in games decided by a touchdown or less and 4-1 in overtime games.
He is at his best against the best with a 24-7 record against teams ranked in the Top 25 and a 7-2 mark against teams ranked in the Top 10.
The 53-year-old Tressel is a 1975 graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College.
GINN BIG TEN RECORD HOLDER
Ted Ginn Jr. set the Big Ten record for career touchdowns on punt returns with a 60-yard runback at Michigan State Oct. 14. The Ohio State junior now has six touchdowns on punt returns. The NCAA career record of eight is shared by Wes Welker of Texas Tech (2000-03) and Antonio Perkins of Oklahoma (2001-04). Ginn had four punt returns for scores in 2004 and one last year. His return against MSU is the lone punt return for a TD in the Big Ten this year.
By throwing a 38-yard touchdown pass against Indiana, Ted Ginn Jr. now has thrown for a touchdown, run for a touchdown (two), returned a punt for a touchdown (six), returned a kickoff for a touchdown (one) and caught 13 passes for touchdowns as a Buckeye.
Ohio State co-captains David Patterson and Quinn Pitcock, arguably two of the top defensive tackles in college football this year, were reunited Saturday after a three-game hiatus. Patterson missed the Michigan State and Indiana games because of a knee injury. When he returned against Minnesota, Pitcock was sidelined after suffering a mild concussion against the Hoosiers.
“It was nice to be back in there and playing together,” Patterson said. “We only have three games left as teammates so we want to be in there and help this team any way we can.”
Buckeye coach Jim Tressel certainly appreciates having his two captains in the lineup.
“As far as I am concerned they are the best two defensive tackles in the country,” Tressel noted earlier in the year. “And in addition to being terrific players, they are both excellent leaders. Our front four is the strength of our defense and Quinn and David set the tone.”
Pitcock has 9.0 tackles-for-loss, including a team-high 7.0 sacks, and 31 tackles on the season. In 12 games last year, he finished with 28 tackles and 3.0 tackles-for-loss and one sack. Patterson has 16 tackles on the year, including three tackles-for-loss. He was credited with a career-high seven tackles against Penn State this year.
PITCOCK HAS CAREER DAY
Defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock came within a shoestring of tying and perhaps setting the Ohio State single-game record for sacks against Cincinnati. The 6-foot-3-inch, 295-pound senior bull rushed his way through the Bearcats’ offensive line en route to a career-high three sacks for minus 24 yards. Pitcock narrowly missed two other sacks, UC quarterback Dustin Grutza somehow slipping out of his grasp. The OSU single-game sack record of four is shared by Bobby Carpenter (Michigan State, 2005) and Jason Simmons (Washington State, 1991). Pitcock, who had one sack all of last year, has a team-leading 7.0 this year.
LAURINAITIS ON THE PROWL
Sophomore linebacker James Laurinaitis continues to lead the Buckeyes in tackles with 86 and is tied for the Big Ten lead in interceptions with five. The Butkus Award semi-finalist also has 8.5 tackles-for-loss and 4.0 sacks and has forced two fumbles. Laurinaitis has led the Buckeyes in tackles in seven of their 10 games this year, including a career-best 13 stops at Texas. He recorded 11 at Illinois.
Incidentally, the OSU single-season record for interceptions by a linebacker is six, set in 1986 by Chris Spielman. Laurinaitis had picks in four-consecutive games (Texas, Cincinnati, Penn State and Iowa) earlier this year before having that streak ended against Bowling Green.
Sophomore Brian Robiskie had two receptions at Illinois and now has caught a pass in every game this year … Tailback Antonio Pittman had a career-high three receptions against the Illini … Punter A.J. Trapasso unloaded a 55-yard punt late in the game at Illinois, pinning the Illini down on their own 2-yard line with just four seconds to play, helping to ensure Ohio State’s 17-10 victory. Earlier in the fourth period, with Ohio State on its own 14, Trapasso boomed a season-long 60-yard punt that moved Illinois back to its 26 … James Laurinaitis picked off his fifth interception of the year at Illinois, giving the Buckyes 19 on the year and at least one in all 10 games to date … Kicker Aaron Pettrey easily made a 50-yard field goal attempt at Illinois that gave the Buckeyes a 17-0 lead at the half. Pettrey has hit on eight of his last nine attempts, including a career best 51-yard effort in the win over Indiana … Sophomore defensive end Lawrence Wilson had his best game of the year at Illinois with five tackles, including 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Another sophomore, defensive end Vernon Gholston, had six tackles at Illinois. Gholston leads the Buckeyes in tackles-for-loss with 12.0 and is second in sacks with 5.5 … Tim Schafer started Saturday’s game at left tackle in place of Alex Boone. It was the fourth start of the year for the Buckeyes’ utility lineman, who started the first three games of the season at left guard.
