Nugent plays big role in win

In OSU kicker Mike Nugent and Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding, you saw two of the top kickers in America on the same field this past Saturday. Kaeding scored a touchdown for the Hawkeyes, but Nugent and the Buckeyes came out victorious.

Somewhat lost in the match-up between the defending Co-Big Ten champions was the battle, or more like the friendly rivalry, between the two best place-kickers in the conference and quite possibly the entire nation.

With both Mike Nugent and Nate Kaeding of Iowa coming off of career-type seasons last year, there was obviously an implied competition for supremacy when they're both on the same playing field. After all, Kaeding edged-out Nugent for the Lou Groza award last year.

Amidst a chorus of "Nuuu's" coming from the Buckeye faithful, Nugent struck first when he connected on a career-long 53-yard field goal in the Buckeyes' opening drive of the contest.

"I kind of like it," said Nugent about the refrain echoing from the stands. "A couple of games ago, whenever it happened the first time, I thought everyone was booing me. I'm like, ‘Gosh, I hope I didn't do anything to make any of the fans mad.' But I kind of realized what they were saying pretty much right away. It's nice just knowing the crowd's behind you, and hopefully they know that you're going to get the 3 out of it."

Nugent didn't disappoint. The long field goal was his ninth successful kick in 10 attempts this year, giving him 41 over his career and tying him for third with Vlade Janakievski on the school's all-time career field goal list.

"I think what I thought was the best of all (about it) was that it got the 3 points for everybody," Nugent said. "In my own head, I was like 'yeah, it was good that I hit a 53-yarder,' but I thought it was no difference than really hitting a 22-yarder just because I knew it was such a close game, and I knew it would be a game that came down to special teams. I think all but two points in the whole game from special teams today, so I knew it would come down to something like that."

There was some indecision on the OSU sideline for a brief moment before actually going ahead with the long attempt.

"I don't know if anyone noticed, but we were a little hesitant whether we were going to take it or not because of the wind conditions," Nugent said. "I kind of gave Coach (Jim Tressel) a little nod and just said we can hit this one. The thing about that is that if I give him the nod, that thing better go through."

As has become the norm, Nugent hit it strong and through.

"It felt real solid," he said. "I hit it real good, and when I picked my head up I saw it going and kind of just looked at B.J. right after that because I knew it was pretty much in. So it felt good just getting the three points out of it."

Kaeding answered Nugent's kick with a 36-yarder later in the half. A perfect nine-for-nine on the campaign for Kaeding who has connected on 56 of his 68 career field goal attempts.

"I think we've grown to have a really good relationship," Nugent said. "I talk to him on the phone every now and then, I really like him a lot. I got to hang out with him for about three or four days during all of those banquets and stuff. It was just kind of nice just to know someone and talk to him after the game, but I don't think there's too much of a rivalry there. Basically I think he'd give you the same answer; he just wants to get as many points as he can for his team."

On a points-only basis, Kaeding edged-out Nugent on the day when he scored a touchdown from 5-yards out on a fake field goal to narrow the margin to 17-10 on the second play of the fourth quarter.

"I was pretty impressed when he ran that one in," said Nugent of his counterpart. "That was a pretty nice job."

Nugent, on the other hand, was involved in a similar, albeit unplanned, scenario on the previous drive before Kaeding scored his touchdown. An errant snap on what would have been a 47-yard attempt by Nugent resulted in a 10-yard loss for the holder, B.J. Sander, leading to Iowa's 60-yard TD drive.

"We actually do have a plan B," Nugent said about the breakdown on the field goal attempt. "This week, if we were going to run a fake, it would have been maybe left, and I kind of made a mistake. Usually we're suppose to call 'Fire' when something happens like that, and I think everyone just kind of hesitated. I kind of sat there just thinking that's never really happened to me in a game before, so I kind of went stiff a little bit. We should have called 'Fire', then maybe a guy will go out for a route.

"I started running right for some reason and I told B.J. that I would always go left. For some reason, something didn't click in my head and I went right and I looked up and there were five guys just waiting for me to get the ball, but it was tough to get it off at that point."

Despite the botched attempt at a field goal try, Nugent stood tall next to Kaeding, figuratively, at game's end having the long kick and of course the victory in his possession. The win was more important to Nugent than any individual competition.

"It definitely felt good to get the win," Nugent said. "It's one of those things where you can't give up. I think we were (ranked) eight going into this game, and we beat the number nine team, so if we just keep winning out from here, it won't be a bad situation wherever we go."


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