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Game Thread Game Four: #1 Ohio State 28, #24 Penn State 6 (9/23/06)


Capo Regime
Staff member

Smith's risk was worth the reward
JASON LLOYD, Morning Journal Writer


COLUMBUS -- Troy Smith may have broken one of Jim Tressel's longstanding rules when he reversed field and ran backward 15 yards on Saturday, but he maintained another of Tressel's edicts: Make a big play.

Above all else, Tressel asks three things of his starting quarterback: make good decisions, don't turn the ball over and make big plays. Smith violated the second law with his two interceptions against Penn State, but his 37-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robiskie made up for all of it.

''I don't like Troy to reverse field that deep because if it's a fast guy like one of our defensive guys, we're going to have a problem,'' Tressel said. ''But like on checking off plays, if he wants to change the play, that's fine -- if it works.''

His touchdown pass to Robiskie worked because both players made it work. Robiskie's route was supposed to be short, but when he saw Smith scrambling, he did what is expected of receivers -- he kept running.

On broken plays like that, Smith said the short receivers are supposed to release downfield and the deep guys are supposed to come back to the line of scrimmage. As it worked out, Robiskie wound up as the only receiver in deep coverage and he had a cornerback in front of him and a safety behind him. But he had enough room and Smith put the pass in the right spot to make a big play.

''The things he can do, he can always keep a play going,'' Robiskie said of Smith. ''I was just trying to do what I was taught and get downfield.''

Players like Smith and Ted Ginn are usually given more range to freelance than the rest. When Ginn would lose 7 or 8 yards on a punt return last year, Tressel always defended him by saying ''that's the risk you take to hit home runs.''

Smith and Ginn are Ohio State's home run hitters. Sometimes that means striking out. But Smith took what looked to be a strikeout and turned it into a grand slam.

''He just made a play,'' right tackle Kirk Barton said. ''I don't know if it's a freelance thing as much as it's him being a great player and taking advantage of things breaking down to make a great play.''

It salvaged an afternoon that otherwise hurt Smith's Heisman campaign. The two interceptions were his first of the season and his 115 passing yards were a season-low. Perhaps more disturbing was the fact it was the second straight week Ohio State's high-octane offense started slowly.

Penn State's defense shut out the Buckeyes in the first half, not allowing them to find a groove until Antonio Pittman started running well in the third quarter.

''Penn State has a very good defense,'' Barton said. ''Their game against Notre Dame (a 41-17 loss) was an aberration. That wasn't the Penn State that came out (Saturday) ... They're a very physical and tough group.''

The last two opponents -- Cincinnati and Penn State -- were led by young quarterbacks struggling to direct their own offense, so the damage was minimal in both instances. Ohio State's defense held Cincinnati to 7 points in the first half and Penn State to just a field goal, allowing the offense plenty of time to right itself in the second half.

In both instances, it was needed. Ohio State managed 13 points and kept the Bearcats in the first half two weeks ago. Saturday against Penn State, the Buckeyes were shut out in the first half and trailing at halftime, 3-0.

Now as Ohio State prepares for another night game on the road at Iowa, led by a seasoned quarterback in Drew Tate, the onus to become more efficient early will grow.

''There's concern in that we weren't playing well, it's not like we're necessarily concerned about momentum,'' receiver Anthony Gonzalez said. ''Anytime you get to come out here and show the things you've been working on all year and all week, you really take pride in that and you want it to go perfectly. But (Saturday) and last week, in the first half, it just wasn't there for some reason. We have to fix that.''
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Staff member
osugrad21;617210; said:
Making strides: Aside from a glaring false start in the fourth quarter, the offensive line has progressed quicker than expected. It opened holes for Hunt to rush for 135 yards and continued to give Morelli pretty good time to throw...


Was it just me or was our pass rush, typically with just the 4 down linemen, just fine against PSU? Sure, there were times when Morelli had time; but even as a spoiled Buckeye fan I was satisfied with the push that we got on him most of the time.

EDIT: To those who didn't read the original post, I'm taking issue with the sports writer grad quoted. He hasn't weighed in on the issue afaik.
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Capo Regime
Staff member
DaddyBigBucks;617217; said:

Was it just me or was our pass rush, typically with just the 4 down linemen, just fine against PSU? Sure, there were times when Morelli had time; but even as a spoiled Buckeye fan I was satisfied with the push that we got on him most of the time.

EDIT: To those who didn't read the original post, I'm taking issue with the sports writer grad quoted. He hasn't weighed in on the issue afaik.

