Buckeyes' D, Tech's O steal the show

Originally Published: September 19, 2004
By Brad Edwards | Special to ESPN.com

It might never reach the same level as "death and taxes," but "Ohio State finding a way to win football games" continues to climb the ladder of things we can count on.

Ohio State's dominating defense carried the Buckeyes to yet another close win.
With seven turnovers and no takeaways in their first two games, many of us wondered if the Buckeyes had what it would take to win a road game against a very stingy NC State defense. OSU, of course, found a way. Woody Hayes would have been appalled by the mere 137 yards of offense the Buckeyes managed in four quarters, but he would have been thrilled by the way they controlled field position and won the turnover battle by a plus-4 margin. Ohio State grabbed three interceptions and two fumbles, managing to convert them into 16 points. It was enough for an eight-point victory on Saturday, extending OSU's record to an amazing 15-1 in "one-possession games" (decided by eight points or fewer) since the start of 2002.

Drew Drops In End Zone
Gaining yardage might not have been an easy task for the Buckeyes, but it was a walk in the park for UCLA's Maurice Drew. More accurately, it was a stroll through Husky Stadium. Drew gained more yards (169) and scored more touchdowns (3) in the first quarter against Washington than six Division I-A teams -- Ohio State, Iowa, Marshall, New Mexico, Akron and Ball State -- did all day. Drew finished the game with a school-record 322 rushing yards and tied a Pac-10 record with five touchdowns.

Offensive Explosion
Equally explosive was the Texas Tech offense on Saturday, although the Red Raiders didn't exactly have that first-quarter burst. Tech was held scoreless for the first 23 minutes of its game against TCU (and trailed 21-0) before running up 56 unanswered points and scoring 70 in all. The Raiders had been held under 30 points in each of their first two games this season, but coach Mike Leach expressed confidence last week that the many yards his offense was gaining would finally translate into points. Boy, was he right! Texas Tech's final 55 offensive plays against TCU resulted in nine touchdowns, after their previous 209 offensive plays of the season had found the end zone just seven times.

Despite being the nation's No. 12 scoring offense with more than 40 points per game, Texas Tech is only the fourth-highest scoring team in the Big 12 South. One of the teams ahead of the Red Raiders is Oklahoma State, which has lit up the scoreboard with play selection as unbalanced as any team in the country. Through three games, the Cowboys have run the ball 181 times and thrown it just 31 times. What in the name of Rashaun Woods is going on in Stillwater? Of course, when you're rushing for 334 yards per game, who really cares?

All Hands On Deck

Lasting Impressions
College GameDay Final's Trev Alberts, Mark May and Rece Davis weigh in with their biggest impressions from Saturday's action.

Trev's Take
Trev AlbertsBecause of a lack of experience at quarterback, the Big Ten is really looking like an average conference. The top teams haven't been able to showcase their talent at the skill positions, mainly because the quarterbacks are so limited in what they can do right now. Kyle Orton is the only QB in the league who can run an offense without strings attached, and that's why Purdue looks like the best team in the Big Ten right now.

Mark's Take
Mark MayMemo to kickers: Stop missing extra points! Your linemen would be happy to explain why it would be in your best interest.

Rece's Take
Rece DavisI was very surprised at the lack of discretion shown by the officials in key situations near the ends of games. They threw some flags that were legitimate by the book, but referees should not be deciding the outcomes of games with calls that aren't necessary -- just like you don't want to see a cheap foul called in the final 30 seconds of a basketball game. If a player isn't gaining a competitive advantage with an infraction at the end of a close game, I'd like to see them let it go and let the players decide the game on the field.
Speaking of running the ball and running it well, Navy is 3-0 for the first time since 1979. We've spent a lot of time talking about potential "BCS Busters" and teams that could make a run at an undefeated season, but we haven't included the Midshipmen in that discussion. Maybe it's time we should. The Mids are clearly BCS longshots because of their schedule, but that same schedule gives them a chance to be one of the great stories of the 2004 season. On paper, their toughest games are a trip to Air Force and a neutral-site meeting with Notre Dame. The fact that Notre Dame has beaten them 40 straight times just makes the story potentially that much better.

Maine Attraction
It may not have any "BCS Busters," and it may not be making as much noise as the MAC did at this time last year, but Division I-AA's Atlantic 10 Conference has certainly made its presence felt among the major conferences this season. Two weeks ago, William & Mary led North Carolina in the fourth quarter. Last week, New Hampshire beat Rutgers. This past weekend, Maine knocked off Mississippi State. Interestingly, those schools all finished in the middle of the pack in last season's conference standings. The champion was Delaware, which went on to win the I-AA national title.

Book 'Em
Finally, congratulations to a few players who now hold school records at some pretty significant programs. Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards passed Marquise Walker to own the most career catches by a Wolverine. Mark Clayton now has the same record at Oklahoma to add to the marks he already owns for receiving yards and touchdowns. Zach Mills moved past Tony Sacca on Penn State's all-time passing yards list, and Andrew Walter vaulted over Jake Plummer with the most TD passes in Arizona State history.

Helmet Stickers
Mark:
Devin Hester, Miami-- two punt return TDs vs. Louisiana Tech.
Darren Sproles, K-State -- 292 rushing yards vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, breaking his own school record.

Trev:
Mike Nugent, Ohio State -- made all five FG attempts vs. NC State
Tom Zbikowski, Notre Dame -- INT and 2 forced fumbles (returned one for TD) vs. Michigan State.
Andrew Walter, Arizona State -- 428 passing yards, 5 TD vs. Iowa.

Rece:
Maurice Drew, UCLA -- 322 rushing yards, 5 TD vs. Washington (both school records).
Jarrett Hicks, Texas Tech -- 8 catches, 211 yards, TD vs. TCU.

Brad Edwards is the research coordinator for College GameDay Final and is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. College GameDay Final airs during the season at Midnight ET.

• Analyzes college football and the CFB Playoff as part of ESPN's Stats & Information Group
• Analyst for both College GameDay on ESPN Radio and the ESPN College Football app

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