BUCKEYE SACK PACK
Ohio State ranks third in the Big Ten in sacks with 30. The Buckeyes are led by defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock with 7.0, followed by Vernon Gholston with 5.5. James Laurinaitis has 4.0 and defensive end Jay Richardson 3.0
THE GLENVILLE CONNECTION
Quarterback Troy Smith and flanker Ted Ginn Jr., both of whom prepped at Glenville High School, continue to form one of college football’s most dangerous duos. When the two hooked up on a 57-yard scoring strike against Bowling Green on Oct. 7, it marked their eighth play of more than 50 yards.
OHIO STATE AT HOME
The Buckeyes boast an all-time record of 372-104-20 (.770) in Ohio Stadium. Ohio State has won 11 straight, and 15 of the last 16, games played in the Horseshoe. Ohio State’s all-time record in Columbus is 515-151-35 in 701 games.
OSU IMPROVES RECORD AS NO. 1
Ohio State is 61-8-1 when ranked as the nation’s No. 1 team. Overall, the Buckeyes are 293-68-9 when carrying a Top 10 ranking and 400-123-14 as a Top 25 team. Ohio State has opened the season No. 1 seven times, second only to Oklahoma (nine). The Buckeyes own the record for most appearances (53) in the first 57 years of the Associated Press Poll.
BUCKEYES PERFECT IN NO. 1 VS. NO. 2 SHOWDOWNS
The Sept. 9 showdown in Austin between top-ranked Ohio State and second-ranked Texas was the earliest regular-season match-up in college football annals between a No. 1 and a No. 2 team. Ohio State has been involved in two such games previously, the first in the 1969 Rose Bowl and the second in the 2002 national championship game at the 2003 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. OSU won both, downing the University of Southern California, 27-16, in the former and Miami of Florida, 31-24 in two overtimes, in the latter. On both occasions, the Buckeyes were the No. 2 ranked team.
BUCKEYES RECORD IMPRESSIVE WINS
During their 17-game winning streak, Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes have recorded wins over five of college football’s most successful programs – Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Penn State and Iowa. Michigan tops the all-time victories list with 859 wins (859-280-36), Notre Dame is second at 819-267-42 and Texas ranks third at 809-311-33. The Buckeyes are fifth all-time with 785 wins, followed by No. 6 Alabama (780 wins) and No. 7 Penn State (776-341-42). Iowa ranks No. 41 on the all-time wins list (552-494-39).
BUCKEYES GET HIGH GRADES
A league-best 18 Ohio State football players were named to the Big Ten’s All-Academic team last fall, marking the fourth year in a row the Buckeyes have led the conference in that area. Additionally, a record 46 Ohio State football players qualified for last spring’s annual OSU Scholar-Athlete Dinner, which requires a grade-point average of 3.00 or better for the past academic year. As a team, the Buckeyes have an overall GPA of 2.83. A total of 52 football student-athletes earned a 3.00 or better during Ohio State’s spring quarter and 46 had a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 after spring grades were calculated.
Quarterback Troy Smith (communication), center Doug Datish (history), strong safety Brandon Mitchell (political science) and fullback Stan White Jr. (finance) all are working toward graduate degrees while playing football for the Buckeyes this season. Two most recent student-athletes to earn their degrees are All-America linebacker A.J. Hawk and Richard Schafrath, who lettered from 1956-58. Both were awarded degrees following the 2006 summer quarter. Other 2005-06 graduates include Bobby Carpenter, Angelo Chattams, R.J. Coleman, John Conroy, Ryan Hamby, Rob Harley, Mike Roberts, Anthony Schlegel, Brandon Schnittker, Rob Sims, Steve Winner and Ashton Youboty.
THE BUCKEYES ALL-TIME
Ohio State enters this week’s game with an all-time record of 785-300-53 in 116 seasons of competition. That includes a Big Ten record of 434-187-28 since 1913, an Ohio Stadium slate of 372-104-20 since 1922 and a bowl mark of 18-19.
