Ohio State flexed its muscle against instate rival Ohio University, scoring on each of its first six possessions and running away with a 43-7 victory Saturday afternoon in front of 105,075 fans at sun-drenched Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes set the tempo early, outgaining the Bobcats by a 149-2 margin in the first quarter and rushing out to a 17-0 lead. By the time the opening period had ended, backup quarterback Joe Bauserman had already relieved starter Terrelle Pryor.
Before Pryor took his first-quarter rest, he had already completed 8 of his first 9 pass attempts for 94 yards and a touchdown and scrambled 13 yards for another score. The junior QB went on to complete 16 straight passes at one juncture – a new school record – and finished 22 for 29 for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Pryor also threw his first two interceptions of the 2010 season.
Jim Karsatos had held the OSU single-game record with 12 consecutive completions during a 12-7 home loss to Wisconsin in 1985.
“Sixteen in a row is pretty darned good,” OSU head coach Jim Tressel said after the game. “He finished 22 for 29, which was pretty fair. I think he’d like to have a couple of those back. Interceptions ruin the day in a quarterback’s mind. … (Terrelle will) be happy when he has 29 straight. (But) that’s his nature. That’s why you love working with him.”
The Buckeyes wound up with a lopsided 439-158 advantage in total yardage over the mistake-prone Bobcats, who committed five turnovers. OSU also held huge edges in first downs (22-7), offensive plays (77-48) and time of possession (37:56-22:04). The Buckeyes were also 5 of 14 on third-down conversion while Ohio was 2 for 10. More than half of the Bobcats’ first downs and total yardage as well as both of their third-down conversions came in the fourth quarter against OSU’s second- and third-team defense.
“I thought we seized control of the game early, and the biggest thing is keeping your execution at a high pitch after that,” Tressel said. “We got a lot of guys in the game – 70 or so snaps from each side of the ball to study and hopefully we’ll get better.”
Despite the big advantage in yardage, Ohio State rushed for a season-low 158 yards. Still, the Buckeyes made the most of those yards with a trio of rushing touchdowns – two by junior tailback Dan “Boom” Herron and one by Pryor. Senior co-captain Brandon Saine was the team’s leading rusher with 48 yards on 12 carries while Pryor and Herron accounted for 35 and 27, respectively.
Three different OSU receivers – wideouts DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher and tight end Jake Stoneburner – caught five passes each. Posey led the way in yardage with 62 while Stoneburner was close behind with 61 as well as his first career touchdown reception. Sanzenbacher added 58.
Bauserman was 4 for 7 for 45 yards backing up Pryor. Redshirt freshman Kenny Guiton also saw action for the Buckeyes under center in the final minute and a half but did not attempt a pass.
Defensively, Ohio State was led by senior linebacker Ross Homan, who had a team-high seven tackles to go along with an interception and a forced fumble. Defensive ends Cameron Heyward and Nathan Williams each recovered a fumble as did cornerback Devon Torrence while safety Tyler Moeller had the Buckeyes’ other interception.
OSU wasted no time dictating tempo when the defense created a turnover on the game’s second play from scrimmage. Devon Torrence tipped an Ohio pass and Moeller grabbed the interception to give the Buckeyes the ball at the OU 31.
Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t fully cash in on the golden opportunity and had to settle for a 32-yard field goal from senior Devin Barclay and a 3-0 lead at the 12:05 mark of the first quarter.
The Bobcats responded by attacking what has been Ohio State’s Achilles heel so far this season – kick return coverage. Senior Julian Posey – DeVier’s older brother – took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for an apparent touchdown but an illegal block penalty on the Bobcats nullified the return.
OSU’s defense responded by forcing a three-and-out series and then Pryor engineered an eight-play, 55-yard drive, topping it off with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Saine. Barclay added the PAT for a 10-0 lead.
Pryor scrambled 13 yards for the Buckeyes’ next touchdown for a 17-0 lead at the 3:11 mark of the first quarter, and then Barclay opened the second-quarter scoring with a 33-yard field goal to make it 20-0 with 13:17 to go until halftime.
Ohio State added two more touchdowns before the break with Stoneburner grabbing a 5-yard scoring pass from Pryor at the 10:25 mark and Herron tacking on a 2-yard run with 8:22 remaining.
The Buckeyes had another scoring chance go by the boards late in the second quarter when the defense stuffed Ohio on a fourth-and-1 play and took over possession at their own 45 with 1:06 left in the first half. But after marching his team to the OU 22-yard line with 20 seconds to go, Pryor was sacked for an 8-yard loss and then threw an interception on the next play.
OSU padded its lead with 6:09 left in the third quarter when senior defensive end Cameron Heyward tackled Ohio tailback Vince Davidson in the end zone for a safety. That made it 36-0 in favor of the Buckeyes, and they marched 55 yards with the ensuing free kick, capping the drive with a 1-yard, fourth-down touchdown plunge by Herron.
Barclay added the PAT for a 43-0 cushion with 0:41 showing on the third-quarter clock.
Ohio ruined the shutout with a fourth-quarter touchdown pass of 11 yards from backup quarterback Boo Jackson to receiver Terrence McCrae with 6:14 remaining.
Jackson relieved starter Phil Bates in the fourth quarter and completed 5 of 8 attempts for 69 yards. Bates was pressured all day by the OSU defense and managed to connect on only 4 of 9 passes for 13 yards. He was also intercepted twice.
The Buckeyes failed to sack Bates, but he was forced to scramble 10 times and wound up his team’s leading rusher with 53 yards.
Ohio State (3-0) plays another Mid-American Conference team next week when it hosts Eastern Michigan (0-2). The Eagles, losers of 14 games in a row and 19 of their last 20, were hosting MAC rival Central Michigan later this afternoon.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. Eastern with the game televised on ABC and ESPN using the reverse mirror effect.
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