Buckeyes Have Avoided WAC Attacks

Ohio State will face New Mexico State for the first time this weekend, but the Buckeyes have faced the current members of the Western Athletic Conference - Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State - three times before.

Oct. 12, 2002: No. 1 Ohio State 50, San Jose State 0: In a season that featured many nail-biting finishes, Ohio State scored early and often against the overmatched Spartans in front of a then-record Ohio Stadium crowd of 104,892.

A week after the Buckeyes turned the ball over three times in a 27-16 win at Northwestern, OSU took advantage of four SJSU fumbles en route to the rout. Ohio State (7-0) scored 34 unanswered points to break open what was a tight 10-7 game in the first quarter.

"They hit us hard in the first half and made some plays, but our defense just kept coming," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said in the Oct. 19, 2002, edition of BSB. "They were relentless. I think we wore them down a little. But we had a lot of respect for San Jose State. Our players had watched the films and seen how good San Jose State was. But we were able to make some plays and create some turnovers."

Ohio State outgained the 4-3 Spartans 567-265 and held SJSU to zero rushing yards on 13 carries – the fewest rushing attempts ever by an OSU opponent.

Freshman tailback Maurice Clarett rebounded from a subpar performance in Evanston in which he lost three fumbles. Clarett tied Robert Smith's school record for most 100-yard rushing performances by a freshman (five) and finished with 132 yards on 18 carries. He scored two rushing touchdowns and added a third on a reception.

"It feels real good," Clarett said. "It was good to come back after having a bad week last week. We were able to get some confidence under our belt."

The Buckeyes started the scoring with a Clarett 1-yard touchdown run on a drive that was set up by a fourth-down stop by the defense. SJSU took the opening kickoff and drove to the OSU 46-yard line before Trevin George was stopped for a loss on a fourth-and-1 play. Clarett's first score came at the 9:39 mark of the first quarter and gave the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead.

The lead extended to 10-0 early in the second quarter when Mike Nugent capped an 11-play, 50-yard drive with a 36-yard field goal.

The Spartans answered the field goal quickly with a five-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. Scott Rislov found Charles Pauley for a 9-yard touchdown on a slant patter to cut the lead to 10-7 with 9:48 left before halftime.

It all went downhill for the Spartans after the touchdown. The lead was 24-7 at halftime after the Buckeyes added a 37-yard touchdown reception by Chris Vance from quarterback Craig Krenzel and a 5-yard touchdown plunge by Clarett before the break. The onslaught continued in the third quarter. Nugent opened the second-half scoring with a 29-yard field goal, and Clarett added a 7-yard touchdown reception from Krenzel. The junior quarterback then found Michael Jenkins for a 40-yard scoring strike.

Lydell Ross scored on a 2-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, and Nugent finished the scoring with a 28-yard field goal.

Krenzel threw for 241 yards and three touchdowns on 11 of 14 passes. Jenkins was his top target, hauling in seven passes for 136 yards.

The OSU defense was led by a nine-tackle performance by Dustin Fox, who also recovered one of the four SJSU fumbles.

Sept. 2, 2000 – No. 16 Ohio State 43, Fresno State 10: The Buckeyes began the season by blasting the Bulldogs in the first game following renovations at Ohio Stadium. OSU scored more than 40 points, but the smothering defense was what thrilled the then-Ohio Stadium crowd of 96,583. The defense scored a school-record four touchdowns in the victory. Cornerback David Mitchell returned a fumble and an interception for touchdowns. Safety Mike Doss recovered another fumble for a score, and linebacker Matt Wilhelm added a late interception return to the end zone.

"Anytime your defense scores four times, that's pretty good," linebacker Joe Cooper said in the Sept. 9, 2000, edition of BSB.

It was a rough first start for Fresno State quarterback David Carr. He completed 26 of 44 passes for 238 yards. Carr did not throw a touchdown pass and was intercepted four times.

