In his first five seasons, Jim Tressel won 50 games, four bowl games, two Big Ten titles and a national championship. Tressel's 2006 team appeared poised to be another great team.
Ohio State received the nod as the preseason No. 1 team in the country, expected to live up to high praise. Troy Smith returned to lead a talented offensive unit, and James Laurinaitis added stability to a linebacking corps that lost Bobby Carpenter, A.J. Hawk and Anthony Schlegel.
|The 2006 Buckeyes|
|B1G Record||8–0, 1st|
|Coach||Jim Tressel (6th year, 62–14)|
Doug Datish, Quinn Pitcock,
David Patterson, Troy Smith
Games of Note
September 9th • #2 Texas • Darrell K. Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium
This game marked the first time since 1996 the top two teams in college football met in the regular season. The Longhorns won the national championship in 2005 and owned a 21-game winning streak. However, Vince Young left for the NFL and redshirt freshman Colt McCoy played quarterback.
Top-ranked Ohio State took the opening kickoff and drove to the Texas 11-yard line. But Tressel called upon Aaron Pettrey for a 28-yard chip shot field goal attempt, but he missed wide left. After a couple of stalled drives, McCoy and the Longhorns had 2nd-and-goal on the Buckeyes' 7-yard line. Billy Pittman caught a short pass, but James Laurinaitis forced a fumble and Donald Washington picked it up and returned it to the 50-yard line.
Smith took advantage of the turnover and great field position. He completed three passes to Anthony Gonzalez with the last resulting in a 14-yard touchdown. With 1:22 left in the first quarter, Ohio State led 7-0.
For the next 10 minutes, both offenses struggled to move the ball. McCoy finally settled in and directed a 13-play, 78-yard scoring drive. A key play in the drive occurred on 3rd-and-6 from the OSU 9-yard line. McCoy threw incomplete to Quan Cosby, but the drive stayed alive after the officials whistled Jay Richardson for roughing the passer. Two plays later, McCoy hit Pittman for a 2-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7.
Ohio State had 1:55 to put a scoring drive together and Smith went to work. The senior signal caller ran or passed on every play of the possession. He completed passes to Brian Robiskie, Ted Ginn Jr. and Gonzalez to cover 66 yards in five plays. The touchdown came from Ginn, who caught a 29-yard pass with 16 seconds left until halftime.
McCoy threw an interception to Laurinaitis on the third play of the second half and the linebacker returned the ball 25 yards to the Longhorns' 21. After Smith was sacked on second down, the Buckeyes settled for a Pettrey 31-yard field goal. Two minutes into the third quarter and Ohio State led 17-7.
Texas' Greg Johnson missed a 45-yard field goal and Antonio Pittman added a 2-yard touchdown to give the Buckeyes a 24-7 victory.
"We came in here and beat the No. 2 team in the country and the defending national champion in front of their home crowd," Vernon Gholston said. "We showed everybody what we can do."
Ohio State fans hoped the impressive win would be a stepping stone to the national championship.
|SEP. 2||N. ILLINOIS||OHIO STADIUM||W, 35–12|
|SEP. 9||NO. 2 TEXAS||DARREL K ROYAL||W, 24–7|
|SEP. 16||CINCINNATI||OHIO STADIUM||W, 37–7|
|SEP. 23||NO. 24 PENN ST.||OHIO STADIUM||W, 28–6|
|SEP. 30||NO. 13 IOWA||KINNICK STADIUM||W, 38–17|
|OCT. 7||BOWLING GREEN||OHIO STADIUM||W, 35–7|
|OCT. 14||MICHIGAN STATE||SPARTAN STADIUM||W, 38–7|
|OCT. 21||INDIANA||OHIO STADIUM||W, 44–3|
|OCT. 28||MINNESOTA||OHIO STADIUM||W, 44–0|
|NOV. 4||ILLINOIS||MEMORIAL||W, 17-10|
|NOV. 11||NORTHWESTERN||RYAN FIELD||W, 54-10|
|NOV. 18||NO. 2 MICHIGAN||OHIO STADIUM||W, 42–39|
|JAN. 8||NO. 2 FLORIDA||BCS CHAMPIONSHIP||L, 14-41|
September 23rd • #24 Penn State • Ohio Stadium
On a rainy but warm late September Saturday, No. 1 Ohio State and 24th-ranked Penn State faced off for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. Smith was intercepted – his first in 152 pass attempts – on Ohio State's first possession and it set the stage for the remainder of the half.
