No. 1 Ohio State gets defensive in 44-0 win
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State's defense is proving that experience is overrated.
While quarterback Troy Smith buffed up his Heisman Trophy numbers by running for one touchdown and throwing for another, top-ranked Ohio State's defense dominated in a 44-0 victory over Minnesota yesterday.
"Everybody anticipated a drop-off with the caliber of players they lost last year," Minnesota coach Glen Mason said of the Buckeyes, who had to replace nine starters. "I don't see any drop-off, nor have the other people who have played them. They're a fine defensive team."
Antonio Pittman rushed for two scores for the Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten), who have won every game this season by at least 17 points. They play lowly Illinois and Northwestern, both 2-7, the next two weeks while tuning up for the regular-season finale against No. 2 Michigan on Nov. 18 at Ohio Stadium.
"Putting points on the board is cool but I guess the way you do it, how you do it, is the most important thing," Smith said. "We've just got to keep rolling."
Jack Nicklaus, a former Ohio State golfer who grew up in the Columbus area, received a thunderous standing ovation at halftime when he "dotted the "i" in the band's signature maneuver, Script Ohio.
The Buckeyes, for the most part, were substantially under par on this day. It was another impressive performance by a defense that came in tied for the national lead in fewest points allowed (8.2 per game). Only two teams have scored more than seven against Ohio State this season.
Ohio State intercepted Minnesota's Bryan Cupito three times — Malcolm Jenkins, Antonio Smith and Jamario O'Neal each had one — and never faced a serious threat from the Golden Gophers (3-6, 0-5), despite playing without stellar defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock, who was out with a concussion.
The offense piled up 484 yards, though three lost fumbles kept the score from being more one-sided before a homecoming crowd of 105,443.
Smith's Heisman moment came with Ohio State in command early in the third quarter.
He kept the ball on a run off left tackle and then cut back against the grain and outran the defense to score on a 21-yard touchdown run to make it 24-0.
"He's gone next year, right?" Minnesota cornerback Dominic Jones said hopefully. "You get good coverage — and then there he goes. That's what a running quarterback can do for you and a Heisman candidate can do."
Smith also tossed an 18-yard scoring pass to Brian Robiskie, completing 14-of-21 passes for 183 yards with no interceptions while rushing for 43 yards on six attempts. Smith has 22 TD passes and only two interceptions this season.
Pittman gained 116 yards on 21 carries and scored on runs of 10 and 13 yards. Chris Wells and Justin Zwick added short touchdown runs.
It was a stunning turnaround for Ohio State's defense. A year ago, Cupito passed for 396 yards and helped the Golden Gophers pile up 578 yards — the second-most against Ohio State in 117 years of football. The Buckeyes still won, 45-31.
This time the Gophers never got going and finished with 182 yards — they had four more yards in punting than in offense.
"Our defense did a great job of handling the tempo of the game," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said.
The Buckeyes' defense lost three first-round NFL picks and three others who went in the top four rounds of last year's draft. The fill-ins and unknowns have been terrific.
"Even though we won last year it was like a loss because they ran and threw so well on us," lineman Jay Richardson said. "We took it as a challenge."
The Gophers punted the ball away the first three times they had it before getting stopped on a fourth-and-1 run at the Ohio State 29 and then turned the ball over on an interception.
The Buckeyes scored on their first two possessions and then toyed with the Golden Gophers the rest of the day.
"We started the second half with a turnover and a lack of field position," Mason said. "And then the bottom fell out."
NO. 2 MICHIGAN 17, NORTHWESTERN 3
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Mike Hart ran for 95 yards and a touchdown to lead the Wolverines (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) in a rain-soaked win over the Wildcats (2-7, 0-5).
Northwestern trailed only 10-3 midway through the third quarter against Michigan when Leon Hall, who had a fumble recovery earlier in the game, intercepted a pass from Wildcats quarterback C.J. Bacher to set up the Wolverines at the Northwestern 36. Hart's 3-yard scoring run made it 17-3 with 4:05 left in the third quarter.
NO. 7 AUBURN 23, MISSISSIPPI 17
OXFORD, Miss. — Brandon Cox passed for a season-high 253 yards and a touchdown and John Vaughn kicked three second-half field goals as the Tigers (8-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) beat the Rebels (2-7, 1-5).
The Tigers trailed Mississippi twice, but Auburn converted two third-quarter interceptions thrown by Brent Schaeffer into 10 points. Vaughn's 20-yarder put the Tigers up for good, 20-17, with 7:35 left in fourth quarter and his 29-yarder sealed it with 35 seconds left.
NO. 8 TENNESSEE 31, SOUTH CAROLINA 24
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Erik Ainge threw two touchdown passes to Bret Smith as the Volunteers (7-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) defeated the Gamecocks (5-3, 3-3).
Ainge found Smith on a 12-yard TD pass to put the Vols (7-1, 3-1) ahead for good, 21-17, with 13:10 left in the fourth quarter. Tennessee's Jonathan Hefney had a 65-yard punt return to South Carolina's 5 and Arian Foster scored on the next play.
NO. 9 FLORIDA 21, GEORGIA 14
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida's defense forced two fumbles and intercepted two passes, helping the Gators (7-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) beat the Bulldogs (6-3, 3-3).
Although Andre Caldwell scored two early touchdowns — a 12-yard run and a 40-yard reception from Chris Leak — Florida's defense got the credit for this one. The Gators led 21-0 after Georgia fumbled on the opening play of the second half. Derrick Harvey knocked the ball out of Kregg Lumpkin's hands, and Ray McDonald returned it 9 yards for a score.
