COLUMBUS - The "O" is missing from Ohio State's
Perhaps coach Jim Tressel will locate it someday soon on the side of a milk carton.
The Buckeyes have plenty of offensive weapons, but all they seem to do is shoot themselves in the foot.
The red zone has become their danger zone. Forget about Tressel Ball, this is Boring Ball.
Six times yesterday Ohio State's offense had the football inside San Diego State's 20-yard line - never traveling far to get there.
But the bumbling Buckeyes came away with just three touchdowns and a field goal in their 27-6 victory.
Another series ended with a Brandon Schnittker fumble at the 1-yard line, and the game finished with OSU in red-zone territory at the Aztecs' 12.
The Buckeyes' three touchdown drives covered 20 yards, 32 yards and about four inches.
Ohio State's offense was downright offensive.
It was an embarrassing, lackluster effort against a San Diego State team that had allowed 85 points the first two weeks and ranked 82nd in the country in total defense.
"Coach Tressel asked us in the locker room how we thought we did offensively and a couple of guys said D or D-plus," receiver Santonio Holmes said.
Through three games, the Buckeyes are seeing red when it comes to the red zone.
They have managed just five touchdowns and six field goals in 14 opportunities.
"I thought we did a little better today, but I don't think we're anywhere near where we need to be in the red zone," Tressel said.
Tressel and offensive coordinator Jim Bollman are to blame for the Buckeyes' not-so-flashy offense.
On more than one occasion yesterday, their decision-
making left many scratching their heads.
Early in the second quarter, with OSU on top 7-6, Tressel sent Schnittker into the game in place of starting tailback Antonio Pittman, although Schnittker had just nine carries in his four-year OSU career.
Schnittker took the handoff from quarterback Troy Smith, lunged for the goal line, but he lost the football.
Early in the third quarter, the Buckeyes were faced with a fourth-and-4 from the Aztecs' 7.
Smith considered just one option and tried to force a pass to Anthony Gonzalez, who was triple-covered in the end zone.
On the last play of the third quarter, the Aztecs muffed an option pitch on first down at their 7. That miscue set up OSU's final touchdown, a one-yard dive by Schnittker.
Smith, making his first start of the season, passed for 149 yards and rushed for 87 more, mostly on quarterback draws, and two touchdowns.
Seldom-used Roy Hall was the top receiver with four catches for 44 yards.
Holmes had four catches. Ted Ginn Jr., considered a Heisman Trophy candidate when the season began, also touched the ball just four times on offense, and Pittman produced only 58 yards rushing.
"We think we have a lot of guys on offense that can help us win," Tressel said. "And as we grow to understand how we can attack and when they do this, we can do that and so forth, I'd like to think we could become a dangerous offense."
With Big Ten play set to begin, it is an offense that is in danger of not scaring anyone.