The kid is alright.
True freshman Ted Ginn exploded for Ohio State today, scoring on a 17-yard reverse, a 60-yard punt return and a 58-yard late fourth quarter touchdown catch to lead Ohio State to a 32-19 win at Michigan State. The Buckeyes jumped out to a 17-0 lead but struggled much of the rest of the game as the Spartans scored 19 unanswered points to take a late fourth quarter lead. But just as Michigan State seemed to be on their way to victory, Ginn and the Buckeyes showed they had other plans.
Michigan State came out flat to start the game, and the Buckeyes took advantage. After a lackluster three-and-out to start the game, the Buckeyes took over on their own 48-yard line after a Michigan State punt. Ohio State went three-and-out after three straight running plays, but on a 2nd-and-16 on the following possession, OSU cornerback Ashton Youboty intercepted a Damon Dowdell pass and returned the ball to the Michigan State 17. On the second play of the possession, Ted Ginn took a reverse play 17 yards for a touchdown, and a Mike Nugent PAT put Ohio State up 7-0.
Michigan State was forced to punt on the following possession after another three-and-out and more strong Buckeye defense, and the Buckeyes cashed in again as Ginn fielded the rugby-style punt and took it 60 yards for his second touchdown of the game, giving OSU a 14-0 lead with just less than seven minutes gone in the quarter. The return tied Ginn for the school record for punt returns in a season and career with three.
The Spartans continued to sputter on their following possession, going three-and-out once again. OSU took over on their own 46-yard line after a punt and went for the kill right away as Troy Smith fired a bullet downfield to a wide open Santonio Holmes, but the pass slipped through Holmes' hands. OSU wound up settling for a 52-yard Mike Nugent field goal on the drive to give them a 17-0 lead.
Michigan State's following drive woke up the team and the crowd as the Spartans took over on their own 13 and went 87 yards in 16 plays to cut the lead to 17-7. Dowdell hit Jeramy Scott from 9 yards out to get MSU back in the game.
Ohio State sputtered on the next drive and was forced to punt after a three-and-out, and Michigan State continued momentum, moving quickly downfield and reaching the OSU 6-yard line after a 29-yard pass from Dowdell to Kyle Brown on a 3rd-and-long play. A penalty forced the Spartans back to the 20-yard line though, and they were forced to settle for a 27-yard Dave Rayner field goal to make the score 17-10.
The Buckeyes once again could not muster much offense on the next drive, punting the ball after six plays. Kyle Turano shanked the punt, which gave MSU possession at their own 46. After a 16-yard run by Jason Teague to start the drive, OSU's defense stiffened and held MSU to a 44-yard Rayner field goal, which cut the lead to 17-13.
OSU attempted to run out the clock on the next possession but was forced to punt with just seconds left on the clock, and a personal foul face mask call on the Buckeyes put MSU in field goal range with no time left on the clock. Rayner missed a 54-yard attempt, and Ohio State went into halftime with a 17-13 lead.
Despite the lead, the Buckeye offense struggled in the first half. Ohio State put up just 71 yards on 23 plays, 57 of those rushing on 16 plays. Michigan State produced 203 yards on 44 plays in the first half, 97 on the ground and 106 through the air.
The struggles continued to start the second half. A false start penalty and a holding penalty caused the opening Buckeye drive to stall, forcing OSU to punt. Michigan State took over on their own 10-yard line and also had to punt after four plays, but on the opening play of the following Buckeye drive, Lydell Ross fumbled the ball back to Michigan State, giving the Spartans possession on the Ohio State 42-yard line.
The Spartans had outstanding field position, but Ohio State's defense held strong, limiting Michigan State to a field goal try. Dave Rayner nailed the field goal however, this one from 53 yards to cut the lead to 17-16.
Ohio State moved the ball out to around midfield on the following drive but once again wound up punting to Michigan State. The Spartans failed to convert on their drive as well, but a picture perfect 62-yard punt by Brandon Fields pinned OSU back at their own 1-yard line to start the fourth quarter.
