It's hard to remember a more anticipated opening game. Fans were
looking forward to this game for months, wondering what this year's team would
bring. Sometimes, trying to figure out what the team would look like
boggled the mind.
It was worth the wait.
Today, Ohio State came out and pounded Texas Tech, 45-21. Many expected
the game to be close, but the Buckeyes established themselves early and were
largely dominant the rest of the way.
The game started symbolically with a fine play from a true freshman as Texas
Tech took the opening kickoff and was stopped back at the 8-yard line after a
strong open-field tackle by Bobby Carpenter. From there, Texas Tech went three
and out, and then after a fine punt return by Mike Doss, the Buckeyes had great
field position at the Texas Tech 32. The Buckeyes moved the ball down
steadily with short passes and runs (and a key 3rd down dumpoff from Craig
Krenzel to Maurice Clarett), and Lydell Ross punched it in shortly after for a
Texas Tech got the ball back, but had to punt shortly after as Will Smith's
first sack of the year helped hold the Red Raiders in check. A great punt
followed though, and the Buckeyes had to start at their own 4-yard line.
Krenzel would make another big play as on 3rd down on the first set of downs, he
dropped back to pass and couldn't find anyone open and then scampered for a big
23-yard gain. Shortly after, the Buckeyes had a 3rd down and short, and
Maurice Clarett took the handoff and burst through the hole for a 59-yard
touchdown, making it 14-0 Buckeyes.
Texas Tech came back on the next drive though. The Red Raiders drove
down to the OSU 37-yard line, and they were faced with a 4th and 2, but they
gambled and went for it. The gamble paid off as on that play, QB Kliff
Kingsbury hit WR Carlos Francis on a slant for a 37-yard touchdown. It was
The two teams traded three-and-outs after that, but then when OSU got the
ball again, they would drive the ball down and extend the lead behind more good
running by Clarett and Krenzel and a nifty catch by Ben Hartsock. Lydell
Ross punched it in from 1 yard out to make it 21-7.
The teams traded three-and-outs again, but then Texas Tech put together a
drive and they were looking poised to score again before the half. Two big
gains off short passes and a personal foul penalty on OSU helped TT get down to
within striking distance, and the Red Raiders would have the ball at the 1-yard
line on fourth down. But the Raiders tried to run it in and were stacked
up on a big goal-line stand, giving the ball back to the Buckeyes. From
there, the two teams each had one more drive, but the score would remain the
same going into halftime -- 21-7 Ohio State.
The Buckeyes received the kickoff in the second half, and it didn't take long
for them to strike as a nice run by Maurice Hall and a Michael Jenkins-catch
helped set up another big Maurice Clarett TD run, this time from 45 yards
out. The score moved to 28-7 OSU. On the next drive, TT drove
down and it looked like they would punch it in when Kliff Kingsbury had a wide
receiver open in the end zone, but he made a poor pass which was picked off on
an athletic play by Dustin Fox. The Bucks had dodged another score took
over on the 20.
More Clarett running and a Jenkins and Chris Gamble catch helped drive the
Buckeyes downfield on the ensuing drive, but it stopped short on third
down. The Bucks were within range for a long field goal though. Mike
Nugent came on for his first opportunity of the year and nailed it -- a
45-yarder right through the uprights to make it 31-7.
Texas Tech would go three-and-out after that and punted it back to OSU, and a
nice return by Chris Gamble, a good run by Maurice Hall, and a Maurice Clarett
TD run made it 38-7. That was about all she wrote... Texas Tech would
score two late touchdowns, and the Buckeyes answered in between those with a
good drive that was capped by a Scott McMullen 1-yd TD dive, and the game ended
Maurice Clarett was the biggest story as he went for 175 yards on 21 carries
and 3 TDs in his first game as a true freshman. The stats were only part
of the story though as Maurice really looked like a complete back out
there. He blocked well and made an impact as a receiver also as he had 4
catches for 30 yards. This showed just how good he is; he really seems
advanced in other facets of the game for a true freshman.