The teams combined for seven punts, two interceptions and a fumble. Penn State's Kevin Kelley made a 21-yard field goal as time expired to give Joe Paterno's team a 3-0 lead at the half.
The Buckeyes' offensive troubles continued on the first drive of the second half. Smith threw another interception, this time to Dan Connor at the OSU 26 to put the Nittany Lions in scoring position. But in three plays, the visitors only gained 1-yard and settled for a Kelly field goal attempt. The kicker missed the 42-yard try wide left and Ohio State dodged a bullet.
The missed field goal sparked the Buckeyes. Pittman had a run of 19, caught a screen pass for 17 yards and scored on a 12-yard run to give Ohio State a 7-3 lead six minutes into the third quarter.
At the start of the final period, Smith threw a 37-yard strike to Robiskie to extend the lead to 14-3. The 11-point advantage did not last long as Penn State immediately responded and had 1st-and-goal from the 5. Paterno called for three consecutive runs and the Ohio State defense forced a 4th-and-goal from the 1. Paterno decided to go for it, but a false start pushed his team back five yards. Kelly made a 23-yard field goal to make it 14-6 with 7:33 remaining.
The Nittany Lions forced Ohio State to punt, but Pickerington native A.J. Trapasso blasted a 53-yard boot that his team downed at the Penn State 8. Anthony Morelli put a decent drive together and had his team near midfield. On 1st-and-10 at his own 44, he threw a lazy pass to the sideline and had it picked off by Malcolm Jenkins. The star corner who weaved and dodged his way to the end zone as he returned the pick 61 yards for a touchdown. It appeared the talented defender threw the ball down before he crossed the goal line, but officials upheld the play.
"I was lucky they didn't review me spiking the ball on the 1-yard line," Jenkins said slyly afterwards.
Antonio Smith sealed the game 1:24 later when he scored on a 55-yard pick-six.
"In the Big Ten, it's always a four-quarter game," Tressel said. "We won a four-quarter game."
November 4th • Illinois • Memorial Stadium
No. 1 Ohio State defeated its first nine opponents by at least 17 points. Illinois came into the matchup on a five-game losing streak. With a 17-0 lead at the at the end of the first half, it appeared Tressel's team was going to run away from the Illini.
Near the halfway point of the fourth quarter, however, Ohio State still owned a 17-0 lead. That's when Illinois drove to the Buckeyes' 11-yard line. Rashard Mendenhall's 13-yard gain and a flea-flicker that created a pass interference call set-up Jason Reda's 27-yard field goal.
Following the field goal, both teams threw interceptions. Kevin Mitchell picked off Smith at the Illini 35. The very next play, Laurinaitis intercepted Tim Brasic and returned it to the 40. The Buckeyes couldn't move the ball and Trapasso's punt sailed into the end zone.
With 3:43 on the clock Brasic put together a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Mendenhall. Jason Reda attempted an on-side kick, but the Buckeyes recovered.
Tressel ran the ball three straight times to milk the clock and had Trapasso punt. The decision to play conservative proved wise as Trapasso struck a 55-yard punt that his teammates downed at the Illinois 2-yard line with only 4 seconds left. Ohio State hung on for a 17-10 win.
"I told the guys on Thursday it's going to come down to an onside kick. It's a critical play," Illinois head coach Ron Zook said. "When I saw the ball in the air I really thought we were going to get it, but it wasn't meant to be."