The Buckeyes were able to move the ball out of the danger zone as Smith completed a pass to Santonio Holmes to give Ohio State some breathing room. After moving the ball out past the 30, OSU was forced to punt back to Michigan State, who took over at their own 21.
Michigan State's offense began to click, moving the ball downfield with relative ease against the Buckeye defense. The Spartans seemed set to put the ball in the end zone, but a holding penalty committed inside the Ohio State 20-yard line pushed the Spartans back. OSU limited Michigan State to a 29-yard field goal attempt, which was converted by Raynor to give Michigan State a 19-17 lead with 3:06 on the clock.
Ohio State begain on their own 24-yard line, and lightning would soon strike. After pass completions to Holmes and Dionte Johnson, a slant from Troy Smith to Ted Ginn gave the Buckeyes the lead as Ginn raced downfield for 58 yards and a touchdown. Smith was then successful on a two-point conversion, which was initially called no good, but instant replay judged Smith to have fumbled and recovered in the end zone, giving Ohio State a 25-19 lead.
Michigan State took over at their own 20-yard line with 1:37 left in the game and moved the ball out to around the 40-yard line. But A.J. Hawk stepped up with an outstanding diving interception, holding on to the ball and scraping the ground with his knee before falling out of bounds.
Ohio State took over with less than a minute to play, and Michigan State had three time outs and a chance to get the ball back. Maurice Hall wound up sealing the game for the Buckeyes though as he took a handoff and bounced to the outside and ran 51 yards for the final touchdown. Michigan State's final drive ended in an interception by Brandon Mitchell, giving the Buckeyes the win, 32-19.
The story of the day, of course, was Ted Ginn. Ginn showed the nation that he has arrived as a force to be reckoned with. After the game, Tressel talked quite a bit about Ginn and seemed very happy with his performance.
"He's comfortable with what we're doing," Tressel said. We're getting the ball to him out in the open. When he gets the ball out in the open, he can go."
Tressel said that Ginn does not let his talent go to his head.
"He's been in world-caliber events through his young life," Tressel said. "I don't think he gets too caught up in his excellence. What he wants to do is be one of the guys and work hard and do what he can for the team and work hard and do well in the classroom."
Tressel added that the one thing that impresses him about Ginn is his pass catching ability, which was a pleasant surprise to the staff when he came into practice in August.
"Of course you knew how fast he was, but the way he catches the ball with his hands," Tressel said. "To me that's beyond what you see in a lot of good receivers... This isn't a track guy; this is a football player."
Oddly enough, Ginn more or less predicted he was going to have a big day.
"I told my coach during practice I was going to get three touchdowns," Ginn said. "I was just joking, but it came true.
"It's just a great feeling to be able to help my team."
By and large, the Ohio State offense did experience some struggles again today. Ohio State had 307 yards of total offense.
"I thought the guys on offense were executing fairly well throughout the course of the day," Tressel said. "We have to eliminate those things, but I think we're getting a little better. We have to get a lot better next week."
Tressel did seem happy with Troy Smith's performance on the day, particularly on the final drive.
"I thought Troy did an excellent job," Tressel said. "He made some tough yards. He's the kind of guy that in that huddle the guys believe he's going to take them down the field, and he did."
Tressel also was thrilled to see Maurice Hall score the touchdown that closed the door on Michigan State.
"You had to feel great for Mo Hall," he said. "We were just trying to run out the clock and he slid outside."
Defensively, it was a mixed bag for Ohio State. The Buckeyes gave up 407 total yards, but Ohio State was able to hold MSU to just one touchdown.
"Defensively we kept blasting away, kept on doing a good job, and the whole outfit kept on battling away," Tressel said.
Bobby Carpenter agreed that today's win was a team effort.
