If you're like me, you got the feeling this game was over as soon as Joe Laurinaitis introduced the OSU offense on ABC's coverage of Ohio State's 58-7 thrashing of Northwestern. Within seconds of The Animal's bloodthirsty tirade, Todd Boeckman hit All-American-in-progress Brian Robiskie on a 42 yard TD strike setting off a Buckeye blitzkrieg that saw OSU lead 28-0 with over 5 minutes remaining in the opening quarter of the 500th game staged at The Shoe. It was too early to activate the cruise control forcing OSU to score on 3 of their next 4 first half possessions (7/9 total) resulting in a 45-0 lead at intermission.
Typically, that kind of offensive performance would steal the show but the 2007 version of the Silver Bullets showed no mercy against the Tyrell Sutton-less Wildcats. The Gun Show scooped up a fumble by Wildcat quarterback CJ Bacher and flexed 25 yards to paydirt, Chimdi Checkwa snagged a pick and the defense combined for 3 sacks and five 3-and-outs holding NU to 20 total yards on 39 first half plays.
Not everything came up aces, however, as Beanie Wells tweaked his left ankle on the opening drive of the 2nd half inducing a few panic attacks in the Columbus area. After limping off the field and and trading his brace for a bag of ice, Beanie was seen late in game with his cleats on and no ice in the vacinity. Postgame, both Beanie and Tressel confirmed it was nothing serious however Beanie is racking up a track record of nicks that is somewhat concerning especially if Brandon Saine is out longer than expected.
In any event, this squad is quietly gaining steam and looks to be one of the five best in the country and the clear class of the conference considering Wisconsin's inconsistent play and PSU's defeat in Ann Arbor.
Todd Boeckman made the most of his 14 pass attempts, connecting on 11 including 4 TD passes against 1 INT. Three of the TD's went to Robiskie in the game's first 20 minutes while Ray Small finally got into the mix hauling in a 48 yard TD to give OSU a 52-7 cushion just over 3 minutes into the second half.
Before suffering the flat tire, Beanie hit the century mark for the third straight game finishing with 100 yards on 12 carries including a 36 yard burst to cap a 9 play, 76 yard drive to make it 42-0 late in the second quarter. The other Wells rushed 15 times for just 44 yards but did find the endzone to give OSU 58 points, the most ever under Tressel.
The blowout did provide another look at both Rob Schoenhoft and Antonio Henton and I can't say I feel any better about either of them. Schoenhoft threw his first pass at the feet of his intended target before hitting Rory Nicol on a 9 yard completion setting up Ryan Pretorious' FG to make it 45-0 on the last drive of the half while Henton saw extensive action in the 2nd half. Henton rushed 7 times for 31 yards as Tressel buttoned down the offense to avoid hanging 70 on the hapless Wildcats.
For the third time in four games, the Silver Bullets kept the opposing offense out of the endzone producing 3 turnovers, 0 yards rushing, 13 TFL, 5 sacks led by Little Animal's 7 tackles (1 sack, 1 TFL) and Vern's first career touchdown. I know it can't be quantified but it feels like this defense is the hardest hitting sqaud I've seen in recent memory. Nearly every stop is courtesy a bone jarring hit or gang tackle.
Save the last possession of the game, Northwestern's longest drive was a 3:27 march that yielded -1 yard on 6 plays resulting in 1 of 9 punts on the day. As I scan the schedule, I'm trying hard to figure out who might score 14 points on this unit. The defensive line continues to stifle the run and put pressure on the passer. The best linebacker in the nation patrols the middle and the secondary houses some headhunters in Jenkins and Kurt Coleman.
It was another up and down day for the specialty units. Kick coverage surrendered a 99 TD return by Stephen Simmons to start the 3rd quarter however Jamario O'Neal and Brian Rolle stood out on kick coverage blowing up Sherrick McManis on one return and forcing NU to start around their 5 yard line on another. The kicking unit botched an extra point attempt as snapping and holding continue to be problematic areas. Give the unit a sticker for Larry Grant's punt block at the 2 yard line.
The win marked the 15th straight conference victory...OSU is 29-2 at home in the last 5 seasons...The Buckeyes have converted 14 of 15 trips to the red zone....Gholstin's TD was the first scored by the defense since last year at Northwestern.