Smith remains arguably the Heisman Trophy front runner after leading the top-ranked Buckeyes to their sixth win of the season, this one a 35-7 pasting of the visiting Falcons. Smith completed 17 of 20 passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns and also carried seven times for 54 yards for the Buckeyes.
"Troy did a good job of making decisions today," said OSU coach Jim Tressel. "He stepped up when he had to. He escaped when we had some breakdowns, and put the ball where it needed to be. I thought he had a very solid day."
Here were some of Smith's notables as he improved to 19-2 as OSU's starting quarterback:
* His completion percentage or 85 percent ranks third all-time at Ohio State for completion percentage in a game. William Mrukowski completed 10-of-11 tries (.909) against UCLA in a 1961 meeting to top the list. Stanley Jackson's 13-for-15 (.867) game vs. Indiana in 1997 rates second all-time.
* Smith now has 15 touchdowns against two interceptions in six games this year. He has a least one TD pass in 12 of his last 13 games and now has 10 career games with multiple touchdown passes. In his last two games, Smith has tossed seven touchdowns, including the four against Iowa last week. Smith has at least two TD passes in five of six games this season. He also had three TD throws earlier this season against Northern Illinois.
* With his three TD throws Saturday, Smith now has 39 career touchdown passes and surpassed former Buckeye Jim Karsatos (36 TDs from 1983-86) for fifth place and Greg Frey (37 TDs from 1987-90) for fourth all-time. With one more TD completion, Smith would become just the fourth Buckeye all-time to reach 40 career touchdown passes. Art Schlichter (50 from 1978-81), Joe Germaine (56 from 1996-98) and Bobby Hoying (57 from 1992-95) all had 50 or more TD passes in their OSU career.
With Smith at the controls, the Buckeyes scored on three of their first four possessions. He opened the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rory Nicol. Then, after tailback Antonio Pittman tallied a couple of touchdown runs for a 21-0 halftime lead, Smith hit Ray Small for an 11-yard score and found Ted Ginn Jr. for a 57-yard bomb to cap the scoring.
"I always think there is tons of room for improvement," Smith said after OSU amassed 387 yards against the Falcons. "The protection can be better, the route running can be better, my drop depth can be better, the receivers catching can be better – the list goes on and on. As an offense, I just feel we have to get better every day."
One of the highlights for Smith's day was his 34-yard run late in the first quarter. Penalties had backed OSU up into a third-and-25 predicament. He rolled to his right, eluded a defender, rolled back left, eluded another defender and took off again to his right to convert the first down and set up one of Pittman's touchdown runs.
The run is the longest for Smith this season and his longest rush since a 46-yard gain against Michigan on Nov. 20, 2004.
"It felt all right running like that," Smith said. "I haven't run like that in a long time, and I had a lot of guys joking with me when I got to the sideline. But stepping up and trying to make a play and keeping the drive going, that's what playing football here is all about, regardless if it's third-and-extra long or third-and-short. Anytime you get a chance to make a play for your team to keep us in it so that we can get touchdowns, that's our focus.
"A lot of times, football for us is so vanilla. It's line up, bust one and high five. But when you get a chance to incite the crowd and do some things that you're not supposed to do and they work, that's cool."
BG coach Gregg Brandon could only marvel at Smith, who recovered from a bad snap to reel off one of the game's biggest plays.
"The kid drops the ball and then runs forever," Brandon said. "It's like Play Station. Those kids (Smith and Ginn) are phenomenal and No. 11 (Anthony Gonzalez) is no slouch either."
Bowling Green drove for a touchdown to open the second half, cutting the lead to 21-7. The OSU offense finally got on the field with 6:11 left in the third quarter, and Smith said there was only one thing they could do.
"They scored and so we had to score," he said. "You can't take anything away from the guys over there. They played hard. They put together a great drive."
Smith engineered the 14-play, 70-yard march by completing 5 of 6 passes. He capped it with his screen pass to Small, which the freshman took into the end zone for his first career score.
"Anytime a youngster gets a chance to make a play, gets an opportunity to even be in a game, I think it's a credit to him," Smith said. "Watching him get into the end zone and him expressing himself earlier in the week and telling me how much he wanted to get in the end zone was -- it shows his drive and love for the game. I think the staff made a good decision putting him in the game and the line gave me time up front and he made a great play on the ball."
But Smith was not done. He came back moments later and hooked up with Ginn on their 57-yard bomb, hitting the speedster in stride at the BG 5-yard line.
"The play call was just that, try to get a deep strike and try to get something going, try to get something generated," Smith said. "The guys up front did a great job with protection because, with that route, it took a while for it to get developed. They did a great job with stopping the defense and I just try my best to get the ball out there to him because he's so talented and gifted with so much speed. You try to get it to him in stride so he doesn't have to stop and give a defensive back a chance to break on the ball."
Smith said it was a point of emphasis this week to work on the deep ball.
"It was cool," he said. "That's always something we need to get better at. In fact, I was challenged earlier in the week to perfect the deep ball. I know that challenge is still out there every week that we play. I have to get better with every pass that I throw."
When asked who issued the challenge, Smith said, "I can't release any team-oriented things like that, but it was a defensive back who used to play here who played on that 1998 team. He is a great person and an inspiring leader who has helped us so far. All the respect in the world goes to Ahmed Plummer."
Tressel was glad to see the Buckeyes revert to their big play capability.
"Anytime that you can strike through the air from out, that's good," Tressel said. "I was especially pleased with the last one because we had had a couple home run opportunities in the last couple games and didn't connect. We need people to know that we're going to go deep, and Troy threw the ball vertically and Teddy ran a good route, and people need to know that that's part of who we are and who we need to be."
That catch was one of a career-high 10 for Ginn, Smith's longtime running mate and former Cleveland Glenville teammate.
"In certain ways, there is always something special when you get to play with a childhood friend like that at this kind of level," Smith said. "This is the best and the top level of college football, playing for the best fans and the best city. It is a special thing, but I never want to take anything away from the other guys around me because they are friends as well."
Ginn had been averaging under five catches a game coming into the BG game as defenses schemed against him, leaving Gonzalez and Brian Robiskie, among others, open. But Smith said Ginn did not pout about his lack of action.
"Ted has been the kind of teammate since youth that it has never been about him," Smith said. "He would rather jump up and slap fives with somebody else before he gives himself all the credit. Don't get me wrong, he's going to work harder than the other guy. He's always been a team-oriented guy, and I think those guys always end up first.
"That is a direct correlation to what we were taught growing up and hopefully that continues."
Smith was hobbled a bit and left for the final series of the first half.
"I'm OK," he maintained. "Those are the ills of football. Those are the nicks and cuts. My wrist was hurting."
Smith connected on his first eight passes against Bowling Green. His three incompletions were easy to remember as well. He just missed connecting with Anthony Gonzalez on a bomb. Gonzalez caught the 36-yard pass as he was going out of the back of the end zone and it was ruled incomplete. He then had a deep out pass to Brian Robiskie go just wide incomplete. He had one other pass to Roy Hall go off his hands incomplete. (Another incompletion to Ginn was negated by a BG roughing the passer penalty.)
"Troy is a very accurate passer," Nicol said. "He can roll right and throw the ball 70 yards in the field to the left side. The thing with Troy is he can make any throw. He's a good passer. I'm not surprised about it. He's that accurate every day. That is what is so great about Troy."