Sunday Morning QB: In Ginn OSU Trusts

In our weekly feature, we take a look back at OSU's win over Michigan State. Then, we examine the week that was in the Big Ten and the rest of college football.

Welcome to Sunday Morning Quarterback, a column I intend to stand each week as a quick read on the news, notes and opinion on Ohio State's weekly game as well as the Big Ten and the college football nation at large.

We start with a look at OSU's win over Michigan State:

* The big topic today is the sudden emergence of freshman wide receiver/punt returner Ted Ginn Jr.

If you're an Ohio State fan, you have to be happy that Ted is on your side. With Ginn, all things seem possible. ESPN's SportsCenter did a nice segment on Ginn last night, illustrating that five of his six touchdowns have been 50 yards or more. For the year, he now has six touchdowns in 24 touches. That's quite a percentage.

I think OSU coach Jim Tressel deserves some credit for bringing Ginn along slowly. They could have thrown him to the wolves before he was ready. Now, he's in a position to eat the wolves (maybe literally in 13 days ... ha ha).

The one thought I have now is how he needs to see the ball more often. Michigan sets up Braylon Edwards with a number of flanker screens and plays like that with the idea he will break a tackle, sidestep a tackler or whatever to break one. Maybe -- instead of pounding Lydell Ross and/or Maurice Hall into the line of scrimmage for the 26th straight time -- Ohio State will consider properly setting up Ginn and Santonio Holmes to make big plays. The ability is clearly there and the potential to break one seems to be about 100 times more than on those running plays. (OK, Hall did break one, but it looked like the Spartans all but laid down.)

Ginn's big start -- with a reverse and a punt return for a score -- had OSU beat writers digging for the media guide to check for his records. I was tempted to turn to page 226 of the 346-page guide to start the comparison to Vic Janowicz's fabled 1950 game against Iowa. On that day, Janowicz ran for two touchdowns, threw for four and set a Big Ten record with 10 extra points in an 83-21 win.

(As an aside, have we ever seen a guy like Ginn score on three plays like that without the opponent even getting a hand on him?)

Of course, Ginn leveled out a bit and only ended up with three touchdowns on the day. Ginn became the first OSU player to score three touchdowns in a game since Ross tallied three against Indiana last year.

* Of course, some wonder how Ginn will handle his newfound fame. But Ginn seems to have his head on straight. He has a great support system around him with so many former Cleveland Glenville teammates on the OSU team and his dad, Glenville coach Ted Ginn Sr., not far away. (Congrats go to Coach Ginn and his team for a Division I playoff win over Austintown Fitch.)

But Tressel believes Ginn will be just fine.

"He has been in world class events throughout his life," Tressel said. "He has been in national events. I don't think he will get too caught up in the excitement. He wants to be one of the guys. He wants to work hard for his team and work hard in the classroom. I don't expect him having a problem with it."

Ginn agreed, saying, "It's no big deal about the media. I'm used to it. I've been through it. I'm OK."

When asked if he expects to be hyped he said, "You don't have to. It's not a big deal to me. I'm just going to keep being me and keep playing football."

More importantly, OSU's future opponents will probably keep a close watch on No. 7.

"There's going to be a lot of attention," Ginn said. "They were after me a lot in this game. But you just have to make your plays when you're called upon."

* The call of the day goes to WBNS-AM's Paul Keels. On Ginn's punt return, he was heard to say: "He ran though Michigan State like Mexican water through a first time tourist."

* Since the loss to Iowa, the Buckeyes have talked about a five-game season to end the year. So far so good with three wins in the first three games of that five-game season.

"It feels good because we were serious about that," said cornerback Dustin Fox. "I think today we showed how serious we were about that. We were in a situation where it could have gone either way. But we kept fighting and kept fighting. That showed how important it was to us to win this game and win out."

Of course, this victory made Ohio State bowl eligible at 6-3. As it stands, it looks like Ohio State could still end up anywhere from the Outback Bowl down to the Alamo or Sun. It will probably take a win over Purdue to put OSU in position for the Outback. It seems unlikely that the Alamo, where OSU has never played, will let the Buckeyes go.

