IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Troy Smith believes to be the best you
have to believe you're the best.
The way Ohio State has manhandled the competition so far,
there's every reason for the Buckeyes to think they're unbeatable.
In less than three seasons, we've seen Troy Smith go from a running quarterback to a relaxed, confident pocket passer. In 2006, the 22-year-old senior seems to be scrambling out of necessity rather than by choice, and mostly as a way to buy his receivers time to get open. Think anyone in Columbus is complaining?
* -- In Saturday's 38-17 win over No. 13 Iowa, Smith completed 16-of-25 passes for 186 yards, 4 TD and 0 INT. He also ran the ball seven times for 20 yards.
Smith threw for 186 yards and four touchdowns and No. 1 Ohio
State made another September statement, thumping No. 13 Iowa 38-17
Saturday night and extending the nation's longest winning streak to
"I think if there's a guy in the locker room who said that we
weren't the No. 1 team in the nation, he'd have a problem with
me," Smith said. "You have to have that kind of attitude, that
kind of swagger."
Of course, having Smith behind center doesn't hurt. Once again,
Smith kept his cool in the toughest of settings -- remember Texas --
and led the Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) to a surprisingly easy win.
Ohio State faced three ranked teams in September -- Texas, Penn
State and the Hawkeyes -- and beat them all by at least 17 points.
Saturday's showdown was one of the biggest games in Kinnick
Stadium history, and more than 70,000 fans -- about 69,000 of which
were decked out in Iowa gold -- did their best to help the Hawkeyes
(4-1, 1-1) pick up their first win over a No. 1.
Smith didn't let that happen.
All four of his TD passes gave Ohio State breathing room. His
counterpart, Iowa's Drew Tate, threw three picks that helped kill
Iowa's upset bid.
"He was in command the whole game," Ohio State coach Jim
Tressel said of Smith. "I thought he was one of the elite ones [in
the nation] before this game. But he keeps getting better."
Hawkeye Nation was primed for history Saturday night. Iowa had been 25-1 over its previous 26 home games, and Drew Tate loves to give the Kinnick Stadium crowd something to cheer about. Too bad Ohio State had other plans. Using superior strength and quickness, the Buckeyes defense pressured Tate all game long, forcing the senior QB to throw three INTs, matching his career high. Here's how Tate's career numbers at home stack up with Saturday night's showing.
Tate had his worst game last season against Ohio State. He
wasn't much better Saturday. He finished 19-of-41 for 249 yards.
"I gave them two touchdowns," Tate said. "You take two of
them away, it's a pretty close ball game."
It looks like smooth sailing for the next six weeks for Ohio
State. None of its upcoming opponents, until Michigan comes calling
on Nov. 18, are currently ranked.
"That's something we talked about, how brutal that September
schedule is," Tressel said. "We've played against some tough
teams who brought all they could bring us."
Iowa (4-1, 1-1) fell to 0-10-1 against top-ranked teams. The
Hawkeyes couldn't put up much of a fight in the most anticipated
game at Kinnick in more than 20 years.
The Buckeyes were just the fifth top-ranked team to visit
Kinnick, the last being Miami, who beat Iowa 24-7 in 1992. And the
last game to generate this much buzz in Iowa also came in 1985,
when the top-ranked Hawkeyes beat No. 2 Michigan 12-10.
All the buzz, and a loud sellout crowd, wasn't enough to stop
"By my vantage point, this is the best they've played all
year," Ferentz said of the Buckeyes. "This wasn't an easy one to
walk into as a visitor."
Ohio State broke open a 21-10 game with long scoring drives on
its first two possessions of the second half. Anthony Gonzalez, who
caught two touchdown passes, took the air out of the Kinnick crowd
with a spectacular 30-yard TD catch that put the Buckeyes ahead
28-10 early in the second half.
Gonzalez caught the ball on the left hashmark, cut back toward
the right sideline -- using his hand to keep from falling down -- and
fought through a tackle to reach the pylon.
Ohio State's next drive only netted an Aaron Pettrey field goal.
But it ate almost eight minutes off the clock and gave the Buckeyes
a 21-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Hawkeyes pulled within 31-17 on a 4-yard TD pass from Tate
on fourth down. But Ohio State forced a fumble and two interception
on Iowa's next three possessions. Smith put Iowa's comeback hopes
to rest with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robiskie.
The Buckeyes rushed for 124 yards in the first half -- just 15
shy of their game average heading into Saturday -- and picked up 5.9
yards a carry against an Iowa defensive line considered one of the
Big Ten's strongest.
"The run is what killed us," Iowa cornerback Charles Godfrey
said. "They ran the ball down our throats."
Iowa got as close as 14-10 on a 15-yard touchdown run by Albert
The Buckeyes moved ahead 14-3 by capitalizing on an interception
by Brandon Mitchell, who returned it to the Iowa 30. Pittman
followed a 23-yard rush with a 4-yard TD run.
Ohio State scored on the game's opening possession, marching 53
yards in just 2:24. Smith, who finished 16-of-25 passing, found
Gonzalez for a 12-yard TD pass to give the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead.
Pittman rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown.
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