Cowboys Fall to Buckeyes

The good news for the Oklahoma State football program is that Les Miles has led the Cowboys to three consecutive bowl games for only the second time in school history. The bad news is Cowboys didn't look like much of a bowl team in Wednesday night's 33-7 loss to Ohio State in the Alamo Bowl.

Ohio State, ranked 22nd in the Associated Press poll, dominated the Alamo Bowl from the opening minutes en route to their eighth victory of the season. Oklahoma State finished the season with a 7-5 record after beginning the year with five consecutive victories.

The Cowboys, who entered the game with the nation's best turnover margin (plus-18), turned the ball over twice in the first seven minutes of the game and the Buckeyes took advantage.

Quarterback Donovan Woods' pass on the third play of the game was intercepted by Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter and returned nine yards to the Cowboys' 28-yard line. Buckeye quarterback Justin Zwick threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez three plays later and the rout was on less than three minutes into the game.

Ohio State kicker Mike Nugent, the Lou Groza Award winner for the nation's best placekicker, added a pair of field goals in the first quarter as the Buckeyes went up 13-0. The second field goal came after Donovan Woods fumbled at midfield while scrambling.

"We didn't start fast," OSU head coach Les Miles said. "We turned the ball over early and gave them the short field. We got down 13-0 before we could get the ball back and look up."

Early in the second quarter, the Buckeyes drove 78 yards in nine plays to go up 20-0 on a 1-yard run by Lydell Ross. They added another Nugent field goal -- this time a 41-yarder -- with 4:19 remaining in the first half to take a 23-0 halftime lead.

The Cowboys got the break they were looking for on the first play of the second half when Ohio State's Branden Joe fumbled and OSU safety Jamie Thompson recovered on the Buckeye 33-yard line. A few plays later, facing a fourth-and-2 from the 25, wide receiver Prentiss Elliott took a handoff on a reverse for 17 yards to the Ohio State 8. The drive stalled at the 6-yard line but Miles elected to go for a fake field goal with the Cowboys trailing by 23. Holder John Wohlgemuth tried to outrun the Buckeye defenders around the left corner but was caught and thrown out of bounds at the 6.

The Buckeyes drove the length of the field on the ensuing drive -- 94 yards in 9 plays -- with Ted Ginn scoring on a 5-yard run to dash any hopes the Cowboys had of staging a remarkable comeback. Nugent added his fourth field goal of the game early in the fourth quarter to give the Buckeyes a 33-0 lead.

The Cowboys got on the scoreboard on their next drive, going 80 yards in 8 plays to avoid a shutout. Donovan Woods, who was awarded the sportsmanship award after the game, scrambled for 28 yards on the first play of the drive. He hit his brother D'Juan Woods for a 19-yard gain, and carried for 11 more yards on a keeper. On a key third-and-4 play from the Ohio State 13, Donovan Woods hit fullback Shawn Willis for a 9-yard gain to the 4. Willis scored on the next play for the Cowboys' only points of the game.

"As down and as unhappy as we are right now, we're in our third straight bowl game and we will get better," Miles said. "It's not what we wanted, but we'll get this thing fixed and headed in the right direction. The future is still very bright at Oklahoma State."

Unofficial statistics show that Ohio State outgained the Cowboys 401 yards to 283. Donovan Woods was 15-of-34 passing for 137 yards with one interception. He also carried the ball 12 times for 73 yards.

"Donovan Woods is a guy that is very competitive," Miles said. "He took several big hits and got right up, and except for one play said he was ready to go back in."

Zwick, making his first start since late October, completed 17-of-27 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown. Ross led all rushers with 99 yards. Ted Ginn, who saw action at quarterback when Zwick went down with a hamstring injury, finished with 118 total yards. Ginn carried the ball 8 times for 40 yards and caught six passes for 78 yards.

"Ginn is a great player. I don't know if I've seen one as good as him this year," Miles said.

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