November 18th • #2 Michigan • Ohio Stadium
For the second time in 2006, No. 1 Ohio State played the second-ranked team in the country. For the first time in the series against Michigan, the heated rivals entered The Game ranked No. 1 and No. 2. The week leading up to the game was electric as anticipation of another shot at a national title permeated Columbus.
As if the event couldn't get any bigger, former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler passed away the night before kickoff. Lloyd Carr's team used the sudden passing as extra motivation to knock off the top-ranked Buckeyes.
With 48 degree temperatures, a partly cloudy sky and negligible winds Pettrey put the opening kickoff through the back of the end zone.
An inspired Michigan team marched 80 yards in seven plays and scored when Mike Hart plunged in from a yard out. The quick score did not shake the home team as Smith completed 9-of-11 passes and threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Hall on the ensuing drive to tie the game at 7.
On the second snap of the Buckeyes' first possession of the second quarter, Chris "Beanie" Wells ran through the middle of the line for a 52-yard touchdown. Ohio State's defense forced the Wolverines to punt and the offense took over at its own 9.
Smith and the offense had another quick strike attack as the quarterback hit Robiskie for a 39-yard gain on the second play to get the ball to the Michigan 48. Two plays later, Ginn extended the lead to 21-7 on a 39-yard touchdown pass.
Chad Henne cut the lead to seven 2:33 later when he threw a 37-yard touchdown to Adrian Arrington. Smith had just over two minutes until halftime when he brought the offense out on the field at his own 20. The Heisman candidate used precision passing to orchestrate a surgical 80-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown toss to Gonzalez.
In the first half, Ohio State dominated the Wolverines on the scoreboard and in the stat book. The Buckeyes racked up 320 total yards to Michigan's 181 and owned a 14-point lead. However, there were still another 30 minutes to play.
The Buckeyes came out flat and didn't gain a yard on their opening drive of the second half. The Wolverines took advantage of the short field and fed Hart. The running back picked up 59 yards on four carries and his touchdown made the score 28-21.
Smith threw an interception at his own 25 on the ensuing drive and Michigan was back in business. Sensing a possible momentum shift, Ohio State's defense buckled down and only allowed three yards on three plays. Garrett Rivas made a 39-yard field goal to pull his team to within 28-24.
The big plays continued for the Buckeyes following the kickoff. On the second play, Pittman ran over right guard for a 56-yard touchdown run to make it 35-24 and the home fans breathed a little easier.
Near the end of the third quarter, Smith missed handled a shotgun snap and Michigan recovered at the Buckeyes' 9-yard line. After Steve Breaston was stopped just short of the goal line on a reverse, Hart plowed in to make it 35-31 with 14:41 left in the game.
Ohio State drove to the Wolverines' 28 on the ensuing possession, but a rolling shotgun snap gave Michigan the ball back trailing by only four. However, Henne and company went 3-and-out and had to punt.
With the game in the balance, Tressel turned to the legs of Smith, Pittman and Wells. The trio rushed for 47 of the 83 yards on the touchdown drive. Two key plays came on passes. At the Wolverines' 38, Ohio State faced a 3rd-and-15 and Smith could not connect with Robiskie. However, Michigan was flagged for roughing the passer and the drive stayed alive. Three plays later Smith found Robiskie on a 13-yard touchdown pass.
Down 42-31, Carr's team need 12 points in 5:27 to win the game. The Wolverines did score a touchdown and 2-point conversion, but the scoring drive only left 2:16 on the clock. The Buckeyes recovered the onside kick and finished the regular season with a 12–0 record and a No. 1 ranking.
Tressel pushed his record against Michigan to 4–1 and stood one win away from his second national title.
January 8th • #2 Florida • BCS Championship Bowl
The Buckeyes entered the championship game with the Heisman Trophy winner, an explosive offense and a championship winning coach. That left the Buckeye State was eager to celebrate Ohio State's second championship in four seasons.
