Top-Ranked Ohio State Throttles Indiana 44-3

Top-ranked Ohio State moved to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in Big Ten play with a 44-3 win over visiting Indiana on Saturday. Troy Smith threw for 220 yards and four touchdowns and Ted Ginn Jr. caught a TD pass and also threw one on an end around in the win. Click this free link for more. (NOTE: This story updated at 5 p.m. with notes and quotes.)

Top-ranked Ohio State continued its impressive march through Big Ten competition with a stifling 44-3 win over visiting Indiana before 105,267 on a picture perfect Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

The Buckeyes shrugged off a slow start by exploding for 21 second quarter points and never looked back. OSU amassed 540 yards total offense -- an equal 270 rushing and passing.

"We didn't start out great the first two or three minutes of the game, but I thought after that we did everything we had to do to have a decisive victory and the guys made plays," said OSU coach Jim Tressel. "I feel like we took one more step and we have to get much, much better, but that's the fun of it."

Quarterback Troy Smith matched his career high with four touchdown passes. Smith, now 21-2 as OSU's starting quarterback, was 15 of 23 passing for 220 yards before leaving at the early in the fourth quarter.

"I think it's just having an understanding of being consistent and staying the course," Smith said. "As we go along, it gets harder and harder, but consistency is the key. It's hard getting up every day and doing things the right way and I just want to take my hat off to my offensive line because without them, none of this goes on. The play doesn't get ran the whole way around and the receivers make plays on the ball. You know, get those guys the ball and big things will happen."

Tailback Antonio Pittman added 105 yards on 15 carries. Chris Wells added 10 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Ted Ginn Jr. caught five passes for 72 yards and one touchdown and Ginn also threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Rory Nicol on a reverse. Anthony Gonzalez had four catches for 69 yards and a score, while Nicol's two catches for 61 yards each resulted in touchdowns.

Equally as impressive was the Ohio State defense, which slammed the door shut on Indiana. The Buckeyes held IU to 165 yards total offense. The Hoosiers netted just 7 yards on 28 rushing attempts.

Cornerback Antonio Smith had perhaps his biggest day as a Buckeye with 12 tackles, four for losses, a sack and a fumble forced.

"I sum it up as a great day for our defensive unit," said Smith, a former walk-on from nearby Columbus Beechcroft. "I thought we played extremely hard. They had a great quarterback, the young freshman who had one some big games for them. They were on a high and we knew they were going to come in here fired up. But we stopped the run and kept them from getting points on the scoreboard."

Defensive end Jay Richardson added two sacks, while corners Andre Amos and Malcolm Jenkins each had interceptions.

The Buckeyes never let IU get much going on the ground and they harassed quarterbacks Kellen Lewis and Blake Powers. Lewis was 15 of 28 passing for 106 yards and was sacked four times. Powers relieved late and completed 5 of 7 passes for 52 yards, but he had IU's two interceptions.

Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) extended its nation's best winning streak to 15 games, while Indiana (4-4, 2-2) saw its two-game winning streak snapped.

The Buckeyes continued their mastery of Indiana, winning for the 37th time in the last 39 meetings. OSU has now won 14 straight in the series since back-to-back losses in 1987-88.

"Today we were out-coached and out-played by a team, that on this day, was No. 1," said Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner. "The game is won up front and we did not do well on either side of the ball up front. Again, we gave up too many big plays and that has to be fixed. Defensively, they didn't allow us to do the things we've been able to do off and on for the past two weeks."

Indiana opened the scoring on its second possession. IU's Tracy Porter returned a punt 34 yards to the Ohio State 15-yard line. The Hoosiers never moved the ball inch before settling for Austin Starr's 34-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 7:59 left in the first quarter.

Ohio State finally got on the board late in the first quarter, going 87 yards in a quick seven plays. Smith had misfired on his first four pass attempts of the game before hitting Pittman for a 22-yard gain on a screen pass.

"Obviously my staff understood, something short, something simple would have to get the offense going, not just myself," Smith said of the screen call. "That play got the offense going and got us going on the scoring drive. I guess you would have to say the coaches are in that position for a reason and they just made a good call."

Smith then attempted an option to the right, but when the Hoosiers had that bottled up he reversed field and rolled for 29 yards down to the IU 32.

"One of the things I saw, first off, was a mass of bodies towards the middle of the field where I tried to cut it up the first time," Smith said. "My left tackle did a good job of securing the left edge back side and he just gave me a chance to get around the other way, and I had been being teased the whole week about not being able to pull away from a defender, so that was one of my reasons for really, really bearing down and trying to get around that edge."

After two running plays with Pittman netted 9 yards, OSU faced a third-and-1 predicament. Smith ran a play fake and threw down the middle to a wide open Nicol for the 23-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 2:55 left in the first quarter.

"It's a short-yardage play," Nicol said. "A lot of times we'll run the iso there. That's a play we have in our repertoire. The safety bit down and I was wide open down the seam."

On the ensuing kickoff, IU's Marcus Thigpen brought the ball out to the OSU 22, where OSU's Brian Hartline smacked him to the ground. The hit seemed to liven up the crowd and Thigpen, IU's second leading rusher and a dangerous return man with three touchdowns this year, did not return.

"People were talking about that hit and getting things going and providing a little bit of a spark," Hartline said. "Thigpen had a big bulls-eye on his chest all week. We talked about it in meetings what he had done. We wanted to make a statement that we are a complete team and we don't slack off on special teams."

