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Published: Sunday, 10/8/2006

OSU's Smith uses short field to thump BGSU

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Ohio State receiver Ray Small slips past Bowling Green's Jahmal Brown and into the end zone. Ohio State receiver Ray Small slips past Bowling Green's Jahmal Brown and into the end zone.
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COLUMBUS - A month before the football season started, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith was dressed in a suit and tie and sitting in front of a bouquet of microphones about 300 miles from here in downtown Chicago.

Smith made an off-the-cuff remark about his off-the-field ambitions - and Bowling Green should have been listening.

"Real estate is my dream. That's what I want to get into," said Smith, who has a degree in communications and is doing graduate work in his dream field.

Yesterday, Smith and the Buckeyes (6-0) gave the Falcons a stern lesson in the laws of the land while handing Bowling Green a 35-7 defeat. When you are playing the No. 1 team in the country, you don't surrender chunks of real estate without Ohio State exacting a stiff fee.

On numerous occasions, Bowling Green allowed the Buckeyes to play on a short, 50-yard field. The payment was quick and severe for Bowling Green's frequent field-position sins.

"It seemed like we were starting near the 50 all day, and the shorter the field you have to work with, the better," Ohio State center Doug Datish said. "Either our defense was setting us up with great field position, or we got it after punts and kickoffs. Either way, that's a risky thing to do with the kind of playmakers we have."

The Falcons (3-3) were trying to keep the ball away from those playmakers, kicking off short and punting out of bounds to avoid any returns by Ohio

State speedsters Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez. But the field position gains still had the Buckeyes knocking on the door time after time.

A squib kick let Ohio State start its first drive at the 36, and a touchdown quickly followed. Bowling Green then had a long field goal try blocked, setting the Buckeyes up near midfield again, and resulting in another short drive for a score. An interception on a tipped ball gave Ohio State possession at the BG 21, and another touchdown followed for a 21-0 lead at the half.

"It seemed like we had great field position all day, and that is something this offense will take advantage of for quick scores," said Ohio State tight end Rory Nicol, who scored the game's first touchdown on a three-yard pass from Troy Smith.

"When they punt the ball out of bounds or kick it short, it gets us thinking about scoring right away. We've got such dangerous guys back there, it's scary to think about letting them run it back, but the other option is giving us great field position - and we'll take it."

After Kurt Coleman of Ohio State blocked the Falcons' 50-yard field goal try midway through the first quarter, the Buckeyes looked stuck with a third-and-26 from the BG 42. But Smith collected a low snap that dribbled to him, stepped back, rolled to his left, then cut all the way back across the field to the right for a 34-yard gain - his longest run since a 46-yard carry against Michigan in 2004.

Tailback Antonio Pittman scored on the next play from eight yards out for a 14-0 lead.

Early in the second quarter, BG quarterback Anthony Turner tried to sidearm a pass to Chris Bullock, but Ohio State's Vernon Gholston intercepted the ball off Bullock's fingertips and set up the Buckeyes at the BG 21.

Passes to Ginn and Roy Hall moved the ball to the 8, where Pittman slipped a couple of tackles and rolled in for the score and a 21-0 Ohio State lead.

"When our defense wasn't getting us the ball, that was the strategy for Bowling Green, and that's the approach they chose - to sacrifice field position to prevent a return," Datish said. "It's a tough thing to do to your defense, to ask them to hold us time after time on a short field. But I don't think I'd kick to those guys, either."

BG coach Gregg Brandon said the field position advantage enjoyed by the Buckeyes had a major impact.

"It affected it a lot," Brandon said about his strategy of keeping the ball away from Ohio State's playmakers.

"It's like war, you just give up ground. We gave up too much land. But again, their weapons create that. You don't want to kick the ball to those guys."

The Falcons cut the Ohio State lead to 21-7 with a 15-play, 85-yard drive that opened the second half. Turner found Corey Partridge cutting across the end zone, and Partridge made a one-handed grab for the score.

The Buckeyes made it 28-7 early in the fourth quarter when Smith found freshman Ray Small in the red zone, and Small outran the BG defense 11 yards for a touchdown. Following a Bowling Green punt that Ginn took back 21 yards to near midfield, Smith showed Bowling Green the acceleration clause when dealing with the Buckeyes as he hit Ginn with a 57-yard bomb on first down to make the margin 35-7.

"Anytime you can strike through the air like that, I was especially pleased with it," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "We need people to know that we're going to go deep. People need to know that's part of who we are."

Contact Matt Markey at:

mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.



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