Sunday Morning QB: A Red-Letter Day

We are back with a complete look at the weekend that was, including notes on Ohio State's win over Indiana as well as developments in Big Ten football and in the college football world at-large. Click here for more.

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 44-3 win over Indiana:

* It was somewhat of a family week for me. Earlier in the week, I enjoyed spending time at the 100th anniversary edition of the Pumpkin Show in my hometown of Circleville. The OSU marching band made an appearance and marched in a parade this past Thursday night.

The scene was surreal as tens of thousands of people stood five and six deep in a steady rain to catch a glimpse of what truly is The Best Damn Band in the Land. I have to say it was really neat watching the band and cheerleaders march down the streets of my hometown. They were greeted by enthusiastic cheers the whole way and even stayed after the parade to play a half-hour concert. It was quite a night and set the stage, at least for me, to enjoy Saturday's game in the company of my wife, Amy, and three children.

We were able to wrangle tickets together for the Indiana game. We got parked early enough to attend the Skull Session in St. John Arena. That experience tells me it is probably good to be there almost 2-1/2 hours before the game to get a good seat.

I then made my usual pregame rounds – WBNS-AM with Bruce Hooley and Joe Montgomery, WSYX-TV with Clay Hall and Rob Harley and WEWS-TV in Cleveland with Chris Miller – before heading to the stands.

It was the second game for our 7-year-old twins, Carter and Dolen, and the first game for our 4-year-old daughter, Lindey. They made it all the way through to the end and even enjoyed the postgame band show.

I knew the day was complete at halftime when OSU played a clip of Woody Hayes' commencement address in 1986. This was during the presentation of the Pay Forward Society members. (Congratulations to our friends from Huntington National Bank, as well as the Phipps family, the McCorkle family and the Schottenstein family/Value City Stores for their recognition of athletic gifts in excess of $5 million.)

I have to tell you there is something special hearing the stadium come to a complete stop to watch Hayes deliver that famed address through the magic of videotape.

My daughter turned to me and said, "Daddy, who is that man?"

I said, "That's Woody Hayes, sweetheart. He was a great man."

For those of you who weren't at Ohio Stadium Saturday – or did not graduate from OSU in 1986 to hear that speech the first time – here are excerpts from this Hayes speech that will still be relevant, I believe, 5,000 years from now.

"I would like to start with something I have used in almost every speech, and this is, ‘paying forward,' " Hayes said. "And that is the thing that you folks can do with your great education for the rest of your life.

"Try to take that attitude toward life, that you're going to pay forward. So seldom can we pay back because those who helped most -- your parents and other people -- will be gone, but you'll find that you do want to pay.

"Emerson had something to say about that: ‘You can pay back only seldom.' But he said, ‘You can always pay forward, and you must pay line for line, deed for deed, and cent for cent.' He said, ‘Beware of too much good accumulating in your palm or it will fast corrupt.' That was Emerson's attitude, and no one put it better than he did."

* Anthony Gonzalez strikes me as the kind of guy who will do a lot of paying forward in his time. He also did some paying back on Saturday.

On Friday, Gonzalez paid a visit to an ailing woman with cancer. As he turned to leave, Martha Shotz of Reynoldsburg, asked Gonzalez to score a touchdown for her against Indiana.

Gonzalez admitted it was a heavy burden he carried with him into the game. Thankfully, he came through with his 5-yard touchdown grab from Troy Smith in the second quarter.

"I visited with her yesterday at her house in Reynoldsburg," Gonzalez said. "She said, ‘If there's one thing you can do, you have to score a touchdown for me tomorrow.' She's ill. She has cancer. She was a teacher. Coach Todd Alliss took me over there.

"I told her, ‘I'm terrible about guarantees, but I'll do everything in my power to make that happen for you.' To be honest, that was something I was thinking about before the game, ‘Man, I've really got to score.'

"It was a relief to get in there for her. She is going through a tough time. She really is. But she is in great spirits, though."

Gonzalez said the visit helped him put things into perspective.

"That was pretty humbling in and of itself," he said. "I'm really not good with people telling me I'm that good or stuff like that. But to have her request that I came over. To be able to do that, that has helped me. I guess we are pretty important to people around this city and around this country."

* Another OSU wide receiver who paid off some debts on Saturday was redshirt freshman Brian Hartline. Hartline did not catch a pass, but he heard his name called when he smacked IU star kick returner Marcus Thigpen on a first-quarter kick return. Thigpen never carried the ball or returned a kick after that.

