Freshman Maurice Clarett scored three touchdowns and Craig Krenzel threw three TD passes as the Buckeyes used a balanced attack to beat mistake-prone San Jose State 50-7 Saturday.
San Jose State (4-3) came into the game leading the nation in takeaways with 24, but Ohio State had one turnover while the Spartans lost four fumbles to turn the game into a rout.
"You don't have many opportunities to play the No. 5 team in the country. You have to be perfect," San Jose State coach Fitz Hill said. "And we were far from perfect."
Clarett, who finished with 132 yards on 18 carries, scored on runs of 1 and 5 yards and caught a 7-yard TD pass from Krenzel. Krenzel completed 11 of 14 passes for 241 yards and also had TD passes of 40 yards to Mike Jenkins and 37 yards to Chris Vance.
Clarett and Krenzel went to the sideline midway through the third quarter after the Buckeyes (7-0) scored 31 unanswered points to build a 41-7 lead.
Clarett lost three fumbles last week in a win at Northwestern and also clashed on the sideline with his position coach. This week he got the message.
"The coach told me to protect the ball. My teammates told me to protect that ball," Clarett said. "That was it."
The game was played before a crowd of 104,892, the largest ever to see a game at Ohio Stadium.
San Jose State quarterback Scott Rislov, passing on almost every snap, completed 36 of 44 passes for 265 yards and a touchdown, setting school records for completions and completion percentage.
Hill, who tried to get his team out of this game in the spring, pulled Rislov soon after he set the records.
Hill said before the game that he regretted having to travel cross country to play a non-conference game and risk injury in the middle of the Western Athletic Conference season.
San Jose State (4-3) had zero rushing yards on 13 attempts -- the fewest number of carries ever against Ohio State.
"We've been stopping the run all year," free safety Donnie Nickey said. "But I never thought I'd see a game where the opponent had zero yards."
Clarett, who has 15 touchdowns in six games -- he missed one after having knee surgery -- gave the Buckeyes a quick lead on a 1-yard plunge on Ohio State's first possession.
"Maurice likes to get into the end zone, there's no question about it," Tressel said. "He knows how to do that."
After the Spartans pulled to 10-7 on Rislov's 9-yard scoring pass to Charles Pauley in the second quarter, San Jose State turned the ball over on fumbles on its next four possessions. The Buckeyes turned three of them into touchdowns.
"When the takeaways began, and the defense started knocking the ball loose, your could see the tide of the game change," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said.
Krenzel completed passes of 14 yards to Vance and 17 yards to Jenkins, then found a diving Vance over the middle for the 37-yard score to cap a 68-yard, 56-second drive.
"It's been frustrating to us to have so many big-play guys outside and not be able to throw the ball with any amount of success," Krenzel said. "Today it came together."
Mike Nugent, who kicked a 29-yard field goal on the Buckeyes' first possession of the half, kicked three field goals to tie Vlade Janakievski's Ohio State record of 15 in a row.
Ohio State rushed 49 times for 212 yards and amassed 567 yards of total offense. Scott McMullen relieved Krenzel and hit 8 of 9 passes for 114 yards to give the Buckeyes 355 yards through the air.
Hill looked at those numbers and the Spartans' four turnovers and shook his head.
"The way we beat people, we were beat today," he said.
Next Game: SJSU at Nevada Reno
Date: This Saturday October 19th in Reno.
Where to Listen: On this site by clicking on the "Yahoo SJSU Sports" link under the "Spartan Media Links" section on the front of this site.
The Spartans travel to Reno to take on the Wolf Pack of Nevada Reno in a crucial WAC contest.
Nevada (2-4, 1-1) features the nation's top receiver (Nate Burleson) and has a note worthy QB in Zack Threadgill.
UNR's running back, Chance Kretschmer, is out for the season with a knee injury.
His replacements in Matt Milton and B.J. Mitchell will take the pigskin on the running attack for Nevada Reno.
The real offensive weapon is Threadgill, who has completed over 61% of his passes for 1861 yards and 14 TDs. UNR reciever, Burleson, has 825 yards and 5 TDs. These two are like Oakland's "Gannon to Brown".
The UNR defense is giving up over 460 yards per game. The pack "D" is led by Free Safety Keone Kauo, DE Jorge Cordova and MLB Daryl Towns.
SpartanThunder.com predicts this game to be the season "back breaker" game, where as a win keeps the Spartans in the drivers seat for the WAC title.
A loss to Nevada saturday, and all momentum that has come from the wins over UTEP, SMU, and defending Big Ten Champ, Illinois, will be hard to get started again.
SJSU still has to play Boise State, LA Tech, and Fresno State at home, and the media has all of these teams finishing ahead of SJSU at the completion of the season.
When the Spartans have the ball:
Look for the SJSU running game to make it's re-emergence with Martin, Rigg, and Ferguson taking a variety of snaps.
Look for SJSU QB, Rislov, to air the ball out to Pauley, Starling, or Broussard.
When UNR has the ball:
We expect UNR to run the ball quite often in this WAC contest. UNR as does the rest of the WAC knows that SJSU cannot stop the run effectively, as UTEP ran the ball OK in their game against the Spartans a few games earlier in the season.
This game will be closer than most Nevada Reno fans think, but SJSU's air attack, along with Fergusons un-predictable spurts will be too much for UNR.
SJSU over UNR by a score of 52 to 42.