Smith, defense key lopsided OSU win

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 28, 2005

The Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - All Ohio State wanted Saturday was a win on the road. The Buckeyes accomplished much more.

Troy Smith ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, the Buckeyes had a big game and a suffocating defense never gave Indiana a chance as No. 14 Ohio State produced its most lopsided win of the season, 41-10, to stay close in the muddled Big Ten title chase.

Email newsletter signup

‘‘It's sure nice to go on the road and get a win,'' Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel said. ‘‘I thought our kids played hard, and I thought our defensive staff did a good job disguising what they were doing.''

It was only the second Big Ten road victory for the Buckeyes (5-2, 3-1) since November 2003, a span of seven games.

But, of course, this one came in Bloomington where the Hoosiers are usually hospitable.

From the Indiana band playing the Buckeyes fight song during pregame warmups, to the reverberating chants of ‘‘O-H-I-O'' throughout the game to the loud postgame celebration, Ohio State seemed right at home in Memorial Stadium, where it hasn't lost since 1988.

If the Hoosiers (4-3, 1-3) were looking for what went wrong, they could start with the stat sheet.

Ohio State rushed for 240 yards and had 478 yards in offense.

Indiana rushed for a meager 42, nearly half of that in the final minutes when the game was already decided, and finished with 137 yards. The Hoosiers also had more punts (10) than first downs (eight).

‘‘It's been a long time since I've been on the receiving end of a game like that,'' Indiana coach Terry Hoeppner said. ‘‘You've got to give credit to Ohio State. But, obviously, we didn't help. We were very ineffective on offense.''

No matter what the Hoosiers tried, the Buckeyes seemingly had an answer.

Antonio Pittman and Smith hurt Indiana on the ground, sometimes calling plays perfectly behind the Hoosiers' shifting defensive line.

Pittman carried 26 times for 133 yards. Smith ran 12 times for 55 yards, scored on runs of 1 and 23 yards and completed 14-of-23 for 226 yards, including a 23-yard TD pass to Santonio Holmes. Holmes had five catches for 104 yards.

The combination wore down a Hoosiers defense that was fatigued by halftime.

Indiana also struggled against Ohio State's swarming defense.

Blake Powers, who entered the game with Indiana's single-season record of 20 TD passes, was 13-of-29 for 72 yards and failed to throw a touchdown for the first time all year. Receiver James Hardy, who ranked among the national leaders in receptions and yards receiving, managed only two catches for 27 yards although he appeared to be hobbled by a leg injury.

With Powers and Hardy out of sync, the Hoosiers went nowhere.

‘‘We've got a long way to go,'' Hoeppner said. ‘‘I'm not pointing fingers, but we didn't make a lot of plays, and we didn't create an atmosphere that we needed to create. We've got a long way to go in both areas. The Buckeyes don't come back here for a long while, and when they do, it needs to be a completely different atmosphere.''

Ohio State, however, was far from perfect.

Despite converting an Indiana fumble and a short punt into first-half touchdowns, the Buckeyes blew several chances to take control.

Smith was intercepted at the goal line, and a personal foul penalty nullified Ted Ginn Jr.'s 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first half.

But the Hoosiers problems proved more costly. Twice, Indiana started drives inside the Ohio State 40 and failed to score points. Its only touchdown came when linebacker John Pannozzo ripped the ball away from Ginn in the third quarter and scored on a 57-yard fumble return.

Ohio State matched that when Brandon Mitchell intercepted an underthrown ball intended for Hardy and ran it back 57 yards to make it 31-10.

‘‘The defense led the day today,'' Smith said. ‘‘To give up 137 yards in offense is great.''

The Buckeyes took a 17-3 halftime lead, and still led 17-10 after Pannozzo's fumble return.

Then came Ohio State's quick knockout punch. Smith scored on a 23-yard run. That was followed by Mitchell's interception return, and Ginn closed out the scoring with a 62-yard punt return.

‘‘It was good balance, I'm sure we're going to find a whole lot, though, that we wish were better at,'' Tressel said.