Agree completely...when we didn't get pressure we were dropping 7-8 and forcing Morelli to make decisions. He ended up cracking under that decision-making process.
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Best Buckeye

Pretending I'm a pleasant person is exhausting.
Staff member
SO who all has the idea in their mind like me that this years team could turn out to be a second half team. And that it could be contributable to the depth of the team?
We shall see what happens down the road.
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Best Buckeye

Pretending I'm a pleasant person is exhausting.
Staff member
Here is a pic of PSU's biggest ground gainer :biggrin:

Sorry Joe, the devil made me do it :oh:
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My kid is enlightened in the ways of the Buckeye
Best Buckeye;617273; said:
SO who all has the idea in their mind like me that this years team could turn out to be a second half team. And that it could be contributable to the depth of the team?
We shall see what happens down the road.

No doubt you're right. Rotating two offensive lines - even in critical points of the game - bodes well for tOSU. Plus defensively we put everyone on the field. This means strong finishes, and fewer injuries. I belive that Tress is positioning us for the entire season, maybe at the cost of high scores.

Plus, everyone plays a #1 team like it's the NC game.
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Capo Regime
Staff member
MondayAMGenius;617289; said:
I belive that Tress is positioning us for the entire season, maybe at the cost of high scores.

Thank you. I'm not sure why this is not recognized more...JT is always looking at the big picture. Sometimes it costs some "beauty" points, but has proven to be effective in late October and Novemeber.
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Best Buckeye

Pretending I'm a pleasant person is exhausting.
Staff member
osugrad21;617294; said:
Thank you. I'm not sure why this is not recognized more...JT is always looking at the big picture. Sometimes it costs some "beauty" points, but has proven to be effective in late October and Novemeber.

Of course JT is right. He knows the Big 10 is hard and teams get beat up on.
We fans on the other hand want instant gratification and huge blowouts every game. It's what feeds our own "feeding frenzy" So while we do "recognize " it we , as fans don't care.
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Capo Regime
Staff member

On a rainy day, the 'D' came to play

David Briggs

Media Credit: Matthew Hashiguchi
Antonio Pittman charges into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game in the third quarter. The Buckeyes dug deep Saturday to beat the Nittany Lions 28-6.

Style points are for figure skaters, pop stars and the Pac-10.

Not for life in the trenches of the Big Ten.

If it wasn't always pretty, victory - and payback - was plenty sweet for top-ranked Ohio State Saturday as they overcame a halftime deficit to top Penn State, 28-6, before a rain-soaked Ohio Stadium crowd of 105,266.

The score was somewhat deceptive in that the Buckeyes did not put this one away until the final four minutes when a defense that has been improbably overpowering returned a pair of interceptions for scores.

But the Buckeyes opened their conference slate on top, ran their record to 4-0 and - coupled with their win earlier this year against Texas - have avenged their only two losses from last year.

"I've never been accused of style," coach Jim Tressel said. "When you get into your conference, there's nothing stylish about it. They're battles."

The title road hardly gets any smoother. OSU now heads west for a Saturday night visit with No. 13 Iowa and to Michigan State two weeks later. But just like the 2002 championship team, this year's edition knows full well the league's cardinal rule.

"Just win," senior defensive end Jay Richardson said. "And when you're No. 1, it doesn't matter how you win. Just find a way."

Such was the story on a day that featured a mythical Big Ten atmosphere. Steady rains muddied the field, Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny was forced off the field by what the referee described as a jersey "saturated with blood," the passing game was an afterthought, there was a game-turning goal-line stand and the fifth-largest crowd in the Horseshoe's history was in a perpetual frenzy.

"That is the funnest game I've played so far because of its physicalness and toughness," said senior defensive tackle David Patterson. "They really challenged our heart and our will."

So it was fitting that the game was won by OSU on the ground with junior tailback Antonio Pittman, who finished with 110 yards and a score. The high-powered game of pitch and catch between Troy Smith and Ted Ginn Jr. went missing. And the thing was, nobody seemed to care.

Smith, who despite a lackluster offensive effort managed to give Heisman voters something to think about with a spectacular, scrambling 37-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Brian Robiskie that was the game's defining moment, was counting the blessings of another win more than anyone.

"That's the mark of a championship-caliber team," the senior quarterback said. "Keep plugging away, keep going, keep going, keep going."

Still, the celebratory post-game tone looked to be in doubt, which had everything to do with an offense that was expected to carry the team this year.

For the second straight week, OSU's offense looked listless from the game's onset. After going into the half last week up just 13-7 against lowly Cincinnati, the Buckeyes could not get anything going early. Smith looked out of sorts, throwing for just 34 yards in the first half and finishing the game with a pair of picks, the first since Nov. 12, 2005, ending a span of 152 consecutive passes without an interception.