OSU COACHES IN THE PRESS BOX
Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman and quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels will be in the press box for the Buckeyes during the game as will cornerbacks coach Tim Beckman and co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell.
Seniors Troy Smith, Doug Datish, Quinn Pitcock and David Patterson were voted by their teammates as captains of the 2006 Ohio State football team. Smith (QB) and Datish (C) will lead from the offensive side while Pitcock and Patterson represent the defense from the defensive tackle spot. The four entered the season with 128 games of combined experience as Buckeyes.
OHIO STATE 35, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 12
|No. 1 Ohio State||21||7||0||7||35|
No. 1/1 Ohio State scored on its first four possessions of the game while Troy Smith threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns and Ted Ginn Jr. hauled in four catches for 123 yards and two scores in leading the Buckeyes to a 35-12 victory against Northern Illinois in front of 103,896 fans Sept. 2 at Ohio Stadium.
Smith completed 18-of-25 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns without an interception or a sack. Ginn reeled in a 58-yard TD pass in the first quarter and a 56-yard reception in the fourth quarter. He also had 69 return yards with 44 yards on two punt returns and two kick returns for 25 yards, Antonio Pittman carried the ball 19 times for 111 yards and one touchdown, while Anthony Gonzalez caught four passes for 53 yards and one TD. True freshman Chris Wells, in his Buckeye debut, rushed for 50 yards on 10 carries.
The Buckeyes outgained the Huskies in total yardage, 488-343, and amassed 173 yards rushing on 36 carries while they posted 315 yards on 20-of-27 passing. The Huskies totaled 153 yards rushing and 192 yards passing. A lot of that yardage came from Garrett Wolfe, the nation’s leading returning rusher. He totaled 171 yards on the ground and had five catches for 114 yards.
The Buckeyes turned the ball over twice, both inside the NIU 10-yard line, and missed two field goals.
Brandon Mitchell finished the game with 10 tackles, including one tackle for loss, to lead Ohio State. Marcus Freeman added nine tackles. The defense saw five first-time starters, including Vernon Gholston, Antonio Smith, Marcus Freeman, Nick Patterson and John Kerr. Two offensive players – Hartline and Brian Robiskie – made their first starts as Buckeyes.
The win was the 28th straight win for the Buckeyes’ in their home opener.
OHIO STATE 24, TEXAS 7
|No. 1 Ohio State||7||7||3||7||24|
|No. 2 Texas||0||7||0||0||7|
Led by Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez and Antonio Pittman on offense and bolstered by a young but quickly coming-of-age defense, top-ranked Ohio State solidified its place in the polls with its 17-point victory over the defending national champion Longhorns.
Smith enhanced his early season Heisman Trophy status by completing 17 of 26 passes for 269 yards and a pair of touchdowns against a veteran Texas defense, giving him five touchdown passes and 566 passing yards in his first two games.
Ginn, the Buckeyes’ other Heisman hopeful, was on the receiving end of five passes for 97 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown grab just before halftime that put Ohio State in front 14-7 going into the locker room. Ginn’s grab capped off a business-like five-play, 66-yard drive that began with 1:55 remaining in the second quarter. The speedy flanker set the tone early with a 46-yard catch-and-run on the Buckeyes’ second play from scrimmage.
The Buckeyes also received a career-best performance from Gonzalez, who hauled in eight catches for 142 yards. The junior split end and honor student got Ohio State on the board with 1:04 to play in the first quarter by latching on to a 14-yard pass from Smith that put the icing on a 50-yard drive.
Pittman led the Buckeyes in rushing for the second consecutive week, finishing with 74 yards on 16 carries, an average of 4.6 yards per attempt. His 2-yard touchdown run with 6:31 to play capped off the scoring and put the game out of reach. The Buckeyes, who took over the ball at their own 28-yard line after a missed Texas field goal, marched 72 yards in 10 plays for the score.
The Buckeye defense limited the Texas offense to 326 total yards and just the one touchdown and set up two OSU scores with timely takeaways.
