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Published: Sunday, 10/1/2006

Ohio State bashes Iowa

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

IOWA CITY - The Ohio State Buckeyes were supposed to come in here last night and be simply bedazzled.

They were supposed to lose sight of their mission while playing in a blinding sea of gold, after being sequestered before the game in a nauseating world of pink.

Color Iowa the one truly blue after Ohio State pounded the Hawkeyes 38-17 in a showdown of unbeaten Big Ten teams.

The No. 13 Hawkeyes had called for a massive showing of the colors since the No. 1 Buckeyes were coming to town. The faithful complied, and 90 percent of the 70,000 fans in Kinnick Stadium were decked out in bright Iowa gold.

Before entering that mesmerizing blur of bullion, Ohio State had to first deal with the notorious visitors locker room at Iowa - the largest concentration of the color pink outside of an Owens Corning showroom. Pink walls, pink carpet, pink lockers, and even pink urinals.

The pink locker room was the brain child of former Iowa head coach Hayden Fry, a psychology major who theorized that the color pink had a calming and passive effect on people, thus neutralizing the opposition.

The Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) were expected to emerge from that pink chamber listless and without spirit. The gold throng filling the stadium was then supposed to leave them dazed, unable to function.

But the only ones awestruck on this evening were the Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-1) - who saw their perfect record dyed in a crush of scarlet, gray and white scoring.

Iowa, which lost at home for just the second time in its last 27 games, was unable to contain Ohio State tailback Antonio Pittman, unsuccessful in attempting to pressure quarterback Troy Smith, and uncertain just what to do with wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez.

"We handled the adversity of playing in a tough environment today," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "Now, how we handle being successful with that 5-0 start is the question. We're very capable."

Pittman repeatedly froze Iowa defenders with his lateral moves, and then let his forward progress lead to his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season.

Smith had Iowa so conscious of his ability to run that the Hawkeyes hardly laid a hand on him.

And while Iowa set up a virtual picket fence to keep speedster Ted Ginn Jr. from breaking a big play, Gonzalez made them blush with his 30-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter that essentially put Ohio State in control for good. Gonzalez reversed his field, made a long loop running away from the end zone, and then picked up a block as he squeezed down the sideline for the score.

"This is not an easy place to walk into as the visitor," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "We got beat by a very, very good football team. You can't make the errors we made against a team as talented as Ohio State."

The Buckeyes stuffed Iowa on the game's opening possession, then moved down a short field to take a 7-0 lead. An 11-yard reception by Ginn, after which he recovered his own fumble, and a 20-yard run by Pittman started the drive. After Smith missed Gonzalez over the middle from the Iowa 12-yard line, the two made it work on the next play for the touchdown. Aaron Pettrey then kicked the first of his five extra points.

The Hawkeyes put together a 14-play scoring drive to pull within 7-3 on a 32-yard field goal by Kyle Schlicher.

The Ohio State defense set up a quick score early in the second quarter as safety Brandon Mitchell stepped in front of Iowa's Herb Grigsby near midfield and returned the interception to the 30.

A 23-yard burst by Pittman - who had 117 yards on 25 carries - on second down was followed by his four-yard run around end where he went in untouched for the score and a 14-3 advantage for the Buckeyes.

Before the first half ended, Iowa did something no team had done to Ohio State this season - scored on a running play. The Hawkeyes got two big carries from Damian Sims, then a 15-yard touchdown run from Albert Young, the first allowed by the Buckeyes this year. That cut the Ohio State lead to 14-10.

The Buckeyes pushed the lead to 21-10 by the half, pounding the ball at Iowa with freshman Chris Wells gaining 33 yards on three carries, and Pittman picking up another 19.

From the 6-yard line, Smith threw a bullet to Roy Hall on the edge of the end zone, Hall's first touchdown since the second game of the 2004 season.

Ohio State drove 80 yards with the opening kickoff of the second half to extend the lead to 28-10. Smith hit Ginn three times on the drive, and Pittman did the ground work. The nifty TD catch-and-run by Gonzalez completed the drive.

After Pettrey extended the lead to 31-10 with a 36-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, Iowa added a touchdown on a quick drive to grab some momentum with 13 minutes left.

Ohio State's Mitchell helped quell the threat by falling on an Iowa fumble near midfield with just under nine minutes to play.

Ohio State put the game away when Marcus Freeman tipped and then intercepted an Iowa pass with 6:22 left, setting the Buckeyes up at the Hawkeyes 14. Brian Robiskie caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Smith - his third of the game - with 4:23 to play to finish the scoring.

Contact Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6510.



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