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Buckeyes notebook: Orange Bowl eyeing Ohio State


Ohio State football players celebrate with their fans after yesterday's last-minute victory against the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.


ANN ARBOR - As Ohio State coach Jim Tressel faced a battalion of television cameras in his postgame news conference following yesterday's 25-21 win over Michigan, two men in bright orange sport coats stood in the back of the room, with arms folded and smiles on their faces.

The Miami-based Orange Bowl had its emissaries at the showdown of the Big Ten powerhouses, window-shopping for a potential participant in their Jan. 3, 2006 game that is part of the prestigious and lucrative Bowl Championship Series.

While being intentionally vague about just who might ultimately get the call, Orange Bowl representative Albert Dotson Sr. said there is a lot to like about the Buckeyes, winners of their final six games.

"It would be really premature to say what will happen since there is a lot of football still to be played all around the country," Dotson said, "but Ohio State has won out, and certainly made a case for themselves."

The official BCS bowl invitations won't come out until Dec. 4, and only a couple bids are in play for an at-large team like Ohio State.

By nature of its 31-22 win over Michigan State last night, Penn State tied the Buckeyes for the Big Ten title, but earned the league's automatic BCS bid by beating Ohio State this season.

"Ohio State is attractive for any bowl, with their huge fan following and their great tradition," Dotson said. "But with only two bids out there, it would be really hard to put a place for anybody right now. We'll have to let things play out."

TRESSEL'S MAGIC: Tressel beat Michigan for the fourth time in five games, and becomes the first Buckeyes' coach since Francis Schmidt to turn that trick.

Schmidt won over Michigan from 1934-37 before losing in 1938. Tressel is 49-13 at Ohio State, and 30-10 in the Big Ten.

CARPENTER OUT: On the first defensive series of yesterday's 25-21 win over Michigan, Ohio State lost senior linebacker Bobby Carpenter for the game - and maybe for the bowl game

Carpenter, who sometimes lines up at defensive end and rushes the quarterback, hobbled off the field with a leg injury with more than eight minutes to play in the first quarter following Michigan's first offensive play of the day.

Carpenter squared off with Michigan's 6-7, 330-pound offensive tackle Jake Long, and as Carpenter set his feet, Long surged forward and twisted him to the turf.

"I saw him limp off the field, and I knew it was bad," fellow linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "It was tough to lose him because he's such a great player. A guy that big and physical makes things happen, so it's tough, but we knew he wanted us to keep going."

Carpenter returned to the Ohio State locker room, then was back on the sideline with crutches and with his lower right leg in a protective boot. Ohio State officials said Carpenter suffered a fracture of his fibula.

DECAL HONOR: The Ohio State players wore "RM" decals about the size of a Buckeye leaf on their helmets yesterday to honor former Buckeyes wrestler Ray Mendoza.

A Marine Corps major, Mendoza was killed in action in Iraq earlier this week and is believed to be the first former Ohio State athlete to die in the campaign. A 1995 graduate, Mendoza was runner-up as a heavyweight in the 1993 Big Ten championships and was serving his third tour of duty in Iraq.

EXTRA POINTS: Ohio State kicker Josh Huston, who hit all 39 of his extra-point kicks this season prior to yesterday's game at Michigan, missed his first kick against the Wolverines. Huston, a Findlay native, had field goals of 47 and 25 yards in the game, and converted his only other point-after attempt. ... Senior Anthony Schlegel led the Buckeyes with 10 tackles. Senior linebacker A.J. Hawk had seven tackles in his final regular season game, and finished with 109 - his third consecutive season with more than 100 tackles. His 382 career tackles rank sixth in Ohio State history.

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