"The bowl eligible part ... when 11 games are over, we will get what we deserve," Tressel said.

* Obviously, the Buckeyes cleared a major hurdle with their win at Michigan State. They had lost their last three Big Ten road games, dating to last year's loss at Michigan. And they had to do it in come from behind fashion. This is the kind of win that you have to hope spurs this team to bigger things over the last two games and the bowl game.

The fourth quarter was huge, in particular, for the OSU offense. Through three quarters, the Buckeyes had just 140 yards to their credit. Their one touchdown was Ginn's 17-yard run on a reverse, set up by Ashton Youboty's interception.

But in the fourth quarter, OSU moved the ball off its own goal line with three first downs in one drive. Then, after MSU had taken the lead, Troy Smith made probably the biggest throw of his young career with a perfect slant pass to Ginn.

This is the kind of game that may help Smith cement his place as OSU's starting quarterback for the rest of this year -- and maybe for the next two.

(As another aside, who thought that Justin Zwick's shoulder injury would turn out to be career threatening?)

Hard to believe in the ninth game that 32 points is an OSU season high. The one cautionary note about the offense is the fact the Buckeyes have rarely driven for touchdowns. There seems to be almost an overreliance on the big play. What will happen, pray tell, when OSU's athletes are unable to get off? Hmmm.

* As noted, Purdue is next. Joe Tiller is trying to keep a stiff upper lip, but it's hard when his team has lost four straight games by a combined 10 points. And things could have been much different if Kyle Orton were healthy. Tiller told reporters after the loss at Iowa that Orton feels good when he rehabs his ailing hips in the swimming pool. But when he tries to execute throws and has to turn his body, he still was unable to get it done. It will be interesting to see if his situation improves so he can play next week against OSU.

Now for a look around the Big Ten:

* Illinois snapped a seven-game losing streak and won its first Big Ten game since 2002 with a dramatic 26-22 win over Indiana, which lost its 12th straight Big Ten road game. Jon Beutjer hit Kendrick Jones for the game-winning 2-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left to snatch the win.

* No. 20 Iowa ran its home winning streak to 17, the fourth longest string in the nation, with a 23-21 win over Purdue. Purdue dropped its fourth straight game for the first time since 1993. Drew Tate threw two touchdown passes for Iowa, which forced five turnovers and blocked two field goals.

Brandon Kirsch filled in for the ailing Orton. He threw three TD passes, but he had a fumble and two interceptions in the decisive fourth quarter.

What We Learned: Iowa is for real. The Hawkeyes are having another great year for Kirk Ferentz. They seem destined for at least the Outback Bowl and maybe the Capital One if both Michigan and Wisconsin make the BCS ... Tate just keeps right on humming for the Hawkeyes ... Purdue can't catch a break, although it's hard to rally from down 17 on the road.

* No. 5 Wisconsin continued its cruise toward an unbeaten season and at least the Rose Bowl with a 38-14 pounding of Minnesota. The Badgers regained Paul Bunyon's Axe after last year's loss at Minnesota.

Anthony Davis ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns for the Badgers. QB John Stocco threw for a career-high 297 yards and a touchdown for UW. Wisconsin held the Big Ten's best rushing offense to just 73 yards. The Gophers' top two running backs, Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber III, finished with 57 and 34 yards, respectively. Minnesota had been averaging 266 yards on the ground.

What We Learned: If Wisconsin continues to play offensively like this, the Badgers are at least headed to Pasadena -- maybe Miami ... Stocco joins Tate and Michigan's Chad Henne as three of the Big Ten's best young QBs ... Minnesota desperately needs a win in the regular season finale at home with Iowa.

* Northwestern got its first road victory of the year with a 14-7 decision at Penn State. Noah Herron had 175 yards and a touchdown for NU, which won for the first time in five trips to PSU.

And a glance at headlines nationally

* No. 1 USC contended with the fog and a plucky Oregon State team. But Reggie Bush's 65-yard punt return for a score helped the Trojans pull out a 28-20 win at Corvallis, Ore. Matt Leinhart threw for 205 yards and a touchdown in the win for USC.