The team presents the Jack Tatum Hit of the Week award each week. They did not give it to Hartline for his block of two Iowa defenders on Gonzalez's amazing catch-and-run touchdown at Iowa. If he doesn't get it this week for that hit – that seemed to wake up a sleeping stadium – then he never will.

"I think I'm going to speak on behalf of the (receivers), we take a lot of hits from the defense and I know it was uplifting from the guys on the sideline for Hartline to come down and deliver a blow because a lot of times they take them and they absorb them and he got a chance to really let out on a defender, and it's a great," Smith said.

"It's a tremendous thing for Hartline to do something like that, because his job, thus far, is pretty much hustle plays all the time. You see him flying around the field all the time and it's a great credit to what kind of guy he is."

Hartline added, "It felt good to go out there and deliver some hits. Most of the time I have to take them as a wide out but today I didn't get blocked much on special teams and was able to make some plays."

* The OSU offense did sputter a bit out of the gate with just 9 net yards on the first two series. Of course, the Buckeyes scored on four of their next five possessions to win the game going away. The final yardage total of 540 – 270 rushing and 270 passing – was a season high as was the 44-point output.

"We didn't start real well," offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said. "We didn't come out of the gate as hot as we would have liked. But other than that, I think it was a good win. I think we got a little bit better."

There had been talk of the run game suffering in recent weeks. However, in eight games nobody has yet figured out how to play within 17 points of OSU. And I think the run numbers are skewed by how well Smith has thrown the ball (why run it when you don't need to?) and the team's stellar play on defense and special teams (OSU's offense typically gets great field position, meaning there are few 80- and 90-yard drives).

Antonio Pittman got back on track with 105 yards on 16 carries, while Chris Wells had 65 yards on 10 carries, Maurice Wells had 62 yards on nine totes and Smith added 38 yards on four attempts.

It helped that IU's run defense was the Big Ten's worst, but the Buckeyes probably still needed a day to show themselves and their opponents how well they can run the ball when they get going.

"That was great," Chris Wells said. "It was an overall great game and we came out here today ready to play and have fun. We knew all week we would have to play hard and that's what we did today. The offensive line did a great job."

* It was a reasonably good day for kicker Aaron Pettrey. He nailed a career-long 51-yard field goal to push his season mark to 6 of 9. Pettrey missed a late PAT kick, his first miss of the year there after making 35 straight.

Pettrey, who won the kicking battle with Ryan Pretorius before the season, sometimes feels like the Maytag repair man – he is ready but is rarely needed. He said he wouldn't mind a chance to make a kick that helps decide a game sometime.

"I've been waiting for that moment and I would like to have it," Pettrey said. "But our offense is too good right now. I don't know if that moment is going to come this year or not. I'd like to have it to have a chance to get the team behind me a little bit."

* The Ohio State defense was center stage once again on Saturday, limiting Indiana to one field goal and just 165 yards total offense. That included a net 7 yards rushing on 28 attempts. That is the fewest yards allowed on the ground since the Buckeyes limited Michigan State to 5 yards in a 2003 win.

OSU is now in the top 20 nationally in the four main defensive categories:

First in scoring defense (8.3 points per game), 20th in rushing defense (97.3 yards per game), 13th in passing efficiency defense (101.7 points) and 15th in total defense (270.9 yards per game).

Offensive tackle Kirk Barton credited the defensive staff for rebuilding that unit.

"They easily have the most underrated coaching staff in the country," Barton said. "Everybody knows (former Buckeye) Bo Pelini (at LSU) and all of these other big-name coaches. But Coach Heacock, Coach Fickell, Coach Haynes and Coach Beckman, look at what they did with two returning starters. They are unbelievable.

"They come up with these schemes and these blitzes. They give me headaches all week. It's worth it because you watch it against other offenses and they get the headache instead of me."

Barton said he has grown accustomed to coming off the field, having enough time to grab a drink and sit down – only to head right back out after a three-and-out.

"When the defense gives up a first down sometimes, it surprises me," he said. "But this is a fun team to be a part of."

* Senior cornerback Antonio Smith is known to his teammates as Yao Ming, a nickname former assistant Mel Tucker gave him after Smith lit his teammates up in a team basketball event.

The 5-9, 195-pound Smith may not be large in stature. But against Indiana, he played about as big as his 7-5 namesake, Yao.

