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July 25, 2006

What showdown?

(Note: everything in this article is based off simulating events on NCAA Football 2007. The game does not assign players, so I came up with names myself.)

Columbus, Ohio - An anticipated Big Ten showdown quickly turned into a rout as Ohio State used a balanced offensive attack to overwhelm Penn State, 37-7.

The Buckeyes' offense was hitting on all cylinders against the Nittany Lions (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) in front of a sellout crowd in Columbus. As has been the case for much of the season, OSU (4-0, 1-0) was led by the play of senior quarterback Troy Smith, who accounted for more than 300 all-purpose yards.

Smith passed for 202 yards and three touchdowns while also accumulating 93 yards on 13 carries to lead OSU in both categories against a Nittany Lion defense that seemed to be searching for answers all day long.

Penn State did keep the Buckeyes off the board until late in the first quarter when OSU capitalized on one of six Nittany Lion turnovers. Antonio Pittman barreled into the end zone from 11 yards out on the second play of a drive that began inside the red zone, giving OSU a 7-0 lead with 2:43 left in the first.

After forcing a PSU three-and-out on the ensuing possession, the Buckeyes marched down the field for a drive that lasted 4:07 and culminated with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Anthony Gonzalez. Penn State pulled to within a touchdown late in the half on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Morelli to sophomore wideout Jordan Norwood with 2:14 left in the half.

That's when things got interesting. The Buckeyes marched down the field but were halted at the PSU 30. Sophomore kicker Ryan Pretorius nailed his first field goal of the season - a 47 yarder - to put OSU up 17-7 with 14 seconds remaining at the half.

But the Nittany Lions fumbled on the ensuing return, giving OSU the ball at the PSU 29 with four seconds left in the half. Pretorius trotted back onto the field and booted a 46-yard field goal as time expired, putting OSU up 20-7 at the half.

Pretorius would also nail a 51-yarder midway through the third quarter and Smith added touchdown passes to tight end Marcel Frost and another to Gonzalez to end the scoring.

Of the six turnovers forced by the Buckeyes, half came via the air. Morelli was limited to 19-of-34 passing for 114 yards and one touchdown against the three interceptions. His 19 completions went to six wideouts, with sophomore Deon Butler nabbing nine for 76 yards.

Tailback Tony Hunt became the latest player to enter Ohio Stadium as a Heisman candidate and leave with his hopes in shambles. After rushing for an average of 150.3 yards per game in the first three weeks of the season, the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week was held to just 12 yards on three carries after suffering a minor injury during the course of the game.

In his place, senior tailback Austin Scott rushed 15 times for 106 yards to lead all rushers.

The real story was the OSU offense, however. Gonzalez finished with five catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns while Ted Ginn, Jr. finished with four catches for 64 yards. Chris Wells added a catch for 15 yards while Brian Hartline hauled in three passes for 28 yards.

On the ground, Pittman added 14 carries for 72 yards and saw a reduced role as the game got out of hand. Wells added three carries for 21 yards.

Sophomore defensive back Jamario O'Neal became the first Buckeye to earn Big Ten Player of the Week honors. O'Neal contributed to PSU's misery by picking off two passes, recording one tackle and recovering a fumble.

The defensive line was again led by Quinn Pitcock, who led the Buckeyes with seven tackles - two for loss - and one sack. Senior linebacker Mike D'Andrea posted the same numbers as Pitcock while Marcus Freeman added six tackles. Sophomore defensive back Malcolm Jenkins had the other OSU interception.

The Buckeyes out-gained the Nittany Lions in total offense, 395 yards to 242, but the gap was narrowed a bit in total yardage. OSU gained a total of 489 yards, but the Nittany Lions had 462 on the strength of 166 yards gained on kick returns.

The reason? OSU returned just two kicks all game.