"The special teams played well, the defense did what it needed to do, and the offense played great," Carpenter said.
Michigan State was held to 145 yards rushing, which is good when compared to how the Spartans chewed up Michigan on the ground last week as they put up 368 yards against the Wolverines.
"We would like to hold them to less than that," Tressel said. "I think our defense played good, sound, fundamental football, made some plays, and so did Michigan State."
Tressel was extremely impressed with A.J. Hawk's interception, which stopped a potential game-winning drive for Michigan State.
"Incredible pick," Tressel said. "From where I was standing, it looked like he landed on the bench. If he's not an All-American, I don't know what an All-American would look like. He's a leader, he's quiet, he's humble. He's everything you want in a football player."
Two key players on offense did not participate in today's game. One was tailback Antonio Pittman, who did not make the trip. Pittman is listed with a quadriceps injury, and Tressel said Pittman simply was unable to go in today's game.
"We felt going on the road in the Big Ten, we've got to take guys that can go 100 percent," Tressel said. "There were three or four tailbacks on the trip so we chose not to bring him."
The other who did not play was starting offensive lineman Rob Sims.
"Sims was a little dinged up," Tressel said. "You might have to ask Jim Bollman as to was he going to play at all or was he going to hold him out injury-wise."
Perhaps the thing that Tressel was most happy with was the fact that OSU was able to win on the road. In a bit of a surprise, Tressel gave a nod to the presence of TBDBITL in helping create a good environment for the win.
"That was huge," Tressel said of the road win. "We had had a good preseason road win and then we did poorly twice on the road to begin the road schedule. Don't shortchange the energy that our band brings. (They start to play and) all of a sudden you can see our guys' hair stand up on the back of their head.
"The thing that we felt the most is we need to be able to go on the road and win in this league. That's a relief that we've done that once. We need to do that twice."
A.J. Hawk and Ted Ginn were also very happy with a road win.
"Anytime you go on the road and get a win, it's a great day," Hawk said. "We had really struggled the last couple of times we were on the road. But this win here today should give us more confidence going into next week's game against a great Purdue team."
"This is real big," Ginn said. "Everybody said we couldn't go on the road and win, but we clinched the victory, so we can go home happy."
Tressel was in good spirits after the game, but Michigan State head coach John L. Smith was exactly the opposite. He placed the blame for the loss on coaching.
"Not a lot to say, you have to give Ohio State a lot of credit, they're a good football team," Smith said. "(The loss was) just pure coaching. Coaches deserve the credit for the loss for the game, not the kids."
Smith then snapped at a reporter who asked a follow-up question and ended his post-game press conference after just a couple of comments.
On the day, Ohio State had 169 yards rushing on 35 attempts. OSU was led on the ground by Maurice Hall, who had 11 carries for 83 yards and one touchdown. Troy Smith had 13 carries for 34 yards while throwing for 138 on 13-21 with one touchdown. Ted Ginn had 4 catches for 77 yards and one touchdown (58 yards) while Santonio Holmes caught 4 passes for 41 yards. Kyle Turano had a solid day punting the ball as he put up 7 punts for 44.4 yards.
For Michigan State, Damon Dowdell was 29 of 46 for 262 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
Ohio State moves to 6-3 on the year and is now eligible for postseason play. The Buckeyes travel to unranked Purdue next week.
Notes: Ohio State's now 13-2 in November under Jim Tressel. Tressel is now 38-10 as OSU head coach... The Buckeyes are 27-2 under Tressel when they lead at halftime... Three players had their first career start -- Dionte Johnson, Steve Rehring and T.J. Downing. Brandon Mitchell had his first start of the season... Ginn's touchdown return was OSU's fourth return of the season, setting a new single-season team record... Nugent's field goal gives him his fifth field goal of more than 50 yards of the season and is 8 of 9 for his career... Devon Lyons caught his first career catch in the game... A sellout crowd of 72,222 was reported.