We hear a lot about the stereotype view of Big Ten football. Proudly, the Buckeyes did nothing to disprove that stereotype today as they bowled over the Washington State Cougars 25-7 behind the running muscle of Maurice Clarett, who went for 230 yards and 2 TDs on 31 carries.
In the early going, the Cougars' open pass attack was working for them. The Buckeyes opened with the ball at their own 35-yard line after a kick out of bounds, and promptly moved down the field in a hurry with the strength of a 35-yard passing play from Craig Krenzel to Michael Jenkins. The drive stalled, but Mike Nugent was able to boot a 43-yard field goal for the 3-0 lead.
WSU answered right back though. They moved down the field effectively on an 80-yard drive that was capped by a short TD pass from Jason Gesser to Devard Darling to make it 7-3. The Buckeyes couldn't do much on the next drive, and it looked like they were going to be in for a game.
WSU got the ball back and drove it down into Buckeye territory again, but they decided to go for it on 4th down and couldn't convert. OSU couldn't do anything from there though and had to punt back on their next drive. WSU was forced to punt on the ensuing drive, and then the Buckeyes got the ball and were able to put together a drive that was led by a 36-yd run by Lydell Ross. The drive was capped by another 43-yard field goal for Mike Nugent to make it 7-6.
The two teams exchanged failed drives again, and then WSU got the ball late in the half and made another long drive. After converting on a 3rd and 21, WSU looked poised to score a TD, but the Buckeye defense held strong, and then the first big WSU special teams blunder of the day took place as they lined up for a field goal that was unsuccessful due to a botched snap. The score remained 7-6 and would stay that way until halftime.
WSU was doing a good job against the Buckeye offense in the first half, but that wouldn't last long. After getting the opening kickoff and having to punt shortly after, WSU's fortunes would turn and Maurice Clarett would take control. The Buckeyes took over at their own nine-yard line, but then the biggest play of the game took place as Maurice took the handoff and raced 44 yards. The Buckeyes continued to run the ball down the field (in a drive that saw Chris Vance's first catch of the game), and they scored their first TD of the game on a 3-yard run by Clarett. Nugent's PAT made it 13-7.
On the next drive, Jason Gesser's first pass was picked off by Matt Wilhelm on an athletic play where he tipped the ball to himself. The Bucks opened a their own 47, but they would go three and out and had to punt. WSU also had to punt on their next drive, and the Buckeyes took over with good field position again at their own 47. A few plays later, the Bucks were in field goal range and Mike Nugent booted his third field goal of the day, this time from 44 yards.
The following WSU drive saw their biggest special teams blunder of the day. After going three-and-out, the Cougars lined up to punt, but the ball was snapped over the punter's head and out of the end zone for a safety. At this point, it seemed like things were starting to look bleak for Washington State.
On the next drive, the Buckeyes drilled the final nail in the coffin as they took over at their own 34 and moved the ball down the field to about the 30-yard line, and from there, Craig Krenzel made a big play as from the shotgun, he took the ball on a keeper and scampered 29 yards to the 1-yard line, from where Maurice Clarett punched it in for his second TD. After the PAT, the score was now 25-7.
The Buckeye D played a bit softer on the following drive, and WSU drove the ball down deep into OSU territory, but Tyler Everett sealed the deal when he picked off Jason Gesser's pass at the 4-yd line. From there, with the help of a 16-yard run from Clarett and a 44-yard run by Clarett, the Buckeyes would eat up the clock and the game would come to an end.
Thoughts and notes:
- Indeed, this once again was a big show for Maurice Clarett. He proved to be worth the hype and then some. The whole nation knows what he can do, and this freshman is the best in the country. He is proving to be the complete package and is establishing himself as the next Buckeye superstar. One way you could tell was despite all the preseason hype of Mike Doss being OSU's top player, all the focus was on him before, during and after the game. Sit back and enjoy the show fans.
- Maurice did all this with a bit of a limp too. We haven't heard exactly what is up with that although it seemed to be just cramps. Maurice didn't look good when he pointed at the scoreboard towards the end of the game, but other than that, he was all good.
- The defense did a fine job adjusting. They didn't allow much of anything in the second half and did another good job stopping a wide-open offense. By the way, in case you thought Texas Tech was chopped liver, they blasted a quality Ole Miss team today, 42-28.
- The NUGE!!! We saw today the impact special teams can have on a game. Mike Nugent proved to be a weapon for the Buckeyes as he went 3-for-3 (last year, we were just hoping the field goal kickers would make it. Now, we wonder if Mike Nugent will miss). Special teams blunders were killers for OSU, but Mike delivered when called upon. The Buckeyes indeed have a kicker (for the rest of this season and two more to come).
- This was indeed a tale of two halves, including the trenches. The WSU DL looked hard to handle in the first half, and they showed it with four first half sacks. But things turned around in the second half. They didn't look like the same team.
- How good is Washington State? I think they're a quality football team. The Pac-10 will be tough for them to win since it is looking pretty solid at the top, especially with USC looking like they might actually play up to their ability this year. But the Buckeyes beat a worthy opponent today. The Cougars will have a good year this year, and they'll bounce back from this game. Also, Mike Price is hard not to like. He always seems to be warm and tries to keep a smile on his face, but you had to love when he showed his temper a bit during the halftime interview when through a smile, he said, "Those officials make me so DAMN mad!" The Buckeyes did apparently get a couple calls go their way though.
- The OL had more penalties today than in the first two games as they were flagged for a few false starts. But overall, the Bucks only got flagged three times for 15 yards, which is good.
- Darrion Scott had a highlight reel hit in the fourth quarter today. If you're a fan of big hits, you probably loved this one as he drilled Jason Gesser, picking him up off his feet and planting him in the ground. He had one of two sacks today.
- Krenzel still hasn't thrown an interception this year although this was not his best day passing as he only went 4-of-10 for 72 yards. He'll have better days, but as it turned out today, he didn't have to win the game with his arm (although he did show that sneaky scrambling ability again with that key 29-yard run).
Overall, it was a big win for Ohio State. They solidified their top ten ranking and proved to be the team to beat in the Big Ten. Speaking of which... Big Ten teams, WHAT IS UP??? Michigan went down to Notre Dame (well, we can live with that one I think), Michigan State got BLASTED at home by California, Wisconsin struggled and got all they could handle from Northern Illinois and likewise for Purdue from Western Michigan. Northwestern got their W today though over Duke. Penn State and Nebraska are scoreless right now; we will see if they can help out the Big Ten any.
Back to OSU though... the train is now rolling, and the Buckeyes are set for a very successful season. Next up is Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium, and let's hope the Buckeyes will be able to come to play and be ready to take it to the Bearcats. Great win today Bucks!