The opening half wasn't easy on the eyes but the Buckeyes rebounded in the second, scoring 24 straight points en route to a 33-14 road victory over Washington in front the third largest crowd ever in Husky Stadium. The win was the 200th of The Vest's career and marked the 21st consecutive regular season win for OSU, tying the school record set back in '67-'69.
The Buckeyes let Washington hang around in the first half due to poor QB play, penalties and shoddy special teams resulting in a 7-3 halftime deficit. Todd Boeckman was either rattled or huffing glue on his way to completing only 7 of his 15 first half passes including two that should have been intercepted. His first half performance was matched by the special teams as PK Ryan Pretorious missed a 44 yarder on the opening drive and had a 32 yarder blocked while the longsnappers took turns shooting short hops to either the holder or punter AJ Trapasso. The blocked FG was set up by an illegal procedure call on 4th and 1 at the UW 10 yard line as Ben Person clearly moved early to pull on the play that would've resulted in a Beanie Wells TD run. The icing on the stank cake known as the first half was a 9 play, 85 yard drive on the defense culminated by a 23 yard TD pass from Jake Locker to Anthony Russo giving Washington momentum and a 7-3 lead at intermission.
It appeared the Huskies had seized the momentum but the game turned in OSU's favor on Washington's first drive of the 2nd half. Locker led his offense to the Buckeye 19 yard line but the defense stiffened forcing three straight negative yardage plays and a blocked FG attempt giving OSU the ball at its own 29. After a first down run, Todd Boeckman hit Brian Robiskie in stride for a 68 yard TD pass to start the onslaught. Husky Curtis Shaw then fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the 25 yard line setting up Beanie Wells' 14 yard TD run giving OSU a 17-7 lead 6 minutes into the 3rd quarter. The defense took over from there forcing three 3-and-outs and grabbing 2 INTs in Washington's final 5 drives preceding a cheap TD drive in the last two minutes. Tressel was clearly annoyed that Ty Willingham was throwing passes after Tressel had called off the dogs running Antonio Henton three straight times on the drive before so he turned Brandon Saine loose on the final play of the game resulting in a 37 yard TD.
Apparently tired of taking heat, the offensive line simply overpowered the Husky defense creating gaps the size of Paris Hilton's allowing the RBs to get to the second line of defense unimpeded. The result was 263 total rushing yards on 46 carries equating to a healthy 5.7 yards per carry. In addition to Beanie's 135 yards, Brandon Saine tallied 83 on just 9 carries including bursts of 28 and 37. You gotta like the way in which Beanie and Saine's styles play off each other. Wells can wear down a defense with punishing runs softening it up for Saine's quickness. If the line can duplicate today's performance as the season progresses this team is going to be tough to beat.
As noted, Boeckman was terrible in the first half. If not for two dropped INT's he might have even been pulled for a series to get his act together. To his credit, he bounced back with a superb 2nd half going 7-10 with 145 yards and 2 TDs including the perfectly thrown bomb to Brian Robiskie. On the day, Robo finished with 4 catches for 107 yards while Brian Hartline had another solid game with 88 yards on 6 catches. Boeckman's 218 yards passing coupled with the 263 rushing gave OSU their first game achieving at least 200 passing and rushing since Oct. 28, 2006 against Minnesota.
Besides the dominance of the offensive line, the other key to today's performance is the zero turnovers allowed.
While not as dominating from a stats perspective as the previous two weeks, the Silver Bullets made big plays when they needed with the excpetion of the 85 yard TD march to close the first half. That possession was especially frustrating as OSU allowed Locker to convert a 3rd and 4 and then a 3rd and 11 before giving up the 23 yard TD catch. Discounting the meaningless TD with less than 2 minutes to go, the Buckeyes stopped the Huskies on 10 of 11 possessions.
The pass defense held Locker to just 16 of 33 for 153 yards including 2 INTs by James Laurinaitis and another by Malcolm Jenkins. I'm still a little against the idea of Jenkins playing safety/centerfield instead of covering the other team's best receiver but I don't wanna argue with Jim Heacock; I'm sure he has his reasons. For now, I'll accept it since Anderson Russell is proving he's all the way back from his injury, Donald Washington is playing adequately and Kurt Coleman is always around the ball. I think the one DB that somewhat concerns me right now is Chimdi Chekwa. He covers his man but has yet to develop any ball skills. Jenkins, Laurinaitis and Russell led the team in tackles with 8 apiece.
The special units had some issues today. I can handle Pretorious missing a 44 yarder on the road from time to time but having a 32 yard attempt blocked is not acceptable. I know Ray Stinkle would say the laces weren't out, but big time kickers convert in that situation. That said, I'm not overly worried about Pretorious. I'm more concerned about the dismal performance of the longsnappers. Errors like that on special teams lead to losses against better competition. Oh, and so much for Ray Small making an impact. He did manage to take the field and returned one punt for 10 yards. Maybe next week will the breakout performance I've been looking for since spring ball.
Brandon Saine has scored in all 3 games...OSU has scored at least 1 TD in 129 consecutive games...The 68 yard Boeckman to Robo TD was the longest for each in their career...Andy Geiger served as the Honorary Captain.