Doss' fumble recovery started the scoring late in the first quarter, and only21 seconds later Mitchell returned another fumble 34 yards for a score when he picked up a ball that was caught by Fresno State's David Shabaglian and stripped by OSU's Derek Ross.

"I was surprised," Mitchell said of his first score. "When I picked it up, I was praying they called it a fumble instead of an incomplete pass. I just took it to the end zone, and they called it a touchdown.

Steve Bellisari then added a 23-yard second-quarter touchdown pass to Chad Cacchio to make the score 20-0 at halftime. Mitchell's 51-yard interception return in the third quarter extended the lead, and Ohio State added 16 fourth-quarter points to complete the rout. Dan Stultz booted a 34-yard field goal, while Wilhelm reached the end zone on a 25-yard interception return and Ricky Bryant caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Scott McMullen on the last play of the game.

Derek Combs, who started the game on the bench because of a disciplinary matter, led the Ohio State rushing attack with 88 yards on 14 carries. Jonathan Wells added 65 yards on 14 carries and started in place of Combs.

Bellisari completed 8 of 14 passes for 95 yards, and backups Craig Krenzel and McMullen also saw playing time in the second half.

But the defense ruled the day. Mitchell added six tackles to go with his two touchdowns, and Doss had seven tackles. Clements was Ohio State's leading tackler with 10 stops.

"I thought we would have a good day, but I didn't know it would be a perfect day like this," Mitchell said.

Aug. 29, 1994 – Ohio State 34, Fresno State 10: The Buckeyes jumped on the Bulldogs early, building a 21-0 lead and cruising to a victory in the fifth-annual Disneyland Pigskin Classic in Anaheim, Calif.

Eddie George's 1-yard touchdown run and Joey Galloway's 67-yard TD strike from Bobby Hoying gave the Buckeyes a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. George added another 1-yard run early in the second quarter to give Ohio State all the cushion it would need.

"We used some things, but I certainly wouldn't want to say we used everything we have," Ohio State offensive coordinator Joe Hollis said in the Sept. 10, 1994, edition of BSB. "I don't think that's to your advantage this early in the year. We wanted to do some things, we were successful with them and we stuck with them. We won the ball game and that's the important thing."

Ohio State featured a mostly vanilla attack, but the Buckeyes did show some razzle dazzle early. A reverse to Galloway gained 11-yards on OSU's first drive of the game, and Hoying connected with Buster Tillman for a 28-yard gain on a third-and-six play. After that it was back to smashmouth football, however. George, making his first collegiate start, carried seven straight times after Tillman's reception and bulled into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown to start the scoring.

The OSU defense set up the next score. After punter Scott Terna pinned FSU at its own 4-yard line, it took only four plays for the Buckeyes to get the ball back. Free safety Tim Patillo picked off quarterback Adrian Claiborne's deep pass at the OSU 33. It only took one play for the Buckeyes to make FSU pay for the miscue. Hoying found Galloway alone down the right sideline on first down and the duo connected for a 67-yard touchdown strike.

George then added another 1-yard TD run on Ohio State's next possession, and Ohio State cruised from there. Fresno State got on the board with a touchdown Claiborne touchdown pass to tailback Michael Pittman to make it 21-7 at halftime, but Ohio State outscored FSU 13-3 after the break. Josh Jackson made a pair of field goals from 28 and 33 yards, respectively, and Galloway sandwiched the boots with an 8-yard touchdown run on a pitch from Hoying.

Galloway was named the Pigskin Classic's MVP despite only touching the ball six times. He caught two passes, rushed two times, returned two kickoffs and scored two touchdowns. Galloway netted 152 yards of total offense – 88 receiving, 19 rushing and 45 on returns.

Hoying and George were both worthy of accolades after the game. The quarterback completed 10 of 16 passes for 194 yards, while George finished with 90 yards on 24 carries.

"I don't mind," George said of his workload. "That's what I'm here for."

Defensively, Lorenzo Styles led the Ohio State effort with 12 stops. Matt Finkes, Matt Bonhaus and Luke Fickell each recorded sacks.

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