* In the Game of the Week, Texas rallied from a school-record 28 points down by scoring 49 straight points in a 56-35 win over No. 19 Oklahoma State. Cedric Benson had 141 yards rushing and five touchdowns for the Longhorns. QB Vincent Young threw for 278 yards and a score and rushed for 123 yards and a TD.

* Also in the Big 12, No. 2 Oklahoma outlasted Texas A&M 42-35. Oklahoma freshman Adrian Peterson ran for 101 yards, his ninth straight 100-yard game. And Iowa State stunned visiting Nebraska 34-27 as Bret Meyer threw for 345 yards and three TDs. Iowa State won for the second time in three years over NU, but just for the third time overall since 1978. ISU and Nebraska are tied for the Big 12 North lead at 3-3.

* Hawaii's Timmy Chang moved past BYU's Ty Detmer into first place on the NCAA career passing yards list. Chang broke the mark of 15,031 set by Detmer from 1988-91 on a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jason Rivers in his team's 34-23 win over Louisiana Tech. Chang threw for 285 yards and four touchdowns, giving him 15,303 yards for his career.

* Virginia Tech stayed on the lead lap in the ACC as Mike Imoh ran for 236 yards and two touchdowns to help the No. 18 Hokies beat North Carolina 27-24. Virginia Tech and Virginia are tied for the ACC lead at 4-1. They may decide the league's BCS bowl bid when they meet Nov. 27 in Blacksburg.

* No. 11 Miami (Fla.) lost a second straight game, falling at home to Clemson 24-17 in overtime. Reggie Merriweather had 117 yards and three touchdowns -- including the 2-yard game winner in OT -- to help the Tigers pull off a huge win. Clemson executed a fake field goal for a key first down to set up the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.

* Kansas State's Darren Sproles ran for 160 yards and two scores, helping the Wildcats beat Missouri 35-24. It was K-State's 12th straight win over Mizzou.

* Washington State's Jerome Harrison carried a school-record 42 times for 247 yards and three touchdowns in the Cougars' 31-29 victory over UCLA.

* No. 7 Utah, sixth in the recent BCS standings, improved to 9-0 for the first time in school history with a 63-31 win over Colorado State. Alex Smith threw for 291 yards and four touchdowns for the Utes. Utah's bid to finish the season in the top six in the BCS standings may be in doubt, even if they beat Wyoming and BYU to end the year.

* Georgia QB David Greene passed for 259 yards and set an NCAA Division I-A record for most wins by a quarterback as No. 8 Georgia routed Kentucky 62-17. Greene is 40-9 as a starter, breaking former Tennessee star Peyton Manning's record. Greene completed 14 of 19 passes, including a touchdown, and ran his streak of consecutive passes without an interception to 206, breaking the Southeastern Conference mark of 200 set by Mississippi's Stewart Patridge in 1997.

Georgia and Auburn will stage a possible SEC title game preview this Saturday at Auburn.

* Notre Dame's roller coaster season continued as the Fighting Irish defeated Tennessee 17-13 in Knoxville. UT lost the second member of its heralded freshman quarterback class when Erik Ainge separated his right shoulder in the first half of the Volunteers' loss. Ainge recovered his own fumble, was sacked and did not return. His injury came a week after Brent Schaeffer broke his collarbone. Junior Rick Clausen, the younger brother of former Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen, replaced Ainge in the second half.

* Cincinnati QB Gino Guidugli threw for a school-record five touchdowns in his team's 52-24 upset of No. 21 Southern Mississippi's 52-24. Cincinnati snapped the Golden Eagles' 13-game league winning streak. The Bearcats beat a ranked team for the first time in four years.

* No. 4 Cal snapped a seven-game losing streak against Oregon with a 28-27 win. The teams combined for 853 yards total offense with Cal's Aaron Rodgers throwing for 275 yards and three TDs.

* Syracuse came up with a big fourth down stop in overtime to defeat Pittsburgh 38-31 at the Carrier Dome.

* It was a wild week in the MAC. On Tuesday, Miami downed Toledo 23-16 to stay on pace in the MAC East. Then, Akron stunned Marshall 31-28 on a final-play 43-yard field goal by Jason Swiger. Akron QB Charlie Frye threw for three TDs in the Zips' win at the Rubber Bowl, while Stan Hill threw for 439 yards and three TDs for the Herd. Miami, Akron and Marshall are tied for the East Division lead at 5-1.