A recap of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl from the 2015 Ohio State Team Guide:
Ohio State’s Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, but it was all Florida from there as the No. 2 Gators upset the No. 1 Buckeyes, 41-14, in the BSC National Championship Game.
Ginn was injured in the celebration of his opening kickoff return for a
touchdown and the Buckeyes could not recover offensively. Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Troy Smith completed 4-of-14 passes for 35 yards and an interception and was sacked five times by the Gators (13-1).
Junior tailback Antonio Pittman rushed for 62 yards on 10 carries and his 18-yard touchdown run with 13:32 left in the second quarter brought the score to 21-14 in favor of the Gators, but it would be all the closer the Buckeyes would get.
OSU linebackers James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman both collected 15 tackles in the game.
The euphoria of Ginn's opening kick return quickly turned to concern as the game-changing wide receiver limped out of the end zone. The concern turned to despair as the Gators' defense fed on the Buckeyes' offensive line and the Heisman Trophy winner.
Florida destroyed Ohio State's perfect season with the 41-14 beatdown.
- Ohio State defeated Northern Illinois 35-12 and started ranked No. 1 for the first time since 1998. Troy Smith threw for 297 yards and a touchdown.
- The top-ranked Buckeyes traveled to Austin and put a first-class butt-whooping on the Longhorns. the Scarlet and Gray never trailed and Smith threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns. James Laurinaitis had an interception and forced a fumble.
- Cincinnati did play like it was 2002 and Ohio State rolled 37-7. Antonio Pittman rushed for 155 yards and a score, and Laurinaitis had an interception.
- PSU lived up to being pick-six university when Malcolm Jenkins returned an interception 61 yards for a touchdown, and Antonio Smith had a 55-yard pick-six nearly 90 seconds later. The Buckeyes won 28-6.
- Troy Smith threw four touchdowns as the No. 1 Buckeyes beat Iowa 38-17 in Iowa City.
- Bowling Green was overmatched in a 35-7 loss to Ohio State. Ted Ginn Jr. finished with 122 receiving yards, 10 catches and a touchdown.
- Ohio State traveled to East Lansing and dismantled Michigan State 38-7. Ted Ginn Jr.'s 60-yard punt return in the second quarter broke the game open. The Spartans were held to 63 rushing and 198 total yards.
- The Buckeyes threw for 270 yards and ran for 270 yards in the 44-3 thrashing of Indiana.
- Ohio State shut out Minnesota as Antonio Pittman rushed for 116 yards and two scores in a 44-0 victory.
- Ohio State led 17-0 at halftime but had to withstand an Illinois 10-point fourth quarter rally to escape Champaign with a win.
- James Laurinaitis forced a fumble during the game's opening drive and Troy Smith threw four touchdowns as No. 1 Ohio State own 54-10.
- For the second time, the Buckeyes faced the No. 2 team in the nation when ranked No. 1. Troy Smith threw four touchdown passes in the 42-39 victory.
- Ted Ginn Jr. returned the BCS National Championship game's opening kickoff for a touchdown but broke his foot during the celebration. From there, Urban Meyer and Florida stunned Ohio State 41-14.
- Ted Ginn Jr., James Laurinaitis, Quinn Pitcock and Troy Smith earned All-American honors.
- Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez, Quinn Pitcock, Antonio Pittman, Jay Richardson, Roy Hall, Troy Smith and Doug Datish were selected in the NFL Draft.
- Ohio State started the season ranked No. 1, went undefeated in the regular season, but finished second.
Jim Tressel's 2006 team started the season ranked No. 1 and finished the regular season undefeated. The Buckeyes defeated No. 2 Texas and No. 2 Michigan as they won their first outright Big Ten title since 1984.
Troy Smith won Ohio State's seventh Heisman Trophy, the sixth Buckeye to earn the honor. James Laurinaitis received with the Nagurski Award.