Smith tallied a career-best 12 tackles with four tackles-for-loss, a sack and a fumble forced. His 11 solo tackles were a team season high. This former walk-on continues to amaze his teammates.

"Tone played very well today," said Ted Ginn Jr. "He learned a lot from Donte Whitner. He came out and played hard and played tough. He always does what he is supposed to do."

David Patterson added, "I love watching him play. You love to see a guy like him succeed."

* Another senior enjoying his career-best season – and as with most Jim Tressel teams this list is a long one – is defensive end Jay Richardson. He notched a pair of sacks against Indiana.

"I don't know if the stars were just lined up right or what, but I was just out there having fun," said Richardson, who had one sack coming in. "We have a lot of young guys on this team and I think the older guys just want to lead them by example.

"I think we're getting better as a defense every week. I can see myself getting better. I'm practicing harder and playing better because of it."

On one of Richardson's sacks, he and defensive tackle Joel Penton executed a perfect stunt with Richardson circling inside and swarming IU's Kellen Lewis easily. On the other, the IU offensive line tackled defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock, opening an alley for Richardson to make the sack.

"The beautiful thing about that is last week they tackled me and he got away with the sacks," Richardson said. "I told him, ‘Quinn, you need to take one for me and let me get one.' Quinn is probably the best defensive tackle in the country. To have a guy that caliber playing next to you, they have to account for him.

"That allows little guys like me to get in there and make a play," said Richardson, who is anything but little at 6-6, 276 pounds.

Richardson said he dedicated the game to Patterson, OSU's starting defensive tackle who missed his second straight game after suffering a knee injury against Bowling Green.

"Seeing Dave on the sideline, I felt bad for him because he is a senior like I am," he said. "I told the guys, ‘Let's pick it up today and really perform well.' I tried to up my intensity and make some plays because he was out."

* Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner had been to Ohio Stadium before as he brought Miami (Ohio) in to face the Buckeyes in 2000. But with the students in attendance and this being a Big Ten game, Hoeppner gave credit to the Buckeyes and the crowd of 105,267.

"The environment here is unique," Hoeppner said. "The home field advantage here is, if you look it up in the dictionary, the exact definition."

Ohio State had not played exceptionally well in any of its four previous home games. In fact, you could argue its three road games at Texas, Iowa and Michigan State had been OSU's three best performances of the year.

"We wanted to come out and take control of the game," Ginn said. "We had not played very well at home yet the whole year. We wanted to put some points on the board and take control."

* Barton said he knew Ginn had what it took to complete his 38-yard touchdown pass to Rory Nicol on a reverse.

"When he was a senior at Glenville (in 2003), he beat my team (Massillon Perry) by running all over the place like Michael Vick," Barton said. "He threw a strike and that was a good play."

Now for headlines around the Big Ten:

* The Game of the Week was at Northwestern, where Michigan State rallied from a 35-point deficit to defeat the stunned Wildcats 41-38. The comeback was the largest in Division I-A history, knocking 31-point comebacks by Maryland (against Miami in a 42-40 win in 1984) and Ohio State (against Minnesota in a 41-37 win in 1989) out of the record books.

MSU trailed 38-3 after C.J. Bacher hit Shaun Herbert with a 5-yard TD pass with 9:54 left in the third quarter. But MSU scored 41 points over the game's final 22:03 to steal the win. In that comeback, Drew Stanton threw for two TDs and also had a scoring run. MSU also tallied after Ashton Henderson returned a blocked punt 33 yards for a score.

With the game tied at 38-38, MSU's Travis Key intercepted an NU pass. That set up Brett Swenson's 28-yard field goal with 18 seconds left to cap the improbable victory – and save John L. Smith's job for another week.

* No. 2 Michigan shrugged off a challenge from Iowa and pulled away late for a 20-6 win over Iowa. Mike Hart had 126 yards and two TDs on 31 carries in the win.

On Nov. 18, Michigan and Ohio State seem destined to meet as unbeatens for just the third time in the 103 years of their storied rivalry. OSU has remaining games against Minnesota and at Illinois and Northwestern. Michigan has Northwestern, Ball State and Indiana yet to play. The winner of the OSU-Michigan game, at this point, will almost assuredly play for the national championship Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz.

(OSU and Michigan were also unbeaten showdowns in 1970 and 1973. OSU won 20-9 in 1970 and the teams tied 10-10 in 1973.)

