3:30 PM ET, October 7, 2006
Ohio Stadium, COLUMBUS, OH
Smith tossed three touchdown passes -- including a 57-yard lightning strike to high school teammate Ginn-- to lead No. 1 Ohio State to a 35-7 victory over Bowling Green on Saturday.
"There's always something special about playing with a childhood friend," said Smith, who didn't do anything to hurt his Heisman Trophy candidacy by completing 17-of-20 passes for 191 yards with no interceptions. "Especially here at this level."
The Buckeyes (6-0) toyed with the Falcons (3-3), tacking on two touchdowns in the final quarter to turn a surprisingly close 21-7 game into a rout. Ohio State stretched the nation's longest winning streak to 13 in a row.
The game was the first of six against teams who have each lost at least twice. The Buckeyes, who play at disappointing Michigan State next week, were a prohibitive favorite.
"When there's 105,000 out there, it doesn't matter who the opponent is," said defensive lineman Joel Penton, talking about packed Ohio Stadium.
Smith's touchdowns covered 3 yards to Rory Nichol and 11 to Ray Small in addition to the long one to Ginn. His 85-percent completion rate was the third best ever for an Ohio State quarterback.
Antonio Pittman carried 13 times for 61 yards, scoring on two 8-yard runs.
Early in the fourth quarter, Ginn got a rare chance to return a punt -- the Falcons punted out of bounds rather than give up a big return -- and brought it back 21 yards to the Ohio State 43. On the next play, Smith dropped back in the pocket and fired to Ginn, who had streaked past defender Antonio Smith to catch the ball at the 7, racing in the rest of the way untouched.
"I saw the guy playing off me. He had been playing off me all night," the speedy Ginn said.
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said the bomb should serve as a warning to future opponents.
"We had a couple of home run opportunities in the last couple games and didn't connect," he said. "People need to know that we're going to go deep."
Ginn caught a career-high 10 passes for 122 yards. The 57-yard score was the junior's 18th career play covering at least 50 yards. He has caught eight passes of 50 or more yards, all from Smith.
Asked how he would defend against Ginn, Smith smiled and said, "If I was a defensive back, I'd just stay deeper than the deepest. He'll run past you in the blink of an eye."
It didn't take long for Ohio State to show its superiority over its in-state rivals, scoring on three of their first four possessions.
"Sometimes when you go down and score early in games like this, you lose a bit of your edge," Tressel said.
Smith's 3-yard touchdown pass to Nichol got the scoring started.
The Falcons took over and drove to a first down at the Ohio State 34. But the Falcons' 50-yard field-goal attempt by Sean Ellis' was blocked by Kurt Coleman.
"I just didn't want to punt it. I wanted to get some points and that was probably a bad decision on my part," Bowling Green coach Gregg Brandon said.
The Buckeyes made the most of that turnover by methodically slicing through the Falcons. On third-and-26 at the Bowling Green 42, Smith dropped the snap out of the shotgun formation, then picked it up and had to avoid a tackler at left end. Smith cut across the grain, racing to the right corner for a 34-yard gain.
On the next play, Pittman skirted left end for the first of his first score.
Bowling Green turned it over again on its next possession, with lineman Vernon Gholston grabbing a tipped pass at the Falcons 21.
Three plays later, Pittman sidestepped a tackler at the goal line to make it 21-0.
The crowd booed loudly each time Bowling Green's Alonso Rojas -- a rugby-style kicker -- punted out of bounds to avoid putting the ball in Ginn's hands.
"It's like a war and you just give up ground," Brandon said. "We just gave up too much ground, but their weapons create that."
Anthony Turner completed 16-of-24 passes for 179 yards with one interception. He hooked up with Corey Partridge for a 7-yard TD in the third quarter.
After a tough first month of the season, in which Ohio State beat three ranked foes, October started with a matter-of-fact win.
"I think today was worthwhile, but not wonderful," Tressel said.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... They dotted the "i". Ohio State cleaned up against Bowling Green, scoring three straigh touchdowns to end the first half 21-0.
Gameball goes to... Troy Smith. The Heisman hopeful led the Buckeyes with 192 yards and three TDs on nearly perfect passing (17-for-20).
Stat of the game... 120: After three straight games with less than 70 yards receiving, Ted Ginn Jr. came up with a big day -- 122 receiving yards on 10 catches.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-14||7-12|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||1-3|
|TD||11:09||RORY NICOL 3 YD PASS FROM TROY SMITH (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 64 yards.
|TD||3:51||ANTONIO PITTMAN 8 YD RUN (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 67 yards.
|TD||12:13||ANTONIO PITTMAN 8 YD RUN (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 21 yards.
|TD||6:21||COREY PARTRIDGE 12 YD PASS FROM ANTHONY TURNER (SEAN ELLIS KICK)|
Drive info: 15 plays, 85 yards.
|TD||14:03||RAY SMALL 11 YD PASS FROM TROY SMITH (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 14 plays, 70 yards.
|TD||12:13||TED GINN JR. 57 YD PASS FROM TROY SMITH (AARON PETTREY KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 57 yards.