NO. 11 NOTRE DAME 38, NAVY 14
BALTIMORE — Brady Quinn accounted for four touchdowns and the Irish (7-1) amassed a season-high 471 yards to defeat the Midshipmen (5-3).
Quinn threw touchdown passes of 36, 33 and 6 yards, and ran 19 yards for a score. With Quinn leading the way, the Irish scored on their first five possessions to take a 31-14 lead. Navy quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, a 2004 Kapolei alum, scored two touchdowns in his first college start and Reggie Campbell ran for 81 yards.
NO. 13 ARKANSAS 44, LOUISIANA-MONROE 10
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Darren McFadden ran for 129 yards and a touchdown — and also threw for a score — to help Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt earn his 100th coaching victory, beating the visiting Warhawks (1-7).
McFadden entered as the Southeastern Conference's leading rusher, but the Razorbacks scored two first-half touchdowns with him at quarterback, a new wrinkle in their offense. Nutt is 100-63 in 13 1/2 seasons with Murray State, Boise State and the Razorbacks.
NO. 17 WISCONSIN 30, ILLINOIS 24
MADISON, Wis. — Forced to play much of the way without star running back P.J. Hill, the Badgers (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) rallied from a 24-10 halftime deficit with 20 straight points to beat the Illini (2-7, 1-4).
Tight end Andy Crooks fell on his fumble in the end zone for a touchdown that put the Badgers ahead 27-24 with 14:50 remaining. Hill limped off the field late in the first quarter and played only a few more snaps before he left the game for good after a separate injury midway through the third. He finished with 50 yards on 12 carries.
NO. 18 BOSTON COLL. 41, BUFFALO 0
BOSTON — Chris Crane filled in for sore starter Matt Ryan and overcame a soaking rain to run for two touchdowns and throw for another as the Eagles (7-1) beat the Bulls (1-7).
Crane completed 17-of-26 passes for 142 yards to lead BC (7-1) to scores on its first four possessions. L.V. Whitworth ran for 84 yards and a touchdown, and Andre Callender had 81 yards rushing as the Eagles did not need to punt until late in the third quarter — and that was called back for a roughing the kicker penalty.
NO. 19 OKLAHOMA 26, NO. 23 MISSOURI 10
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Paul Thompson threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Sooners (6-2, 3-1 Big 12) turned five Tigers' mistakes into points.
Two interceptions, a fumble, a blocked punt and a roughing the kicker penalty set up every score for the Sooners against the Tigers (7-2, 3-2). Thompson was 11 for 19 for 127 yards. Oklahoma's Allen Patrick, in his second game as a starting for the injured Adrian Peterson, carried 36 times for 162 yards.
OKLAHOMA ST. 41, NO. 20 NEBRASKA 29
STILLWATER, Okla. — Dantrell Savage ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns, and Nathan Peterson returned a fumble for another score as the Cowboys (5-3, 2-2 Big 12) upset the Huskers.
Savage scored his second touchdown of the game on a 20-yard run on the second play of the fourth quarter, capping the Cowboys' comeback from an early 16-point deficit. It's just the fourth win for Oklahoma State in 41 games against Nebraska but the second straight for the Cowboys in Stillwater.
NO. 21 GEORGIA TECH 30, MIAMI 23
ATLANTA — One week after failing to catch a pass for the first time in his career, Calvin Johnson hauled in a tiebreaking, 1-yard touchdown with 6:18 remaining as the Yellow Jackets (6-2, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat the Hurricanes (5-3, 2-2).
Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice rushed for 107 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown with 3 1/2 minutes left in a wild fourth quarter. The Yellow Jackets scored 17 straight points to take a seemingly comfortable 30-16 lead, but Kyle Wright hooked up with Greg Olsen on a 41-yard touchdown pass that made it close.
NO. 22 TEXAS A&M 31, BAYLOR 21
WACO, Texas — Martellus Bennett rumbled 75 yards on one of his two touchdown catches and Mike Goodson added a game-clinching 64-yard TD run with 2:15 left to lift the Aggies (8-1, 4-1 Big 12) over the Bears (4-5, 3-2).
The Aggies had a third-and-4 when Goodson broke to the left sideline and raced virtually untouched to score for a 31-21 lead. A replay showed the freshman may have dropped the ball just before crossing the goal line, but Baylor couldn't challenge since it had called its final timeout.
NO. 24 WAKE FOREST 24, NORTH CAROLINA 17
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Riley Skinner threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Ken Moore, and Jon Abbate intercepted a pass in the end zone to seal the Demon Deacons' (7-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) win over the Tar Heels (1-7, 0-5).
Abbate picked off Joe Dailey on the game's final play after the Tar Heels drove to the Wake Forest 3 with 41 seconds left. North Carolina was playing its first game since the firing of coach John Bunting, effective at the end of the season, and the Tar Heels fell to 0-7 against I-A opponents.
NO. 25 OREGON 55, PORTLAND STATE 12
EUGENE, Ore. — Reserve Jeremiah Johnson ran for 90 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Ducks (6-2) past the Division I-AA Vikings (5-4).
Johnson, filling in for injured starter Jonathan Stewart, had TDs of 1, 6 and 1 yards in the first half. Portland State's Mu'Ammar Ali rushed for 127 yards in the first half, including a 57-yard TD run. He finished with 139 yards.