Sophomore linebacker James Laurinaitis was involved in both turnovers. First, he forced a first-quarter fumble at the OSU 1-yard line that cornerback Donald Washington scooped up and returned 49 yards to set up the Smith-to-Ginn touchdown pass. Then, on the first play of the third quarter, he intercepted a Colt McCoy pass and ran it back 25 yards to the Texas 31-yard line. Kicker Aaron Pettrey gave the Buckeyes a 10-point cushion with a 31-yard field goal.
With the aggressive defensive front keeping the pressure on throughout the evening, Laurinaitis finished with a game-best and career-high 13 tackles to go along with two forced fumbles, his first career interception and a pass broken up. Safety Brandon Mitchell was credited with nine stops, while Washington, who was making his first start at corner, had five. Cover corner Malcolm Jenkins and nickel back Antonio Smith each had five stops as Ohio State kept Texas under 40 points for the first time in 13 games.
Sophomore punter A. J. Trapasso kept the Longhorns corralled in their own territory by averaging 50.8 yards per punt on six kicks – the third best single-game performance in Ohio State history. That average includes a 39-yard punt at the end of the game that rolled out-of-bounds on the Texas 6-yard line. The Longhorns’ average field position after a Trapasso thumper was their own 21-yard line.
The victory squared the series at 1-1 and gave Ohio State an all-time record of 4-0 in the Lone Star state.
OHIO STATE 37, CINCINNATI 7
|No. 1 Ohio State||3||10||7||17||37|
Ohio State ran its record to 3-0 with a 37-7 victory over visiting Cincinnati. The win was the Buckeyes’ 10th in a row.
After falling behind 7-3 at the end of the first quarter (the first time all year that OSU had trailed), the Buckeyes scored 34 unanswered points en route to their seventh-consecutive win in Ohio Stadium.
Quarterback Troy Smith again led the Buckeyes to victory, completing 21 of 30 passes for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns. OSU rolled up 444 yards in total offense and scoring drives of 85, 80 and 72 yards – three of their longest drives of the year.
Smith connected with Ted Ginn Jr. on a pair of scoring strikes in the second and third quarters to give Ohio State a comfortable 20-7 lead. But it was Antonio Pittman who put the game out of reach with a 48-yard scoring jaunt with just over nine minutes to go in the fourth period. Pittman finished his afternoon with 155 yards on 16 carries, an impressive 9.7 yards per attempt. Backup tailback Maurice Wells scored the other OSU touchdown on a nine-yard run. Aaron Pettrey added field goals of 47 and 43 yards and Ryan Pretorius hit from 52-yards away to complete the scoring.
Gonzalez and Ginn each had five receptions to pace the receiving corps as four different quarterbacks hooked up with 11 different receivers.
The Ohio State defense limited the Bearcats to 212 yards of total offense, including a scant 64 in the second half. Senior tackle Quinn Pitcock had a career-high three sacks and narrowly missed two more. He finished the day with five tackles. With Pitcock leading the way, the Buckeyes recorded eight sacks, 10 tackles for loss and had three interceptions.
Sophomore linebacker James Laurinaitis led the Buckeyes with nine tackles, including a sack, and picked off his second interception of the year.
OHIO STATE 28, PENN STATE 6
|No. 24 Penn State||0||3||0||3||6|
|No. 1 Ohio State||0||0||7||21||28|
Ohio State opened its Big Ten season with a 28-6 win over visiting Penn State. In winning their third straight conference home opener, the Buckeyes needed a pair of fourth-quarter interception returns for touchdowns to salt the game away.
Holding on to a less-than-comfortable 14-6 lead, the Buckeyes got a lift from cornerback Malcolm Jenkins whose 61-yard return gave them a 21-6 lead with 2:31 to play. Moments later cornerback Antonio Smith picked off his first career interception and returned it 55 yards to the north end zone and the game was officially over.
The Buckeyes also had an interception earlier in the game by linebacker James Laurinaitis, giving them eight on the year to that point, three more than all of last year. The OSU defense limited Penn State to 248 yards and allowed the Nittany Lions to convert just three of 14 third-down opportunities.
Ohio State’s other two touchdowns came on a 12-yard run by Antonio Pittman, who finished the game with 110 yards, and a 37-yard pass from Troy Smith to Brian Robiskie. The former gave the Buckeyes their first lead at 7-3 after the Nittany Lions had taken a 3-0 lead into the locker room at intermission. On the latter, Smith rolled to his right, reversed his field and somehow threw a perfect strike to Robiskie, giving the Buckeyes a 14-3 lead.