The first half saw the Buckeyes shut out by a defense ranked fifth in the Big Ten and a secondary with four new starters that was allowing over 207 yards per game through the air.

Down, 3-0, guard Doug Datish provided the Cliffs Notes version of the locker room environment.

"We came together and coach Tressel gave an inspiring speech and we went out and did our thing in the second half," the senior said.

Tressel laughed, gave a sideways glare to Datish and offered this: "There's some fiction out there."

Inspiring speech or not, the message worked. Staying committed to the run, Pittman finished a drive he spearheaded with a 12-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.

It was then that Smith put his name back in the Heisman race - in a way a 400-yard passing day could not have done - with perhaps the college play of the year. One dazzling pass from Smith's right arm early in the fourth quarter put the Buckeyes ahead 14-3, and at last calmed the nerves in Buckeye-land.

On second-and-nine from the PSU 37-yard line, pressure forced Smith out of the pocket wide to the right. But with nobody open, Smith spun back, avoided a sack and reversed field, firing a strike on the run from the OSU 45 to Robiskie is the middle of the end zone.

"Ridiculous," wideout Anthony Gonzalez called the play.

Smith was just hoping he wouldn't be scolded by Tressel.

"I did one of the things that coach always says don't do and that is reverse field," Smith said. "(But) you need moments like that when you're down and out, and things aren't going the way you want them to go. You just got to keep going."

Tressel was not about to question the play or take the instincts of his quarterback out of the mix.

"If he wants to reverse field, it better be a touchdown," Tressel said with a laugh. "But like he said ... sometimes when you're out there in the fray, you have to play."

It was the defense that allowed it to be, it was the game-turning play. OSU allowed just 248 total yards and forced three turnovers, including the late interceptions by sophomore Malcolm Jenkins and senior Antonio Smith.

With nine new starters, the defense was expected to tag along behind an offense that would overwhelm opponents.

But OSU is giving up just eight points per game and has already induced nine turnovers, just three less than the defense's 2005 season total.

"If feels good to go out there and beat them with defense," Antonio Smith said. "People doubted us and people didn't think we can be successful."

Have the questions finally been answered, coach?

"They've answered them through four games," he said, refusing to pour on the praise this early.

The same can be said for the entire puzzle. Adapting to an unfamiliar style of years past, OSU showed this year's team can play whatever style the day calls for, which in the Big Ten often means an ugly brand.

"As bad as we seemed to play at times, to come out with a victory is something very rewarding," Gonzalez said. "That's what's so thrilling."
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Capo Regime
Staff member

G.I. JoePa

David Briggs
Media Credit: David Heasley
Penn State coach Joe Paterno jogged off the field near the end of the first half of their 28-6 loss to the Buckeyes with flu-like symptoms.

Joe Paterno has twice missed games, once in 1955 to bury his father and again in 1977 to spend time with his ailing son. But never in his 57 years at Penn State has the Nittany Lions coach left a game in progress.

Yet the 79-year-old coach was seen jogging across the field en route to PSU's locker room with 7:05 remaining in the second quarter. Paterno, who said he had been dealing with a bout of the flu during the week, was apparently losing a battle with what he called the "old G.I. disease."

"I had some kind of bug during the week," Paterno said. "I'm not a guy who likes to take pills or see a doctor. I thought I'd be fine, but I wasn't."

Paterno briefly returned to the field before the start of the third quarter, but he retired again to the locker room. The coach came back to the field early in the fourth quarter where he stayed for the remainder of the game.

"I got off the field and did a couple things," Paterno said. "Then I felt better and came back on the field."

Afterward, apparently feeling better, he joked with reporters who peppered him with questions about his illness.

"Can we drop it? I'll say something about it that will make headlines," Paterno said, laughing. "Let's talk about the game. Jeez, are you guys writing for a medical journal or what?"

On the Ohio State sideline, most were unaware of Paterno's situation. Even OSU coach Jim Tressel, a longtime friend of Paterno, noticed nothing.

"I talked to him before the game and after the game and never saw him in between," Tressel said. "Is he OK?"

He was.

"It was easier than if I had stayed out there," Paterno said when asked if it was difficult to stay off the sideline.

Fans come through

The results of the challenge issued last week by senior offensive lineman T.J. Downing to Buckeye Nation are in, and the fans responded.

"It was the loudest I've ever heard Ohio Stadium," Downing said. "They responded to my challenge, stepped up to the plate and came up big. Big ups to them for that noise."

