Sunday, August 31, 2003

No. 2 Buckeyes put on a No. 1 performance

17th-rated Huskies no match for the defending champions

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Washington quarterback Cody Pickett (3) is sacked by Ohio State defensive end Simon Fraser (75) in the first quarter Saturday.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
COLUMBUS - Ohio State's Craig Krenzel found no receivers open, so he took off up the middle. Washington's Derrick Johnson closed for a tackle but hesitated, as if anticipating a feet-first slide, and Krenzel juked him and raced in for a 23-yard touchdown.

It's the same sort of miscalculation voters may have made about the Buckeyes.

Those expecting Ohio State to tiptoe in its title defense must not know this team. Or remember that a rocky summer and the absence of Maurice Clarett don't diminish the talent of its 16 returning starters.

The second-ranked Buckeyes beat No. 17 Washington 28-9 in the season opener Saturday night, in a fashion that will make for an interesting vote in this week's polls.

OSU had 28 first-place votes, one fewer than Oklahoma, in the Associated Press preseason poll. The Buckeyes' dominant showing Saturday, in which they led 21-0 at halftime, may look more impressive than the 37-3 victory the Sooners posted over middling North Texas.

A crowd of 105,078 - the third-largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history - saw the Buckeyes roll past a team that boasted Heisman candidates in quarterback Cody Pickett and receiver Reggie Williams, sending a message to the voters.

"More than anything, it was a message to ourselves," Krenzel said. "We feel confident about the players we have . . . that any week we can play with anyone in the country. We set more expectations on ourselves than anyone."

Saturday, the less-celebrated Krenzel outshone Pickett, completing 15 of 27 passes for 203 yards while also rushing for two TDs. Pickett was 26-of-49 for 255 yards, with most of his yardage coming in garbage time.

OSU totaled 237 first-half yards to UW's 77. An OSU defense that allowed just 13.1 points per game last season wasn't about to blow that three-TD lead.

It was a pads-popping performance, as the Buckeyes intimidated Huskies receivers into drops by delivering big hits throughout.

"We were flying around, making good tackles," defensive tackle Tim Anderson said.

The Buckeyes stretched the nation's longest winning streak to 15 games, which is second in school history only to a 22-game run between 1967-69.

"I feel good about how hard we played," coach Jim Tressel said. "Since back in January, our players put their noses to the grindstone and practiced hard to get better. We've got a long way to go . . . But our guys' effort tonight was special."

Clarett, who is suspended indefinitely, wasn't needed. Junior Maurice Hall, starting in his place, rushed for 58 yards and a TD on 15 carries. Junior Lydell Ross totaled 43 yards and a score on 12 carries.

"I don't know about one distancing themselves from the other," Tressel said of Hall and Ross. "I thought they both played hard."

Not that it mattered much who ran the ball. The Buckeyes' 142 rushing yards were 135 more than the Huskies.

Clarett, dressed in street clothes, watched from the sidelines. He began the game standing by himself, but soon mingled with teammates and became animated, waving a towel.

The first series was unimpressive: one first down, then a punt. But the Buckeyes would reach Washington territory on all six remaining drives in the half, scoring on three of them.

The Huskies would cross midfield just once in the half, that drive dying at the 42.

OSU has won its last 25 home openers.

Ohio State14770-28
First Quarter

OSU-M.Hall 2 run (Nugent kick), 8:31.

OSU-Krenzel 23 run (Nugent kick), 2:51.

Second Quarter

OSU-Krenzel 11 run (Nugent kick), 0:11.

Third Quarter

Wash-FG Knudson 46, 13:22.

OSU-Ross 15 run (Nugent kick), 6:06.

Fourth Quarter

Wash-Pickett 2 run (run failed), 3:27.


First downs1521
Return Yards2939
Time of Possession28:0131:59


RUSHING-Washington, Alexis 14-24, Frederick 1-4, Eriks 1-3, James 1-0, Pickett 7-(minus-24). Ohio St., M.Hall 15-58, Ross 12-43, Krenzel 8-27, Gamble 1-15, Smith 1-2, Guilford 5-2, Parker 1-(minus-5).

PASSING-Washington, Pickett 26-49-0-255. Ohio St., Krenzel 15-27-0-203, McMullen 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING-Washington, Williams 10-107, Frederick 6-69, Toledo 3-26, Alexis 3-23, Eriks 2-10, Daniels 1-11, Seery 1-9. Ohio St., Jenkins 6-80, Childress 2-18, Carter 1-37, Hamby 1-21, R.Hall 1-18, Ross 1-12, M.Hall 1-8, Holmes 1-8, Hartsock 1-1.

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