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Buckeyes Buckeye Archive Buckeyes Roll Toward No. 1 in Tressel's 100th Win
Written by Dan Wismar

Dan Wismar

Chappell_Indiana1The Ohio State Buckeyes started Jim Tressel's 100th victory celebration early by roaring out to a 31-0 halftime lead, and then coasting home to an easy 38-10 win over the Indiana Hoosiers Saturday in Columbus. Then when Alabama stumbled later in the afternoon, the Buckeyes whole perspective changed...from No. 2 and trying what will probably be the top spot in the national polls this week.

Ohio State (6-0, 2-0) beat Indiana for the 16th consecutive time to reach the halfway point of the schedule unbeaten, and they put Tressel into the record books for reaching 100 wins faster than all but two Big Ten coaches in league history. Bill Lynch's Hoosiers (3-2, 0-2) were the unwitting victims of what had the feel of a statement game for the Buckeyes, as they dominated in all phases, and stopped the high-functioning IU offense in its tracks.

Tressel's milestone shared top billing with Terrelle Pryor's injured thigh on this afternoon, and the junior quarterback responded with an impressive passing performance in the first half...which earned him lots of time off in the second. After driving the Buckeyes to a touchdown on their first second-half possession to make the score 38-0, Pryor spent the rest of the day watching from the sidelines.

The Ohio State defense was apparently tired of hearing about the 2010 Hoosiers and their 350 yards per game passing, or their 450 total yards per game. The Bucks completely throttled Ben Chappell and the touted IU passing attack, holding the Hoosiers to 141 passing yards and just 210 yards total. They intercepted Chappell twice (and his replacement once more) and allowed no more than one first down in any of the Hoosiers' first six possessions. By that time it was 28-0 late in the second quarter, and the OSU second-teamers were stretching.

So Ohio State will enjoy the No. 1 ranking in the country this week, hoping of course that they can keep it that way beyond next Saturday night in Madison, Wisconsin. How does that national TV night game with the Badgers shape up now?  76,000 slightly sloshed cheeseheads at Camp Randall Stadium...with the top-ranked Buckeyes coming to call?  It won't be crazy up there or anything. (I'm hearing it'll be the GameDay locale)

Pryor Restraint

Operating on a left quad strain that he said felt like it was at "80 to 90 percent", Pryor did not attempt a running play against the Hoosiers, and took three sacks for -19 rushing yards. Instead, he put on a passing clinic against the overmatched Indiana defenders, shredding the Hoosier defense for a career high 334 yards, on 24 of 30 passing, with three touchdowns. Sooner or later, teams are going to learn to stop daring Pryor to throw the ball.

Pryor credited the job the OSU training staff did getting him ready to play after he dismantled the Indiana defense with a career high in completions, and threw touchdown passes to Dane Sanzenbacher, Brandon Saine and DeVier Posey. Posey led all Buckeye receivers with 8 catches for 103 yards and a 17-yard TD reception. Sanzenbacher and Saine had four catches and a touchdown each.

The message delivered by the Ohio State offense in this game was unmistakable. Terrelle Pryor is a passing quarterback. The defense knew he wasn't really going to be a threat to run, and yet he had his way with the mostly hapless Indiana secondary. The offensive line gave him excellent protection for the most part, and it was pitch and catch for Pryor and his receivers. "I just really wanted to throw the ball and rest my leg as much as possible," Pryor said afterward.

The Indiana pass defense is awful, but this game did allow the Ohio State offense to execute and improve in a game situation without putting any real pressure on their quarterback, and allowing him to sit down after two and a half quarters. It was just what the doctor ordered for Pryor before going on the road for a tough matchup with a very physical team.

Berry_Indiana2Changing of the Guard?

The worst kept secret of the OSU rushing game has been the relative ineffectiveness of Brandon Saine rushing the football as the starting tailback of late. Saine has always caught the ball well out of the backfield, and done the other little things Tressel values in his running backs, like blitz pickups and holding onto the football. So he continues to play over some of the younger backs that some feel have earned more carries.

The Indiana game clearly accelerated what had been a gradual change in the team's use of Saine, in order to get better results running the ball, while still taking advantage of what he does best. (It's as if the OSU coaches finally started listening to astute message board posters who have been calling for Saine to have his rushing carries reduced and/or be moved to the slot receiver position for weeks.)

OSU ran the ball 27 times in the game, (counting the three sacks of Pryor), and their former starting tailback Saine had no rushing attempts, as they worked him almost exclusively out of the slot. Dan Herron started the game at tailback and rushed 12 times for 68 yards and two rushing touchdowns, including a 39-yard dash off left tackle on the game's fourth play, and an 8-yard run off of a direct snap to close the OSU scoring.