* No. 21 Wisconsin downed host Purdue 24-3. P.J. Hill ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns, and John Stocco completed 13 of 21 passes for 201 yards for the Badgers. Purdue's Curtis Painter completed 20 of 40 passes for 187 yards. He entered the game ranked second in the nation in passing yards, but never found a rhythm.

Wisconsin, which entered the game with the nation's sixth-ranked defense, held the nation's fourth-ranked offense to 286 yards, 185 below its average. Purdue failed to score at least 10 points for the first time in three years.

* Penn State bounced back from its loss to Michigan with a 26-12 win over visiting Illinois. The defense picked up a banged up PSU offense as cornerback Tony Davis scored on a 6-yard fumble return, while Anthony Scirrotto had two interceptions and returned an onside kick for a touchdown.

Anthony Morelli threw for 144 yards and a touchdown one week after he was knocked out of the loss to UM.

* Minnesota nearly suffered the indignity of a home loss to Division I-AA North Dakota State. The Gophers needed to block a late NDSU field goal to preserve a 10-9 win against the Bison, ranked ninth in the I-AA ranks.

"They took it to us in every way, shape and form," UM coach Glen Mason said. "I'm just happy we won the game."

Thousands of NDSU fans attended the game at the Metrodome and were so loud they drowned out "Fire Mason!" chants from the UM student section.

Amir Pinnix had 97 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries for Minnesota.

* In terms of bowl bids, it looks like Ohio State and Michigan are each BCS bound, one at 12-0 and the other likely at 11-1. The winner, as noted, would play in the title game. The loser could be selected as a "replacement" at-large team at the Rose Bowl.

Wisconsin, if it can negotiate wins at home over Penn State and at Iowa, could be 11-1 and would still end up in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.

Iowa and Penn State each figure to end up around 8-4. One would be ticketed for the Outback and the other for the Alamo.

Purdue could actually end up 9-4 as it has an extra game at Hawaii. The Boilers seem like a perfect fit for the new tie-in at the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando.

Michigan State's win at Northwestern could turn the Spartans' season around. MSU needs two wins to get to 6-6 and become bowl-eligible. If that happens, the Spartans could be headed to the new tie-in at the Insight Bowl in Tempe.

Indiana needs a 2-2 finish to get to 6-6 and likely snag the Big Ten's last bowl-tie in at the Motor City Bowl. IU, which has not been to postseason play since 1993, has home games with Michigan State and Michigan and road games at Minnesota and Purdue.

Now for headlines around the country:

* No. 12 Clemson spanked No. 13 Georgia Tech 31-7 in an ACC showdown. James Davis ran for a career-high 216 yards and two touchdowns, and C.J. Spiller scored twice on a 50-yard run and a 50-yard pass for the Tigers.

* No. 11 Cal avoided an upset with a 31-24 win over Washington. Marshawn Lynch ran for 150 yards and two scores, including a 22-yard touchdown in overtime, for the Golden Bears.

* No. 6 Louisville remained on pace with No. 4 West Virginia in the Big East with a 28-13 win over Syracuse. RB Kolby Smith rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the win for UL. WVU downed Connecticut 37-11 on Friday night.

* No. 18 Boise State moved to 8-0 and kept hopes alive for an at-large berth to a BCS bowl with a 42-26 win over instate rival Idaho. Ian Johnson ran for 183 yards and four touchdowns in the win as BSU took over sole possession of first place in the Western Athletic Conference.

* No. 5 Texas stayed on track to win the Big 12 South with a 22-20 win over No. 17 Nebraska on a snowy day in Lincoln. The ‘Huskers had enough yardage for a key first down late, but UT's Marcus Griffin recovered receiver Terrence Nunn's fumble at the Nebraska 44 with 2:17 left. Colt McCoy drove the Longhorns to the Nebraska 5 and Ryan Bailey kicked a 22-yarder with 23 seconds left for his first collegiate field goal.

* No. 19 Rutgers moved to 7-0 – its best start since 1976 – with a 20-10 win at Pittsburgh. RB Ray Rice carried 39 times for 225 yards and a score to nearly outgain Pittsburgh by himself.

* No. 22 Boston College got a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown by DeJuan Tribble in a 24-19 win over Florida State, which fell to last place in the ACC Atlantic Division.

* Washington State upset No. 16 Oregon 34-23, holding the Pac-10's top offensive team without an offensive touchdown until midway through the fourth quarter.

