12:00 PM ET, October 21, 2006
Ohio Stadium, COLUMBUS, OH
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.
"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 the team.
"I still think we have the best defense in the nation," he said.
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 passing efficiency.
"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 almost alone.
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 lead.
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 said.
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."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Ohio State scored its first touchdown of the game late in the first quarter.
Gameball goes to... Troy Smith. The Heisman hopeful QB was 15-of-23, throwing for 220 yards and four touchdowns.
Stat of the game... 7. Ohio State was balanced on offense with 270 yards both rushing and passing. Indiana was not balanced, rushing for just seven yards.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-15||8-13|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-0|
|FG||7:59||AUSTIN STARR 34 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, 0 yards.
|TD||2:55||RORY NICOL 23 YD PASS FROM TROY SMITH (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 87 yards.
|TD||14:52||TED GINN JR. 31 YD PASS FROM TROY SMITH (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||6:32||ANTHONY GONZALEZ 5 YD PASS FROM TROY SMITH (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 78 yards.
|TD||0:20||JAKE BALLARD 1 YD PASS FROM TROY SMITH (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 49 yards.
|TD||9:04||RORY NICOL 38 YD PASS FROM TED GINN JR. (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 58 yards.
|FG||0:25||AARON PETTREY 51 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 47 yards.
|TD||7:04||CHRIS WELLS 12 YD RUN (MISSED KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 68 yards.