The crest came midway through the fourth quarter. With OSU ahead 14-3, Penn State had the ball at the Buckeyes 1-yard line on fourth down. The Nittany Lions were going to go for it, knowing a score could swing the momentum back their way.

But a few yards away from the student section, it was not going to happen. The noise forced a false start from the offensive line and Penn State had to settle for a field goal.

"I think they might have even been louder on that fourth-and-one play (than Penn State fans last year)," Downing said. "It was the loudest I've heard it in my five years."

"They had their fans out and they played a factor in the game," said Derrick Williams, PSU receiver.

Looking for a title ring?

Former OSU tailback Lydell Ross's 2002 national championship ring is up for sale on eBay.

He is not the seller, but a source informed The Columbus Dispatch that Ross sold the ring and his gold pants charm from OSU's 2004 win over Michigan to a middle man for $3,000.

During a check of the auction last night, the high bid for the ring had reached over $9,000.

After a maligned OSU career, marred by ineffective play and a 2003 incident in which he was accused of using counterfeit money at a strip club, Ross has been cut by multiple NFL teams.

Field replaced, artificial turf on the way?

The Ohio Stadium turf saw its last day of life Saturday. And the same may soon be true for the Horseshoe's days of natural grass.

The field was torn up yesterday after an unusually wet August, coupled with the 3-year-old surface's accumulated wear, made for substandard playing conditions. The new turf, which will cost about $100,000, will be ready for the Bowling Green game on Oct. 7.

Tressel hinted this could simply be a quick fix before Ohio Stadium goes to an artificial surface.

"Would we consider artificial," Tressel said. "We always, at Ohio State, consider everything.

"In 1990 when we went away from the artificial, the whole discussion was injuries and how hard the turf was back then. Those products are improved now. I'm sure those kinds of discussions happen, especially when you consider how much time, energy and money is spent on keeping a field good in this part of the country."


"It's a great example of good things happening to good people ... Everyone said Antonio's a good guy, but he might never play here. All of a sudden he was on special teams. Then everyone said, well, Antonio might not be the guy that would end up being a starter, and here he is. It just shows you that smart people with great passion, great toughness, can reach their goals and it's a wonderful story for a young person in today's world." - Tressel on cornerback Antonio Smith, who picked off PSU quarterback Anthony Morelli in and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown in Saturday's fourth quarter. The fifth-year senior earned a scholarship this year after spending his first four years as a walk-on.

Extra points

The Buckeyes have now scored a touchdown in 117-straight games ... OSU has won the last seven meetings with Penn State in Columbus ... Senior defensive lineman Joel Penton notched his first career sack Saturday ... Troy Smith's first quarter interception was OSU's first turnover since freshman tailback Chris Wells fumbled in the opener against NIU.
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Juice, Full of Juice!!
My thoughts, not that they differ a lot from what others think

Attended first skull session with a Michigan, Illini, 3 Buckeye, and 2 WVU fans. I got chills. The other fans were amazed at the experience as well. I highly recommend that to any fan.

Pitcock is amazing. He is SO quick off the ball it is hard for Olineman to get their hands in a good control position then his strength gets him in the back field. Having a tackle able to do that changes what any offense wants to do.

I have a good serving of Crow to eat in regards to James L. The kid is a leader and is getting better week after week. He is only a soph and I tend to forget that sometimes

I have said all year and off-season. Pittman is the best back in the Big Ten. If he weren’t sharing the spotlight with Smith and Ginn he would be a bigger star then he is.

I love on 3rd and short that everyone in the nation knows Chris Wells is getting the ball and he still gets the first down. Great Job Chris, Great Job Oline. I am banking on a huge play action call from that during a big game this season :-).

Jenkins is not only solid he is a difference maker. Russel looks to be a good one. I love what we are seeing out of Washington as well.

Trap is an AWSOME punter what a weapon to have

Our kickers will be fine. Aaron reminds me of young Nuuuge.. Big Leg and will get better and better.

Freeman - Hope he gets it together, in the meantime I hope to see Terry more.

Ginn - I think my expectations of him might be too high but doesn't always seem to give full effort and makes some really bad decisions.

This team has the moxy to win it all. To fight adversity like they did all day Saturday and have the D step up time and time again is a huge sign of what this team can do.
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Wingate1217;616102; said:
Actually if I remember the replay when the ball was spiked it looked like he actually spiked it in the end zone. As they say if the ball crosses the plane of the end zone, it doesn't matter what happens next, it is still a TD. Although I am sure he will get talked to by the staff. After all you are supposed to as an OSU player to hand the ball to the official. If Malcolm had done that this dicussion would be moot......:)
Unless he gives it to the official before he crosses the goal line... :tongue2:
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