THE RANKINGS
The Buckeyes remained at the top of the coaches' poll and were at the top of the first media poll released Sunday night. The top 10 schools are as follows(first-place votes are in parentheses):
Coaches' Poll
1. Ohio State (35)
2. LSU (25)
3. USC (1)
4. Oklahoma (3)
5. Texas
6. West Virginia (1)
7. Miami
8. Michigan
9. Auburn
10. Iowa
Penn State fell to No. 13 following its loss to OSU, while Notre Dame is No. 16..

Media Poll
1. Ohio State (43)
2. USC (21)
3. LSU (1)
4. West Virginia
5. Oklahoma
6. Texas
7. Michigan
8. Miami
9. Florida
10. Penn State

Four teams emerged from the first week of Big Ten conference play undefeated with a full slate of conference games starting next week. Conference records are first, followed by overall records.

Standings:
1. (tie) Iowa 1-0, 4-0
Minnesota
Ohio State
Michigan
5. Northwestern 0-0, 3-1
6. (tie) Michigan State 0-0, 2-2
Indiana
8. (tie) Penn State 0-1, 3-1
Illinois
Wisconsin
11. Purdue 0-1, 0-3

News & Notes
-Despite another strong showing against Penn State, OSU's Troy Smith found himself off the list of Heisman candidates after week four. The updated list includes Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, Oklahoma tailback Adrian Peterson, Arizona State wideout Rudy Burgess, Texas Tech wideout Robert Johnson and Michigan wideout Mario Manningham.

-The Big Ten announced its players of the week: Minnesota tailback Amir Pinnix earned offensive honors while carrying the ball 29 times for 178 yards and three touchdowns while OSU's O'Neal earned the defensive honors.

-The Buckeyes will be without the services of Antonio Smith for the next eight weeks. The senior cornerback suffered a fractured foot against the Nittany Lions.

RECRUITING
-The Buckeyes have not made the latest cuts for defensive end Joe Buttles and guard Joel Keyes, who both trimmed their lists to five schools that did not include Ohio State.

-Two other prospects came away impressed with OSU's big win over Penn State. Cornerback Derrick Kane said he was "treated really well" on his unofficial visit to Columbus, while linebacker Johnnie Lester said he had a "great time" on his. Kane has OSU eighth on his list with Notre Dame at the top while Lester has moved OSU up to fourth on his list with West Virginia at No. 1.

-Everyone's favorite name - Slade Bobo kept Ohio State at the top of his list following an unofficial visit to Michigan that "didn't go so well," in his words. The Buckeyes did slip for wideout Mark McMillan, who now has Notre Dame in first and OSU second after having a "great time" on his unofficial visit to South Bend.

-The Buckeyes No. 1 ranking is apparently making them more enticing to tackle Reggie Tidwell, who told BuckeyeSports.com that "everyone is telling me to come here (to OSU) because (they're) No. 1."

-When defensive tackle Patrick Anderson trimmed his list to five, OSU made the cut on the strength of its victory over Penn State. The win "got my attention," Anderson said.

NEXT UP:
It does not get any easier for the top-ranked Buckeyes, who will travel to Iowa City to take on the undefeated Hawkeyes in a game with Big Ten title implications.

Iowa defeated Illinois 31-10 last week and was led by senior quarterback Drew Tate, who is likely still smarting after getting crushed by the Buckeyes 30-7 last season. Tate is 85 for 137 on the season for 1,079 yards and 10 touchdowns. His primary target has been senior wideout Calvin Davis, who has 27 catches for 284 yards and three touchdowns. Junior tailback Albert Young leads Iowa with 55 carries for 307 yards and four touchdowns.

Defensively, the Hawkeyes are led by senior linebacker Ed Miles, who has 17 tackles and two sacks. Junior cornerback Charles Godfrey leads the team with two interceptions.

Iowa will be without junior linebacker Mike Humpal, who suffered a season-ending injury against the Fighting Illini last week.

Check out the previous results:
  • Week 1 - vs. Northern Illinois
  • Week 2 - at Texas
  • Week 3 - vs. Cincinnati


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