COLUMBUS — Ohio University and Ohio State are so close — neighbors separated by only 66 miles of stop-light speckled highway. They share the same climate, the same first name, and a chunk of the taxpayer pie.
But toss the geographic link and the other common threads, since after Saturday it is apparent they play football in two different cosmos.
The No. 2-ranked Buckeyes forced five turnovers, smothered the Bobcats for most of the game, and scored on their first six possessions. They also played without a penalty while dominating Ohio 43-7.
Ohio State junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor was precise and proficient from the start, connecting on 16 straight passes at one point, scrambling in for a touchdown, and throwing for a couple more. Ohio State had 439 yards of offense and allowed the Bobcats just 158, and more than two-thirds of Ohio's total came in the second half with the Buckeyes clearing the bench.
Ohio coach Frank Solich put the chasm between his team and the Buckeyes into perspective following what he called “a long afternoon.”
“Ohio State has a championship caliber football team. I felt that coming in and I feel that coming out,” Solich said.
“We had to play perfect football, execute well, play penalty free, and win the turnover battle, none of which got done today. Ohio State has a good running game, throwing game, and a good scramble game. That's tough to defend against.”
Ohio contributed to making its afternoon long and difficult from the start, as quarterback Phil Bates had his pass toward the sideline tipped by Devon Torrence then intercepted by Tyler Moeller at the Bobcats 31-yard line on the second play of the game. Pryor hit tight end Jake Stoneburner for 13 yards before the Buckeyes stalled and settled for a 32-yard field goal from Devin Barclay.
The Buckeyes got the ball back via a punt just three downs later and drove to the Ohio nine, where Pryor hit Brandon Saine over the middle just inside the end zone. The touchdown and Barclay kick gave the Buckeyes a 10-0 lead with about six minutes left in the opening quarter.
Pryor scrambled out of the pocket and scored on a 13-yard run to push the lead to 17-0 before the end of the first period. A 33-yard field goal by Barclay gave the Buckeyes a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter, and following that a fumble recovery by Nathan Williams put the Buckeyes in motion at the Ohio 33.
After a 21-yard sideline reception by Dane Sanzenbacher, Pryor hit Stoneburner with a five-yard scoring pass two plays later, and the lead hit 27-0.
“We were clicking on all cylinders the first half,” Stoneburner said. “We were moving the ball easily, Terrelle was throwing well, we were blocking well, and everyone was catching it. It seemed like everything clicked.”
The Buckeyes led 34-0 at the half after converting following another Ohio turnover. This score came on the first of two short touchdown runs by Dan Herron.
Cameron Heyward had a fumble recovery to set up the first Herron touchdown and then tackled Ohio's Vince Davidson in the end zone for a safety that stretched the lead to 36-0. OSU got the ball back after the safety, and drove down for Herron's second score and a 43-0 lead. Ohio got its only touchdown on a short pass with six minutes left in the game.
Ohio had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, that would have given the Bobcats the early lead, called back because of an illegal block penalty, and the Buckeyes had a punt blocked that set up Ohio at the OSU 27. Just two plays after the blocked punt, the Ohio State defense had the ball back via a fumble recovery.
“It's a sudden change situation, and it's kind of one of our goals as a defense that anytime something like that happens, we always come out on the ball, huddle up, get the call, and then kind of settle down and just play,” said senior linebacker Ross Homan, who had an interception, forced fumble, and led OSU with seven tackles.
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said that while his team's performance was far from flawless, he wanted to make sure the Buckeyes celebrated being 3-0 after a big win at home.
“Everything that didn't go well detracts from it. The victory's good, but okay, now with that aside, you evaluate every play,” he said. “But you know, it's hard to not feel good about a win. I didn't want those guys down there in that locker room feeling as if it's not fun to hear that [victory] bell ringing.”
Contact Matt Markey at:email@example.com 419-724-6510.