COLUMBUS - With its offense struggling to mount any kind of consistent scoring threat, No. 3 Ohio State had to rely on its most dependable faction - that rugged defense - to scratch out an otherwise ugly 26-14 win over Ohio University here yesterday.
The Buckeyes intercepted four passes and recovered a fumble, frequently giving that often-inept offensive unit a significant field position advantage.
"I guess the defense bailed us out a few times," Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman said.
Ohio State's first points of the day - a 27-yard Ryan Pretorius field goal - came after defensive end Lawrence Wilson batted an Ohio pass into the air, caught it on the way down and took the interception back 24 yards.
Malcolm Jenkins had an interception in the second quarter to stop an OU possession, Shaun Lane recovered a fumble to set the Buckeyes up at Ohio's 25, leading to the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, and James Laurinaitis picked off another pass on the following series, keeping the momentum in Ohio State's hands.
"Our defense came up big today," Ohio State sophomore receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said. "They got the turnovers and picked us up when we really needed it."
As Ohio was hurriedly moving down the field in the game's closing minutes, Anderson Russell intercepted a pass to stop the threat.
"They have a great defense," Ohio head coach Frank Solich said. "You know you have your hands full with that in mind. We knew it was going to take a good effort on both sides of the ball to make it close."
BEANIE BALL: Injured Ohio State junior tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells was not in uniform for yesterday's game, but that did not prevent him from taking an active role in the team's halftime deliberations. Wells gave the Buckeyes a passionate halftime pep talk after they came into the locker room trailing Ohio 7-6.
"Beanie was pretty fired up, and he was just telling the guys to not get down on themselves and to get ready to go back out there and fight in the second half," Boeckman said. "Beanie can be pretty vocal when he's got something on his mind."
DANE'S DAY: Ohio State sophomore wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher from Central Catholic had four receptions for 32 yards. Sanzenbacher had a critical 12-yard catch on a third-and-11 play from the OU 26 on the final play of the third quarter, with the Buckeyes trailing 14-12. Ohio State scored three plays later to take the lead for good.
"It felt good to get that one and keep the drive going - we really needed to get some rhythm offensively," Sanzenbacher said. "We struggled today, and I think a lot of it was just poor execution. The plays we ran weren't necessarily bad calls. It was a lot of poor execution."
800 WINS: The victory, before 102,002 fans, provided Ohio State's program with its 800th win, making the Buckeyes just the fifth major college team to hit that number.
"I wasn't exactly sure what all the prior 799 wins looked like, but we're still proud to get number 800 for Ohio State," OSU coach Jim Tressel said. "It's quite a privilege to be on the field when that occurs."
Linebacker Curtis Terry did not let the less-than-stellar performance tarnish the moment.
"It is phenomenal what this football program has accomplished, and being a part of it is an honor," Terry said.39.96196 -83.00298