Meanwhile Saine was thriving as a receiver, with a reception on a swing pass for 13 yards on the first OSU play, and then a 60-yard touchdown on a wheel route early in the second quarter. He finished with 84 yards on his four catches, and better yet, he may have found a new home as the Buckeyes' slot receiver.

You Asked For It

The nature of the rout also allowed those young running backs to get some field time, with Jordan Hall getting into the game in the first quarter, and Jaamal Berry and Carlos Hyde both seeing some action in the second half. Hyde got the most work, running nine times for 48 yards, and Berry chipped in 42 yards on five carries, including a nice 23-yard run. The score would have been in the 40's had Hyde not fumbled on the Indiana 2-yard line, but he ran hard and showed a brand of power the other OSU backs just don't have.

The blocking in the rushing game continues to be inconsistent, and there were six rushing plays in the first three quarters that went for one yard gain or less. But all along Terrelle Pryor was making the Hoosiers pay for loading up to stop the run by picking them apart with his arm. Take Pryor's sack numbers out of the rushing stats, and the four running backs averaged 5.9 yards per carry. It's hard to complain about numbers like that.

Defensive Consistency

After the game, Indiana coach Bill Lynch admitted, "We didn’t come in thinking we would be able to move the ball all over the place."  Good call, coach. The Buckeyes got great pressure on Chappell with their front four, and the Hoosier quarterback was rattled early and often. Ohio State DB's played a lot of press coverage on the IU wideouts, and allowed very little yardage after the catch.

Chappell went 16 for 26 passing, for just 106 yards before he was relieved with ten minutes left in the 4th quarter and the game long decided. OSU defensive linemen Nate Williams, Cam Heyward, John Simon and Dexter Larimore toyed with the IU offensive line, and when Chappell did connect on short completions, the Buckeye defenders came up and tackled well. Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa led the Buckeyes with seven tackles, and Brian Rolle, Jermale Hines and Nate Williams had five apiece.

Making matters even tougher for Indiana was the loss of two key offensive starters to injuries in practice this week. Their huge right tackle James Brewer and their top running back Darius Willis both had to sit this one out. That had to hurt, but the Hoosiers needed way more those two guys to compete.

All Lynch could really do afterward was tip his cap to the Buckeye defense..."The pressure they put on us with their front four gave us no time to throw. We knew we were going to have to play catch and throw to be successful. The problem is they don’t even have to blitz to get heavy pressure. They mixed up their coverage and they have a lot of talent."

Tressel_Indiana2"Time to think in the second half"

The occasion of his 100th victory as OSU coach had Jim Tressel reflecting about his late father, former Baldwin-Wallace coach Lee Tressel, and the strong bond the elder Tressel had with Ohio State. Asked after the game if he had thought about his dad as he won his 100th game at OSU, Tressel replied:

"You know, I thought a little bit about -- we had a lot of time to think in that second half, I was like, when's this going to be over...and I thought a little bit about the fact that my dad came here in 1943 and chose to, after spring ball, go serve his country.  And this was always his team, you know, no matter where he coached in high school or college, Ohio State was very special.  Paul Brown was very special to him for recruiting him here.  So I did reflect on that for a minute."

Tressel was, as usual, self-deprecating talking about No. 100. "'s exciting every time you win, and we've had a lot of awfully good players here and our coaching staff has been outstanding and a lot of those 100 wins have been here at home and we've got great fans, and so this is a place that if they let you stay long enough, you should win 100."

In the Big Ten history books, this will be called the Tressel Decade.

Who Wants to Be No. 1 in October?

So the Buckeyes now have they say...assume the position. Some of the Buckeye players have said they'd rather not be No. 1...and who can blame them. It means nothing in early October, except that if you keep winning, you have a better chance to play for the glass football than someone ranked 7th in October who keeps winning.

But other OSU players embrace the top ranking. It's what they expect. Tight end Jake Stoneburner said after the game "Well. Were ready for it...This what we came here for."

Are the Buckeyes the best team in the country? Or do they just happen to be ranked 1st at the moment?  There are sure to be legions of doubters as the topic is kicked around at water coolers and on the Family of Networks this week. Although Oregon and Boise St. are the only realistic threats to OSU's top ranking at the moment, Nebraska and TCU have a case to make too. Less so Auburn or Utah or LSU, I think.

Besides...who cares what "they" say?  "They" thought Alabama was invincible.

Wisconsin is next. And your intrepid TCF correspondent will be there among the cheeseheads to bring you the story.

This is getting interesting.



OSU - Game Story and Highlights

OSU - Official Box and Stats



Photo credits - Jim Davidson -

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