Craig Krenzel also played well. Coming in, no one was asking Craig to
win the game for the Buckeyes, just to lead the offense and make good
decisions. He did exactly that, and he showed a knack for making plays
under pressure as well. He showed running ability that is sneaky-good as
he ran for 34 yards on 4 carries and came up big a couple of times on third
down. The offense looked smooth with him at the controls.
And give it up for the offensive line, who also played well. 315
rushing yards don't come without some big holes, and there were definitely some
of those today. Mike Stafford was a great story in his first start
ever. The Buckeye OL also showed some good pass protection as well.
If this OL continues to play well, this team could be in for lots of Ws this
Defensively, OSU just got the job done. Not everything was perfect, but
they did a fine job keeping the TT passing attack under control. There
were a few 15-yard penalties we could do without, but mostly, the D looked good,
and the pressure on Kingsbury was effective. Will Smith reportedly had 2
sacks and Cie Grant chipped in with 2 more (the team had seven total... TT
allowed 26 all of last year). Kingsbury's 341 passing yards were deceptive
as the D by and large did what they needed to do.
This is a heck of a start for OSU. Lots of people are wondering just
how good Texas Tech is, but the guess here is they will be good enough to get
back to another bowl game, and OSU manhandled them. The Buckeyes put in a
pretty darn good performance today.
Next up is a bye week, then Kent State comes to town, then a challenge
against Washington State. You will see several teams this year who do not
look this good in their first game of the season. If this team only gets
better from here, big things could indeed happen.
Allen Injury: Safety Will Allen went out late with a right shoulder
sprain. No word on his status.
What Distractions? Any concern about OSU being distracted by
off-the-field issues certainly disappeared quickly, didn't it? :-)
Walk-ons Contribute: The walk-ons are making some noise. Mike
Stafford proved that you shouldn't count them out, and a handful got to play
today, including CB Chris Conwell, K Jeremy Uhlenhake, S Steven Moore, LS Kyle
Andrews, and TE David Andrews.
Freshman Watch: What freshmen will see the field this year? We
got a big answer today. In addition to Clarett (yeah, I'd say he played),
freshmen who saw the field were LB Bobby Carpenter, LB Mike D'Andrea, LB A.J.
Hawk, DB Nate Salley, DB Tyler Everett, DB E.J. Underwood, DE Mike Kudla, and DL
Joel Penton. They made some noise too; in addition to Carpenter's big
opening tackle, A.J. Hawk made a crushing hit on Kliff Kingsbury and Mike
D'Andrea was putting some pressure on Kingsbury when he was in there. The
commentators, Brad Nessler and Bob Griese, were impressed.
Herbie Beaming: On ESPN just a few minutes ago, Kirk Herbstreit was
visibly excited over OSU's performance today. Chris Fowler was also
impressed as he said he was going to vote OSU in the top 6 or 7 in the next
The Nuge: Mike Nugent had a great day kicking as he looked good
at both placekicking and kicking off. The lack of Texas Tech touchbacks
was not due to him (we all saw their kooky kick returner who ran the ball out
more than once after catching it in the back of the end zone). Mike's
field goal was perfect too. Just another aspect of this great performance.
FB Situation: Brandon Schnittker and Jack Tucker both played,
and Tucker played quite a bit. It will be interesting to see how this
situation shakes out when Branden Joe gets back.
Burgess Sighting: Warren Harding DB Prescott Burgess did make the
trip... he was in the background during one segment with Lynn Swann. Yes,
recognizing him in that instance probably does suggest we follow recruiting just
a little too closely... :-)
Score from Official Site
Maurice Clarett (13) had a huge day for OSU (Allsport Pic)
Craig Krenzel was a cool customer today (Allsport Pic)
Lydell Ross punches it in (AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)
Will Smith gets one of what should be many sacks this season (AP Photo/Terry
Coach Tressel watches from the sidelines in the third quarter (AP Photo/Terry