By design and by necessity, Ginn played six snaps at quarterback. He ended up carrying the ball eight times for 40 yards and a touchdown and catching six passes for 78 yards as the Buckeyes defeated the Cowboys 33-7.
Ginn capped his remarkable freshman season at OSU by being named as the Alamo Bowl's offensive most valuable player.
"It was great, but I know tomorrow it will be all over and I'll have to get back into the weight room and do it all over again," Ginn said in his usual soft-spoken style.
OSU coach Jim Tressel made the decision to work Ginn at quarterback after Smith was ruled out of the game. The coach wanted to avoid using Todd Boeckman, a freshman who was redshirting and had not played all year. As it turned out, the Buckeyes grabbed a quick 7-0 lead and never trailed, making the decision to plug the multitalented Ginn in at quarterback that much easier.
"We planned on playing Ted at quarterback," Tressel said. "We didn't know when it would be. I wasn't sure when we might get to it. We had rehearsed seven or eight plays, nothing too fancy. We had one pass play called, but he only had 10 guys on the field and we had to call a timeout. Teddy is a special guy."
Ginn added, "All week, we practiced with me at quarterback. It was a great opportunity for me to have."
That opportunity came around very quickly against Oklahoma State. On Ohio State's second series, Zwick pulled up lame after tweaking his left hamstring. The Buckeyes didn't even have to take a timeout to discuss their next move. Ginn simply took over the huddle and, as the OSU fans in the crowd let out a nice roar, he took his first snap at quarterback and promptly rolled around the right side on a 2-yard gain on a sweep.
"The first thing I said was `Don't do this to me Justin. I can't do a whole game (at quarterback).' But I knew I still had to play and do whatever we needed," Ginn said.
"When he got hurt, the coaches didn't really say anything. We had a redshirt freshman quarterback and we didn't want him to lose his redshirt on one game. I knew I had to get in there."
Ginn tallied his eighth touchdown of the season midway through the third quarter, giving OSU a commanding 30-0 lead. With the Buckeyes facing second-and-goal at the Cowboys' 5-yard line, Ginn lined up in the shotgun. He took the snap and went two steps to his right before cutting back through an opening over the left side and scoring untouched.
"I was just trying to make something out of nothing," Ginn said. "It was called one way, but we got hit with a blitz and I had to head back to the left and make sure something happened."
Beyond the touchdown, Ginn delivered three of the most impressive individual efforts that will be seen all bowl season.
Early in the game, he caught a pass in the left flat. He sidestepped the first defender, but when he saw there was nowhere to go down the left sideline he used his speed to outrun the Oklahoma State defense clear across the field to the right sideline. He turned the corner and rolled for a 42-yard gain before a defender succeeded in bumping him out of bounds.
In the second half, Ginn rolled for a nifty 28-yard gain on a reverse. That play came on the nine-play, 94-yard drive capped by his own touchdown run.
And, finally, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Ginn again dazzled the crowd with his derring do. He attempted a run to the right, but reversed field and made a number of defenders miss before coming back across the field to the right. The play was a 5-yard loss, but was still something to behold because of Ginn's escapability.
"I just think it's more awareness and knowing where guys are at," Ginn said. "Then you have to make a move to get upfield."
He added, "That's just something I do. I just try to make plays."
Ginn said it was hard to play without his close friend and former Cleveland Glenville teammate Smith. But he praised Zwick for stepping up in Smith's absence.
"The coaches preach to us that no matter what is going on we have to play hard and we did that tonight," Ginn said. "Justin played great tonight. This showed that no matter who's in we can still win."
Ginn said Zwick's teammates did a good job of keeping him in the fold, even as it seemed the quarterback job had become Smith's to lose.
"We just had to keep him up and say, `You're one play away,' " Ginn said. "Then, when he got in there he played hard and knew his responsibilities."
As the 2004 season wound down, Ginn said he was excited about the prospects for next season when as many as 17 starters will return.
"I think we have the potential to have a great team," Ginn said. "We have a lot of guys coming back. We know what we've got to do to get to the next level."
Ginn's Final Numbers
For the year, Ginn ended up with:
* 25 catches for 359 yards (14.4 average) and two touchdowns.
* 13 rushes for 113 yards (8.7 average) and two touchdowns.
* 15 punt returns for 384 yards (25.6 average) and four touchdowns.
* Two kick returns for 40 yards (20.0 average).