* Jeff Samardzija tied a Notre Dame record when he caught a touchdown pass with 27 seconds left, and the No. 10 Irish beat UCLA 20-17. Samardzija's second touchdown reception of the game gave him 22 for his career, matching the mark held by Derrick Mayes, set in 1995. QB Brady Quinn threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns in the come-from-behind win for the Irish.

* No. 24 Missouri improved to 7-1 – matching its best start since 1969 – and snapped a 13-game losing streak to Kansas State with a 41-21 win. QB Chase Daniel threw for 262 yards and four touchdowns for the Tigers.

* No. 7 Tennessee rallied for a 16-13 home win over Alabama as Arian Foster dived into the end zone with 3:28 left for the winning score.

* No. 20 Oklahoma played for the first time without injured Adrian Peterson. The Sooners got 110 yards and a TD from Allen Patrick in a 24-3 win over Colorado.

* Heisman Watch: OSU's Troy Smith (220 yards passing, 4 TDs vs. Indiana) is still my top pick here. Notre Dame's Brady Quinn is probably next. Quinn threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner late against UCLA.

Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson probably saw his Heisman hopes go up in smoke as he was shut out in his team's lopsided loss at Clemson. West Virginia's Steve Slaton (123 yards rushing, one TD vs. UConn) is still firmly in the discussion.

* My new top 15: My top 10 stayed the same. Georgia Tech drops out and Rutgers comes on. Ohio State, Michigan, USC, West Virginia, Louisville, Texas, Notre Dame, Florida, Tennessee, Clemson, California, Auburn, LSU, Arkansas, Rutgers.

* Games To Watch: Clemson-Virginia Tech (Thursday), Texas-Texas Tech, Tennessee-South Carolina, Notre Dame-Navy, Georgia-Florida, Miami (Fla.)-Georgia Tech, Oklahoma-Missouri.

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. 2, Northern Illinois (5-3), beat Temple 43-21, Oct. 21; at Iowa, Oct. 28.

Sept. 9, at Texas (7-1), beat Nebraska 22-20, Oct. 21; at Texas Tech, Oct. 28.

Sept. 16, Cincinnati (3-4), vs. South Florida, Oct. 22; vs. Syracuse, Oct. 28.

Sept. 23, Penn State (5-3), beat Illinois 26-12, Oct. 21; at Purdue, Oct. 28.

Sept. 30, at Iowa (5-3), lost to Michigan 20-6, Oct. 21; vs. Northern Illinois, Oct. 28.

Oct. 7, Bowling Green (4-4), lost to Central Michigan 31-14, Oct. 19; at Temple, Oct. 28.

Oct. 14, at Michigan State (4-4), beat Northwestern 41-38, Oct. 21; at Indiana, Oct. 28.

Oct. 21, Indiana (4-4), lost to Ohio State 44-3, Oct. 21; vs. Michigan State, Oct. 28.

Oct. 28, (3:30 p.m., ABC) Minnesota (3-5), beat North Dakota State 10-9, Oct. 21; at Ohio State, Oct. 28.

Nov. 4, at Illinois (2-6), lost to Penn State 26-12, Oct. 21; at Wisconsin, Oct. 28.

Nov. 11, at Northwestern (2-6), lost to Michigan State 41-38, Oct. 21; at Michigan, Oct. 28.

Nov. 18, (3:30 p.m., ABC) Michigan (8-0), beat Iowa 20-6, Oct. 21; vs. Northwestern, Oct. 28.

Big Ten Standings

Team (Overall, Big Ten)

Michigan (8-0, 5-0)

Ohio State (8-0, 4-0)

Wisconsin (7-1, 4-1)

Penn State (5-3, 3-2)

Purdue (5-3, 2-2)

Indiana (4-4, 2-2)

Iowa (5-3, 2-3)

Michigan State (4-4, 1-3)

Illinois (2-6, 1-3)

Minnesota (3-5, 0-4)

Northwestern (2-6, 0-5)

Oct. 21 Results

Wisconsin 24, Purdue 3

Penn State 26, Illinois 12

Ohio State 44, Indiana 3

Michigan State 41, Northwestern 38

Minnesota 10, North Dakota State 9

Michigan 20, Iowa 6

Oct. 28 Games

Penn State at Purdue, noon (ABC)

Northwestern at Michigan, noon (ESPN)

Illinois at Wisconsin, noon (ESPN2)

Michigan State at Indiana, noon (ESPN-Plus Regional)

Northern Illinois at Iowa, noon (ESPNU)

Minnesota at Ohio State, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)

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