Close early, No. 1 Ohio State routs overmatched Cincinnati

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Coming off a big win at Texas and with a

week to go before the Big Ten opener, top-ranked Ohio State played

like a team that knew eventually something good was bound to


That patience paid off in the second half as the Buckeyes rode a

big game by the defense and two touchdown passes from Troy Smith to

Ted Ginn Jr. to beat Cincinnati 37-7 on Saturday.

"It didn't seem we had quite as much pep in our step as we came

into the game," coach Jim Tressel said. "We didn't seem quite as

explosive or that we were flying around the way we like to. But as

the game went on, we picked up a little steam."

Much of it was supplied by the defense, which had eight sacks

while holding Cincinnati (1-2) to minus-4 yards on 22 rushes.

"I'm really still kicking myself in the butt because I could

have had two more sacks that I missed," said tackle Quinn Pitcock,

who had three sacks for 24 yards in losses.

Antonio Pittman, Smith and Ginn did the rest.

Much like in its 24-7 win at Texas last week, Ohio State (3-0)

was overpowering when it had to be and always seemed to come up

with a big play at the right time.

"We got better every quarter," defensive tackle David

Patterson said. "It was just a matter of time until the offense


The Buckeyes didn't have a firm grip on the game until Pittman,

who finished with 155 yards on 16 carries, raced 48 yards around

left end for a score with 10 minutes remaining to make it 27-7.

"At halftime we talked to our players about playing one play at

a time and the nation would begin to watch because the game is

13-7," UC coach Mark Dantonio said. "We sustained in the third

quarter but then we started to fail a little bit."

Smith completed 21-of-30 passes for 203 yards before taking most

of the fourth quarter off.

"As the game went on, our protection got better and we started

to open up," said Smith, who hasn't thrown an interception in his

last 152 attempts.

Ginn, Smith's high school teammate, was limited to five catches

for 33 yards, but he scored twice from 12 and 9 yards out and

helped draw attention from Pittman and Anthony Gonzalez.

Linebacker James Laurinaitis, who had an interception and forced

a fumble against Texas, ended a drive by the Bearcats by picking

off a pass late in the half. Malcolm Jenkins and Anderson Russell

also had interceptions for the Buckeyes, who open Big Ten play next

week at home against Penn State.

Leading 13-7 at the half, Ohio State got some breathing room on

its second possession of the third quarter. Pittman had runs of 13,

6, 8 and 11 yards and Smith hit Gonzalez for 13 yards to give the

Buckeyes a first down at the 9. Smith then found Ginn crossing over

the middle for the touchdown.

After Pittman's touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, Ohio

State cruised 72 yards in just 1:43 -- with mostly subs on the field

-- to score on Maurice Wells' 9-yard run.

The opening half was not easy for the Buckeyes, who have a 12-2

record against the Bearcats and have not lost in the series since

1897. They only rushed for 2 yards in the first quarter.

Ohio State drove 28 yards after forcing UC to punt on its first

possession, taking a 3-0 lead on Aaron Pettrey's 47-yard field


UC's Dustin Grutza, who finished 18-of-22 for 202 yards with two

interceptions, tossed a 28-yard pass to Derrick Stewart on first

down and later scrambled for 23 yards. Jared Martin then caught his

first career pass for a 22-yard touchdown and the Bearcats had a

7-3 lead.

All Ohio State was able to muster in its next three possessions

was another Pettrey field goal but the Buckeyes finally got on

track in the final minutes of the half.

"The momentum was going our way," UC tight end Brent Celek

said. "At halftime the guys felt like we could give it to them.

But then -- mistakes here and mistakes there."

Smith connected on all six of his passes for 79 yards in an

impressive drive that put them on top to stay. The key plays were

Smith's 33-yard gainer to Gonzalez, who was pulled down when

Dominic Ross grabbed his jersey and held on tight, and the 12-yard

TD pass to Ginn that capped the 80-yard march.

Amid all the big plays, Ohio State's offense was hurt by

penalties. They were flagged eight times for 75 yards.

"We're all anxious to get into the Big Ten season," Tressel

said. "We perhaps played like (that)."