Finally, Eastern Michigan pulled out a wild four overtime 61-58 win over Central Michigan. Andrew Wellock's 24-yard field goal was the winning points in a game played at Detroit's Ford Field.

* No. 14 Louisville outlasted Memphis 56-49 on Eric Shelton's 1-yard TD run with 37 seconds left. Shelton had 136 yards and four TDs for the Cardinals. The teams combined for 63 first downs and 1,202 yards total offense.

* Heisman Watch: This field is wide open with Oklahoma's Jason White (quietly becoming a front runner again) and Adrian Peterson, Michigan's Braylon Edwards (he didn't even play and I'm throwing him in for the first time), USC's Matt Leinhart, Auburn's Jason Campbell, Cal's Aaron Rodgers and maybe even Utah's Alex Smith making my list. I promise to rate them next week.

* My new top 15: USC, Oklahoma, Auburn, Wisconsin, Georgia, California, Michigan, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Florida State, Boise State, Virginia, Louisville, Virginia Tech.

* Games to watch next week: Toledo-Northern Illinois (Tuesday), Florida State-N.C. State (Thursday), Nebraska-Oklahoma, Northwestern-Michigan, Boston College-West Virginia, Iowa-Minnesota, Georgia-Auburn, Miami (Fla.)-Virginia.

We will wrap up each week with a look at how OSU's opponents fared and check out who they face next week.

Date (Time, TV), Opponent (Record), This Week's Result, Next Week's Game

Sept. 4, Cincinnati (5-4), beat Southern Miss 52-24, Nov. 6; vs. South Florida, Nov. 20.

Sept. 11, Marshall (5-4), lost to Akron 31-28, Nov. 5; at Bowling Green, Nov. 15.

Sept. 18, at N.C. State (4-5), lost to Georgia Tech 24-14, Nov. 6; vs. Florida State, Nov. 11.

Sept. 25, idle

Oct. 2, at Northwestern (5-4), beat Penn State 14-7, Nov. 6; at Michigan, Nov. 13.

Oct. 9, Wisconsin (9-0), beat Minnesota 38-14, Nov. 6; at Michigan State, Nov. 13.

Oct. 16, at Iowa (7-2), beat Purdue 23-21, Nov. 6; at Minnesota, Nov. 13.

Oct. 23, Indiana (3-6), lost to Illinois 26-24, Nov. 6; vs. Penn State, Nov. 13.

Oct. 30, Penn State (2-6), lost to Northwestern 14-7, Nov. 6; at Indiana, Nov. 13.

Nov. 6, at Michigan State (4-5), lost to Ohio State 32-19, Nov. 6; vs. Wisconsin, Nov. 13.

Nov. 13 (3:30 p.m., ESPN), Purdue (5-4), lost to Iowa 23-21, Nov. 6; vs. Ohio State, Nov. 13.

Nov. 20 (1 p.m., ABC), Michigan (8-1), idle, Nov. 6; at Northwestern, Nov. 13.

Big Ten Standings

Team (Overall, Big Ten)

Wisconsin (9-0, 6-0)

Michigan (8-1, 6-0)

Iowa (7-2, 5-1)

Northwestern (5-4, 4-2)

Ohio State (6-3, 3-3)

Michigan State (4-5, 3-3)

Minnesota (6-4, 3-4)

Purdue (5-4, 2-4)

Indiana (3-6, 1-5)

Illinois (3-7, 1-6)

Penn State (2-7, 0-6)

Nov. 6 Results

Ohio State 32, Michigan State 19

Northwestern 14, Penn State 7

Illinois 26, Indiana 24

Wisconsin 38, Minnesota 14

Iowa 23, Purdue 21

Nov. 13 Schedule

Northwestern at Michigan, noon (ABC)

Iowa at Minnesota, noon (ESPN)

Penn State at Indiana, noon (ESPN-Plus)

Wisconsin at Michigan State, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

Ohio State at Purdue, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)


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