The two teams combined for just 501 yards in total offense on a rainy, windy afternoon in Ohio Stadium.
OHIO STATE 38, IOWA 17
|No. 1 Ohio State||7||14||7||10||38|
|No. 13 Iowa||3||7||0||7||17|
Led by senior quarterback Troy Smith’s career-high four touchdown passes and a spirited defense that came up with four takeaways, top-ranked Ohio State downed No. 13 Iowa, 38-17, in Iowa City, knocking the Hawkeyes from the unbeaten ranks in front of a highly-partisan Kinnick Stadium crowd of 70,585.
With the win, Ohio State improved to 5-0 on the year and 2-0 in Big Ten play. It was the Buckeyes third win of the year over a Top 25 team (No. 2 Texas and No. 24 Penn State were the other two) and their second win in prime time on the road and on national TV.
Smith, who ran his record as a starter to 18-2, put the Buckeyes ahead to stay with a 12-yard pass to split end Anthony Gonzalez with 11:34 to play in the first quarter.
The senior signal caller added a 6-yard strike to Roy Hall in the second quarter, teamed up again with Gonzalez from 30 yards out in the third period and capped off the scoring with a 12-yard toss to Brian Robiskie with 4:23 to play in the fourth. In addition to completing 16 of 25 passes for 186 yards and the four TD tosses, Smith also rushed for 20 yards in another near flawless performance at the OSU helm.
Gonzalez was on the receiving end of five of those passes, all going for first downs. On his 30-yard touchdown grab, Gonzalez had the first down, but then reversed his field and circled around right end and somehow tight roped down the sideline and into the end zone on one of the more spectacular plays of the season. Ted Ginn Jr. led all receivers with seven receptions for 69 yards.
Tailback Antonio Pittman rushed 25 times for 117 yards and a touchdown, while freshman Chris “Beanie” Wells added 78 yards for the Buckeyes who rolled up a season-high 214 yards on the ground.
The OSU defense, meanwhile, recorded three interceptions and a fumble recovery to keep the Iowa offense in check.
Safety Brandon Mitchell played a role in two of those takeaways, snagging a second quarter interception that led to Pittman’s touchdown and recovering a fourth-quarter fumble that halted an Iowa drive.
Linebackers Marcus Freeman and James Laurinaitis also had interceptions, both of those coming in the fourth quarter as Iowa turned the ball over on its final three possessions of the night.
The OSU defense also recorded five tackles-for-loss, including sacks by Freeman and Laurinaitis, and limited Iowa to 87 yards on the ground.
OHIO STATE 35, BOWLING GREEN 7
|No. 1 Ohio State||14||7||0||14||35|
Troy Smith threw for three touchdowns, Antonio Pittman ran for two and Ted Ginn Jr. caught a career-high 10 passes as Ohio State downed visiting Bowling Green, 35-7, Oct. 7 in Ohio Stadium.
The Ohio State defense recorded its 13th takeaway of the year and held its opponent to seven points or less for the fourth time in six outings.
In addition to 13-consecutive wins, Jim Tressel’s team also has won nine straight in Ohio Stadium.
Smith completed 17 of 20 passes for 191 yards, including touchdown strikes to Rory Nicol, Ted Ginn Jr. and Ray Small. It was Nicol’s first touchdown catch of the year and Small’s first as a collegian. Ginn’s score covered 57 yards and was the longest play of the day.
Pittman carried the ball just 13 times, but scored on a pair of 8-yard runs to equal his entire touchdown output of a year ago (seven).
Defensive tackle Vernon Gholston picked off his first career interception and had two tackles-for-loss and a sack. He is the team leader in tackles-for-loss with nine. His interception and 8-yard return gives the Buckeyes an interception in every game this year.
Malcolm Jenkins and James Laurinaitis paced the Buckeyes in tackles with nine. Jenkins had six solos to lead both teams. Laurinaitis now has a team-high 50 tackles on the year.
OHIO STATE 38, MICHIGAN STATE 7
|No. 1 Ohio State||7||17||7||7||38|
The Buckeyes ran their road record to 3-0 with their methodical 38-7 dismantling of Michigan State. Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes have won their last six road games, five of which have been Big Ten contests. In their three road games this year, the Buckeyes have outscored Texas, Iowa and Michigan State by a combined total of 100 to 31 and have never trailed.
