COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Troy Smith is getting lots of help in his
bid for the Heisman Trophy.
Smith connected with four different receivers for first-half
touchdown passes and a stingy defense powered top-ranked Ohio State
to a 44-3 victory over Indiana on Saturday.
Troy Smith has yet to pull a Heisman pose, but at this point you'd have to forgive him if he did. Ohio State's senior quarterback added to his already-gaudy stats on Saturday, going 15-of-23 for 220 yards while throwing 4 TDs without a pick. Unbelievably, that kind of performance has been the rule, not the exception, for Smith this season. Smith hasn't thrown an interception in seven of the eight Buckeye wins and his completion percentage has never dipped below the 50 percent Plimsoll Line. With the date fast approaching, the Columbus faithful has begun drooling over what could be OSU's second No. 1 vs. No. 2 game of the season when Michigan comes to town Nov. 18. Without further ado, Smith's season stats:
"We're an equal-opportunity employer," coach Jim Tressel said
after the Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten) stretched the nation's
longest winning streak to 15. "We'll throw it to whoever's open."
Forget "three yards and a cloud of dust." Eight receivers
caught passes as the offense piled up 270 yards through the air and
another 270 on the ground.
"Offensively we did some positive things, but there's always
room for improvement," said Smith, who graduated this spring and
is now pursuing a second degree.
As always, he deflected praise to almost every other person on
"I still think we have the best defense in the nation," he
Indiana (4-4, 2-2), now 0-15 against No. 1 teams, mustered just
7 yards rushing on 28 attempts and totaled 165 yards. Jay
Richardson had two sacks in the first half as the Buckeyes built a
28-3 lead, with Antonio Smith coming up from his cornerback spot
for 12 tackles, four tackles for minus yardage and a sack, in
addition to causing a fumble.
Ted Ginn Jr. caught a touchdown pass from Troy Smith and threw
one of his own, a 38-yarder to Rory Nicol, who also caught a
scoring pass from Smith.
Smith was impressed by his former high school teammate's sudden
"We had been practicing and practicing and practicing, watching
duck after duck after duck," Smith said with a laugh. "After I
carried out the fake, I turned around and saw a perfect spiral."
Smith wasn't all that sharp, but didn't have to be against an
Indiana defense that came in ranked next to last in the Big Ten in
points allowed. Despite incompletions on his first four attempts,
he was 15-of-23 for 230 yards without an interception. His scoring
strikes covered 23 yards to Nicol, 31 yards to Ginn, 5 yards to
Anthony Gonzalez and 1 yard to Jake Ballard -- giving Smith 21 TD
passes this season with just two interceptions.
Smith mixed an array of play-action fakes, runs and passes to
completely befuddle the Hoosiers.
"We gave up too many easy touchdowns," Indiana coach Terry
Hoeppner said. "It looks like we have him contained, like we're
going to sack him, and he gets loose and the guy's wide open and
it's a touchdown. It's hard to practice against that."
Indiana freshman quarterback Kellen Lewis continually scrambled
away from Ohio State's defensive pressure. Lewis completed 15 of 28
passes for 106 yards without an interception.
Ohio State scored on its final four possessions of the half, all
on Smith touchdown passes -- and on three of them the receiver was
Tracy Porter returned a punt 34 yards to the Ohio State 15 and
Austin Starr converted a 34-yard field goal to give Indiana a 3-0
The Buckeyes punted twice while Smith got untracked, then he
finally completed a 22-yarder to Antonio Pittman on his fifth pass
and kept the drive going by avoiding tacklers by rolling right and
reversing his field on a scramble that netted 29 yards.
"I had been teased the whole week about not being able to pull
away from a defender, so that was one of my reasons for really,
really bearing down and trying to get around the edge," Smith
On third and 1 at the Indiana 23, Smith executed a near-perfect
play-action fake and flipped a pass over the middle to tight end
Nicol, who had a 5-yard head start on the entire defense. Nicol
rumbled into the end zone with his fist upraised.
After a short punt, Ohio State took over again near midfield and
needed four plays to score. This time, Smith spun away from lineman
Keith Burrus and lobbed a pass into the end zone that hung in the
air long enough for Ginn to run under it for the 31-yard score.
On the next possession, Gonzalez somehow got lost in the Indiana
secondary and was standing with no defender closer than 20 feet in
the left side of the end zone when Smith found him.
"I saw Troy escape the pocket and my eyes went to him for a
split second -- and Ted saw the opening," Porter said.
Then it took just three plays to cover 49 yards in 31 seconds to
make it 28-3, with Smith tossing a 1-yard pass into traffic in the
end zone that backup tight end Ballard pulled in for his first
collegiate catch and score.
"It's hard to find many things we did well today," Hoeppner
said. "And that's a tribute to the Buckeyes."
There still are plenty of doubters, but anyone who doesn't accept that the undefeated Hawkeyes are legit better start thinking again.
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