The Buckeyes tacked on their next score after a four-play, 53-yard march. Wells got it started with a 10-yard gain. Smith then found Ginn for 7 yards. Wells then had a 5-yard gain. With a first down at the IU 31, Smith made a play fake and rolled to his left. He was flushed by IU's Keith Burrus but was able to set up and heave the ball into the end zone. Ginn came free in front of IU's Porter for the 31-yard touchdown and a 14-3 lead with 14:52 left in the first half.

"Anytime you're in a situation where you have to step up and throw or step up and go, we're always taught to square our hips and square our shoulders to deliver the ball," Smith said. "In that case, it really took me to get squared and get my fundamentals right in every aspect of throwing that ball, because if I didn't, who knows where that ball would have gone."

Ohio State pressed ahead 21-3 with a nine-play, 78-yard scoring possession. Pittman had runs of 12 and 14 yards to get it started. Smith found Gonzalez for a 24-yard grab as well. Smith's 13-yard crossing pass to Ginn gave the Buckeyes a first down at the 9. Three plays later, Smith threw a sideline pass complete to Gonzalez for a 5-yard touchdown and the 21-3 lead with 6:32 left in the first half.

"They were in man," said Gonzalez, who made his sixth touchdown grab of the year. "There was no deep safety. As I was running in motion, I saw the guy trailing me. A lot of teams will pass it off and switch. But on that one, I think it just got screwed up."

The Buckeyes extended their lead to 28-3 just before the intermission. This drive took three plays and lasted 49 yards. Smith opened it with a 21-yard pass to Brian Robiskie. IU was penalized for a face mask, moving the ball to the 14. A 13-yard pass down the sideline to Robiskie put the ball at the 1, where Smith hit tight end Jake Ballard for the touchdown and a 28-3 lead with just 20 seconds left in the half.

"It was awesome," Ballard said of his first career score. "I don't know how to explain it. As soon as I caught it, I wanted to share it with all of my teammates."

Tressel said it was a no-brainer to go for another first-half score, particularly after the face mask penalty put OSU in the red zone with plenty of time left.

"It's all a matter of where you get field position and we happened to have good field position," the coach said. "And we always say at the end of halves, especially when we're going to get the ball to start the second half, like we were this time, we'll be aggressive if we have good field position, but we want to be smart. We caught the one ball and got the face mask. And all of a sudden now we're down in there.

"And again, all you had to do was watch Indiana, they're down 23-7 to Ball State, they win; they're down 25-7 to Illinois, they win; they're down 21-7 to Iowa, they win. So what should make you think you shouldn't get as many points as you can to win? So that's why you start off with solid field position, hit the nice post route to Robiskie, got the add-on, now we're down there knocking at the door."

The lead went to 35-3 midway through the third quarter. It was set up by Smith's 21-yard toss to Gonzalez. On first down at the Indiana 38, Smith flipped the ball back to Ginn on an end around. Ginn, who played some quarterback in high school, threw deep right to Nicol. An IU defender slipped on the play, leaving Nicol wide open to complete the 38-yard touchdown and push the lead to 35-3 with 9:04 left in the third quarter.

"I don't even know if anybody else is in that route but me," Nicol said. "From what I understand, the ball comes to me. That linebacker covered me. I don't know what happened to him. I caught the ball and scored. Ted threw a great ball and I caught it."

Aaron Pettrey drilled a career-long 51-yard field goal for a 38-3 lead with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.

"It felt real good," Pettrey said. "I hit the ball well. It was a good snap and a good hold. It probably would have gone from 60 to 63."

Wells then added a 12-yard touchdown run for a 44-3 lead – Pettrey's PAT kick was no good – with 7:04 left in the game.

"It felt great to get into the end zone," said Wells, who notched his third touchdown of the year. "I was so happy to get in there at the ‘Shoe again."

Also Notable

* OSU's 15-game winning streak is its third longest in school history. The Buckeyes won 22 straight games between the 1967-69 seasons and 19 straight between 2002-03.

* The 2006 Buckeyes are the 15th team in school history to open a season 8-0 and first since the 2002 national championship year.

* For Smith, this marked his 12th career game with at least two touchdown passes. It was also the 12th time in his career and fifth time this year he has hit the 200-yard mark in passing.

He now has 21 touchdowns against two interceptions this year and 45 touchdowns in his career (fourth-best in OSU annals).

* Pittman reached the 100-yard plateau for the fifth time this season and the 13th time in his career.

* In his OSU career, Ginn has now rushed for a touchdown, caught 13 TD passes, returned a kick for a touchdown, brought back six punts for scores and thrown a TD pass.

* Amos' interception was the first of his career, while Jenkins' was his third of the season.

* Ohio State leads the all-time series with Indiana 65-12-5, including 42-10-4 in Columbus.

* OSU's record as the nation's No. 1 team is now 59-8-1.

* In the records department under Tressel, Ohio State is now 58-13 overall, 36-4 at home and 34-10 in Big Ten games. The Buckeyes are also 43-3 under Tressel with a halftime lead and 46-3 when they lead after three quarters.

* The Buckeyes have now won nine straight home games and 31 of their last 33 home outings.

* The attendance figure is the fifth largest in Ohio Stadium history.

* Former OSU All-American punter Tom Tupa (1984-87) served as the honorary captain.

* Ohio State stays home to host Minnesota next Saturday. That game, set for a 3:30 p.m. start, will be televised regionally by ABC.

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