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Published: Sunday, 10/22/2006

Smith hits the books as well as opponents

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

COLUMBUS - Although Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith is receiving plenty of props for his role in leading the Buckeyes in their quest for a national championship, another Smith on the other side of the ball may garner the most respect from his OSU teammates and coach Jim Tressel.

That is fifth-year senior cornerback Antonio Smith, whose true calling lies within the academic realm at OSU.

An engineering major from nearby Beechcroft High School in Columbus, Smith, a genuine scholar-athlete, puts his demanding course load first. He had attended Ohio State on an academic scholarship until this season, his first as a starter and on athletic aid.

Yesterday, the 5-9, 195-pounder - who plays much bigger than those physical dimensions - had his best game as a collegian.

Smith topped the Buckeyes with 12 tackles, including 11 solo stops. He mixed in a couple huge hits while recording a 10-yard sack of Hoosier QB Kellen Lewis, plus three other tackles for losses totaling 12 yards.

"It seemed like every time I looked up he was making a hit in the backfield," Tressel said. "He's such a smart player. He's an amazing person. I don't know how many people quite like him you get to be around in your life. Just the character and the sacrifice he makes.

"He comes dragging into the Woody Hayes [Center] about an hour late every day and makes up the film time because he was in lab or whatever it happened to be, and he [still] knows things inside and out. He's just a special human being and you appreciate it when good things happen to good people."

TOSSIN' TEDDY: Like most supremely gifted athletes, Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr., a likely All-American selection at wide receiver, fancies himself a quarterback on occasion.

He got the chance to test his arm yesterday on a reverse pass, which went for 38 yards and a touchdown to tight end Rory Nicol 5:56 into the third quarter of OSU's comfortable win.

"It felt great," Ginn said. "It is something we have had in the playbook for a while and, when we put it in the package this week, I got really excited. When I got the ball I just wanted to throw a good ball and put it in the right spot like Troy [Smith] does."

Ginn "added" five catches for 72 yards, including a 31-yard TD catch.

"We try to come up with trick plays, and we've been practicing, and practicing, and practicing [Ginn's reverse pass play], and watching duck, after duck, after duck," Smith joked. "Today, after I carried out the fake, I turned around and saw a perfect spiral. He always said, if he got the chance, he was going to throw a touchdown."

"He campaigns all the time to throw," Tressel said of Ginn.

"He thinks he should be lined up in the gun throwing the ball."

ODDS & ENDS: Ohio State's current 15-game winning streak is the third longest in school history. The Buckeyes won 22 in row (1967-69) sandwiched around their 1968 national championship season, and 19 straight starting with their 14-0 national title run in 2002 and 8-0 start in '03. ... OSU is now 59-8-1 when ranked as the nation's No. 1 team. ... The Buckeyes are 291-68-9 when carrying a top-10 ranking.

... With the win, Ohio State holds a 65-12-5 all-time record versus Indiana, and Tressel is 6-0 against the Hoosiers. ... The Buckeyes' 540 yards of offense yesterday represented the fifth time in eight games this season they have topped 400 yards.



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