At Michigan State, the Buckeyes marched 80 yards in 12 plays on their second possession of the game for a quick 7-0 lead and never looked back. Tailback Antonio Pittman put Ohio State ahead to stay with a 2-yard run, giving him at least one rushing touchdown in 12 consecutive games. Troy Smith’s 37-yard completion to Ted Ginn Jr. set up the score.
The Buckeyes added 17 points in the second quarter on a 32-yard field goal by Aaron Pettrey, a 60-yard punt return by Ginn and a 12-yard Smith-to-Anthony Gonzalez pass. The latter was set up by a Marcus Freeman interception that gave Ohio State the ball on the MSU 29 with 2:27 to play in the first half.
Smith also connected with Brian Robiskie from seven yards out in the third quarter. Freshman Chris “Beanie” Wells wrapped up the scoring on a five-yard run at the start of the fourth quarter giving the Buckeyes a commanding 38-0 lead.
The Buckeyes rolled up 421 yards in total offense against the Spartans. Michigan State, conversely, managed just 198 yards against the Buckeyes’ defense, including just 63 yards on the ground.
Led by senior tackle Quinn Pitcock, the Buckeyes recorded 10 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks against the Spartans. Pitcock had two sacks, while defensive end Jay Richardson and linebacker James Laurinaitis each had two tackles-for-loss. Laurinaitis led the Buckeyes in tackles with nine, the sixth time this year that he has paced the team.
Freeman’s interception was the Buckeyes’ 13th of the year, giving Ohio State at least one interception in every game this year.
OHIO STATE 44, INDIANA 3
|No. 1 Ohio State||7||21||10||6||44|
Ohio State staked Indiana to an early 3-0 lead then rolled up 44 unanswered points on the way to their 14th-consecutive victory over the Hoosiers. The 44 points were the most scored by the Buckeyes this season and the most since a 48-point effort against Northwestern in Game 10 last year. The three points by the Hoosiers were the fewest this year by an opponent and marked the sixth time this season the defense has held an opponent to seven points or less.
Led by quarterback Troy Smith and running back Antonio Pittman, the Buckeyes rolled up a season-high 540 yards in total offense – 270 rushing and the same number passing against the IU defense.
Smith completed 15 of 23 passes, including 15 of his last 19, for 220 yards and four touchdown passes. Pittman ran for 105 yards on 16 carries and received ample support from backups Chris Wells and Maurice Wells, each of whom rushed for 62 yards. Chris Wells scored the Buckeyes’ lone rushing touchdown of the day on a 12-yard run.
Ted Ginn Jr. led the OSU receiving corps with five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Ginn also threw a 38-yard touchdown pass, the first completion of his career. Tight end Rory Nicol had his first two-touchdown day, catching a 23-yard score from Smith and a 38-yard bullet from Ginn. Freshman tight end Jake Ballard also got in on the act with a 1-yard TD reception from Smith.
“When a senior quarterback throws it to a freshman you better catch it,” Ballard who made a diving grab of Smith’s perfectly thrown toss, said.
Aaron Pettrey added a career-long 51-yard field goal to the OSU cause.
The Ohio State defense recorded 10 tackles-for-loss, including four sacks, and held Indiana to just 7 yards rushing. Senior cornerback Antonio Smith had a career-high 12 tackles, including four tackles-for-loss and a sack. Senior defensive end Jay Richardson had a pair of sacks and cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and safety Andre Amos each had interceptions, giving the Buckeyes at least one interception in every game this year.
OHIO STATE 44, MINNESOTA 0
|No. 1 Ohio State||10||7||13||14||44|
Ohio State recorded its first shutout of the year and first since the 2003 season with a 44-0 win over Minnesota Oct. 28. The Buckeye defense, which extended its streak of not allowing a touchdown to eight consecutive quarters, limited the Gophers to 182 total yards, including just 47 yards rushing. The OSU offense equaled its season high in points and rolled up 484 yards. The Buckeyes converted 7-of-10 first-down opportunities and were 5-of-6 in the red zone, all touchdowns.
Troy Smith completed 14 of 21 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown and also ran for his first score of the season on a 21-yard run. Antonio Pittman rushed for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns and freshman Beanie Wells added 90 yards on the ground.
Linebacker James Laurinaitis once again paced the team in tackles with 11. The Buckeye played the game without defensive tackle and co-captain Quinn Pitcock who suffered a concussion the week before against Indiana.
