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SDSU coach: Why isn#039;t Ohio State ranked No. 1?

COLUMBUS -- San Diego State coach Tom Craft is mystified why defending national champion Ohio State is ranked No. 2.

''There's no question in my mind that team is the top team in the nation,'' Craft said.

Craft questions the thinking of poll voters who have the Buckeyes ranked behind preseason No. 1 Oklahoma.

''I don't know what they are thinking when they have a team that had a perfect season and has almost everyone back and they're not No. 1,'' Craft said. ''I would be shocked if they don't repeat as the national champion.''

The Aztecs accepted a $2.4-million check to move Saturday's game from sunny San Diego to damp Ohio Stadium.

The Buckeyes appeared to pick up right where they left off in last year's Fiesta Bowl when they beat No. 17 Washington 28-9 last Saturday in the opener for both teams.

Ohio State's defense limited pass-happy Huskies quarterback Cody Pickett to 255 yards on 49 attempts. Pickett was sacked three times for 34 yards in losses as the Buckeyes -- with five new defensive starters -- limited Washington to just 7 net yards rushing on 24 carries.

''We were on a mission,'' safety Will Allen said. ''Everybody was on the same path.''

The opening victory was similar in many ways to how the Buckeyes opened last year's 14-0 campaign. They completely shut down Texas Tech and Heisman-hyped Kliff Kingsbury in a 45-21 victory.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said last year's opener ''seems like light years away'' but said in some ways the Buckeyes are off to a faster start than in 2002.

''Maybe there are some things that we're doing better than we were doing a year ago at this time,'' he said.

The Buckeyes weren't better in every regard. Against Texas Tech they piled up 341 yards rushing with freshman Maurice Clarett debuting with 175 yards and three touchdowns.

Now Clarett is suspended from the team for accepting improper benefits and misleading NCAA and Ohio State investigators. Maurice Hall and Lydell Ross will be trying to pick up the slack, although they were limited to a combined 101 yards on 27 carries last week.

''It wasn't one of my best games,'' said Hall, who finished with 58 yards on 15 carries.

Ross said he and Hall have to improve their production to continue a 15-game winning streak.

''A running back always wants to have more than 100 yards in a game,'' he said. ''I feel like we could have done better.''

San Diego State also won its opener last week, victimizing I-AA Eastern Washington. The game was costly for the Aztecs because starting quarterback Adam Hall sustained a sprained ankle and will most likely miss the game against the Buckeyes.

Hall completed 4-of-7 passes for 50 yards two years ago when the Aztecs played at Ohio State in a game that was set back more than a month by the terrorist attacks of 9-11.

San Diego State led 12-9 at the half before the Buckeyes shut the Aztecs out for a 27-12 win.

Hall will be replaced by sophomore Matt Dlugolecki, who had never taken a college snap before the second quarter last week. He will be facing what many consider the best defensive front in college football, led by ends Will Smith and Simon Fraser, the Big Ten's defensive player of the week.

''For Matt, his biggest obstacle is experience and being under the gun,'' Craft said.