Ohio State aces hardest test

Lackluster Penn State, Iowa among few potential pitfalls for No. 1 team

National analysis

September 11, 2006|By Mike Huguenin | Mike Huguenin,ORLANDO SENTINEL

Last year at this time, everyone was singing the praises of Texas quarterback Vince Young after his Longhorns beat Ohio State.

Now it's Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith's turn.

Smith was marvelous in guiding Ohio State to a resounding 24-7 victory over the Longhorns on Saturday night. The result left no doubt the Buckeyes were No. 1.

Smith was 17-for-26 for 269 yards and two touchdowns as the Buckeyes rolled. He was 13-for-19 for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, then helped the Buckeyes control the ball and the clock in the second half.

"Troy Smith made play after play," Texas coach Mack Brown said.

When the season started, it was assumed Smith would have to make a lot of plays, especially early in the season, as the Buckeyes' defense jelled while nine new starters got acclimated. But going off Saturday's results, the Buckeyes may not have as tough a road as once expected. They host Cincinnati this week in a breather, then finish off the month by hosting No. 25 Penn State and traveling to No. 16 Iowa.

Penn State, to be kind, looked bad in getting routed by Notre Dame on Saturday. And Iowa, to be kind, looked bad in needing overtime to win at Syracuse on Saturday. Granted, the Hawkeyes were without starting quarterback Drew Tate, but come on - Syracuse is terrible.

Ohio State plays at Michigan State on Oct. 14 and the season-ender in Columbus against No. 11 Michigan on Nov. 18, but the rest of the games are against Bowling Green and the usual flotsam and jetsam that is the second division of the Big Ten.

In other words, unless the Buckeyes implode or Tate or Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton plays the game of his life, the Buckeyes will be 12-0 and packing for Phoenix on the night of Nov. 18.

As for Texas, Brown said his Longhorns "didn't make the plays we needed to make."

That's true. And it didn't help that the Longhorns were without star cornerback Tarell Brown, who was suspended for the game after being arrested last Monday. At the same time, the Longhorns played it mighty close to the vest offensively. Yes, redshirt freshman quarterback Colt McCoy was making just his second career start, and Longhorns coaches obviously didn't want to put the game in his hands. But, still, throw the ball downfield a few times - if for no other reason than to show you can do it.

Unless Texas gets a little more imaginative on offense, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Longhorns lose one or two more games.

A tale of two QBs

It was a good weekend for quarterbacks Tyler Palko of the University of Pittsburgh and Luke Getsy of Akron.

Palko threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns - giving him six touchdowns and one interception in two games - as the Panthers hammered Cincinnati, 33-15, Friday night. Getsy was just 12-for-31 but threw for 243 yards in guiding the Zips to a 20-17 upset at North Carolina State on Saturday.

After N.C. State took a 17-14 lead with 1:07 left, Getsy marched the Zips 67 yards to the winning score, which came on the last play of the game on a 1-yard run by Dennis Kennedy. Kennedy ran for 117 yards and scored all three Akron touchdowns.

"Knowing we needed the field goal [to force overtime] meant we didn't put as much pressure on ourselves to get the touchdown," Getsy said. "So we didn't force anything and we executed better than we did earlier in the half."

Getsy is at Akron only because Palko is the starter at Pittsburgh. They dueled for the starting job in 2004, with Palko beating out Getsy. Getsy decided to transfer to Akron - coached by former Panthers assistant J.D. Brookhart - but then-Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris refused to release Getsy from his scholarship, meaning he had to pay his own way.

Getsy sat out the '04 season, then lit it up for Akron last season, throwing for 3,455 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Palko had a superb '04 season (3,067 yards, 24 TDs) but struggled mightily last season (2,392, 17 TDs), his first under Dave Wannstedt after Harris left for Stanford. But Palko seems to understand Wannstedt's offense much better this season and could be in line for some big numbers.

AA-list celebrities

Another BCS-league team was upset by a Division I-AA team Saturday, with New Hampshire doing the honors against Northwestern.

Three BCS-league teams have lost to I-AA foes this season; Colorado (to Montana State) and Duke (Richmond) lost in Week 1. That means I-AA teams have as many wins as non-BCS, Division I-A teams have over BCS programs this season. Akron (over N.C. State), San Jose State (35-34 over Stanford on Saturday) and Boise State (42-14 over Oregon State on Thursday) are the non-BCS schools with wins.

Bottom feeding

Born to lose? Temple fell, 62-0, to Louisville on Saturday. It was the Owls' 14th loss in a row and the 37th in their past 41 games. It also was the fifth time the Owls allowed at least 60 points in their past 29 games.

At least the Owls have scored three points this season. Mississippi State has been shut out twice and is the only I-A team that's scoreless.

Mike Huguenin writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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