ABOUT THE WILDCATS
Northwestern snapped a six-game losing streak with a 21-7 road win at Iowa last Saturday in Iowa City, Iowa. The Wildcats opened the season with an emotional 21-3 victory at Miami (Ohio), before losing to New Hampshire. Northwestern responded with a 14-6 vs. Eastern Michigan before the losing streak that included setbacks at Nevada, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan and home losses to Purdue and Michigan State.
The Wildcats are averaging 16.1 points and 307.2 yards per game. The balanced offense is averaging 154.2 yards rushing and 153.0 yards passing. C.J. Bacher, who quarterbacked the win at Iowa, has played in four games and has completed 56-of-103 passes for 691 yards and four touchdowns. He is averaging 172.8 yards per game, but has thrown six interceptions. Shaun Herbert and Ross Lane have caught four of the six touchdown passes for the Wildcats. Herbert has 39 receptions for 360 yard, while Tyrell Sutton has 28 grabs for 180 yards and a score. Lane has 24 catches for 336 yards. Sutton is averaging 83.3 yards rushing and has 833 yards on 143 carries. He is averaging 5.8 yards per carry and has scored four touchdowns. Terrell Jordan also has run for four TDs giving the duo more than half of the team’s 14 rushing scores. Mike Kafka has 45 carries for 275 yards and a pair of TDs.
Defensively, Northwestern is allowing opponents to score 24.4 points and 364.6 yards per game. Teams are averaging 219.1 yards passing and 145.5 yards on the ground. The Wildcats have forced 17 turnovers, including 10 interceptions. The defense has 19 sacks for 100 yards. Adam Kadela has 66 tackles and two fumble recoveries. Nick Roach and Brendan Smith each have 62 tackles, while Deante Battle has 61 stops. Corey Wootton leads the team with 8.5 tackles-for-loss and four sacks. Smith has three interceptions.
Kicker Joel Howells has made 5-of-9 field goals, including a long of 43. Slade Larscheid handles punting duties and is averaging 38.0 yards on 57 punts.
NORTHWESTERN’S LAST GAME
Wildcat quarterback C.J. Bacher threw for 218 yards and a touchdown, Tyrell Sutton added 168 yards rushing and a score and Northwestern stunned Iowa, 21-7, last Saturday to pick up its first Big Ten win and end a six-game losing streak. Terrell Jordan added a 34-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter for Northwestern. The Wildcats, which led 14-0 at the half, wore down the Hawkeyes with a balanced attack, gaining 225 yards on the ground in totaling 443 yards of offense.
COACH PAT FITZGERALD
Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern, 1996) is in his fist season as the head coach at his alma mater, succeeding Randy Walker, who died suddenly on June 29 at the age of 52. A two-time national defensive player of the year for Northwestern and an assistant football coach since 2001, Fitzgerald was named Northwestern’s 29th head coach July 7, 2006. Fitzgerald was one of the leaders on Northwestern’s two Big Ten championship teams in 1995 and 1996. The ’95 squad won an outright Big Ten title (8-0) and went to the Rose Bowl, while the ’96 team captured a share of the title and played in the Citrus Bowl. In 2001, after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Idaho, Walker hired Fitzgerald to coach the Wildcats’ defensive secondary. In 2002, he moved to linebackers coach, and then in 2004, added recruiting coordinator to his title.
The Buckeyes return home to face Michigan in the traditional regular-season finale between the two Big Ten schools. ABC will televise the game with kickoff scheduled for 3:36 p.m., EST, in sold-out Ohio Stadium (102,329). The 17 seniors on this year’s Ohio State team will be recognized prior to the start of the game. ESPN’s College GameDay will return to Columbus for the second time this year and will be covering the Buckeyes for the fourth time in 2006.
OHIO STATE MEDIA AVAILABILITY NEXT WEEK
Next week in advance of the Ohio State vs. Michigan game, all media interviews will be conducted on Monday. Coach Jim Tressel will hold his weekly press luncheon at noon at the Jack Nicklaus Museum. Player interviews will begin at 1:15 p.m. at the Woody Hayes Athletics Center and conclude at 2:15 p.m. The weekly teleconference with Troy Smith and Ted Ginn Jr. also will be held Monday beginning at 2:15 p.m. There will be no other media opportunities next week.