||Friday, January 3
Updated: January 4, 3:36 AM ET
Krenzel does what's needed, when it's needed
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Craig Krenzel won't be overlooked anymore.
After spending most of his career in the shadows -- and entering Friday night's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl as the "other'' quarterback -- the Ohio State junior guided the Buckeyes with a steady hand and some deceptively fast feet in a dramatic 31-24 double-overtime victory over Miami in the national title game.
Time and again, Krenzel time made big plays as the Buckeyes kept hanging around.
It was Krenzel who scored on a plunge off the right side to tie the game at 7-7. Krenzel again scored on a 1-yard surge to tie it after Miami had taken a 24-17 lead on Ken Dorsey's 7-yard scoring pass to Kellen Winslow Jr. in the first overtime.
Krenzel didn't have a great day with his arm against the Hurricanes' furious pass rush, completing 7 of 21 passes for 122 yards with two interceptions. But he led the Buckeyes in rushing with 81 yards on 19 carries.
"He made plays, and he's tough,'' Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel said. "That's the No. 1 characteristic a quarterback has to have, especially at Ohio State. He ought to be tough, and Craig Krenzel is tough.''
Krenzel had spent most of his first two years at Ohio State watching from the sideline as Steve Bellisari quarterbacked the Buckeyes. After Bellisari was suspended for a drunken driving arrest, Krenzel started against Michigan a year ago and led the Buckeyes to a surprising victory in Ann Arbor.
But when the Buckeyes played in the Outback Bowl, he started but got only seven snaps before he was replaced by Bellisari, who played the rest of the way.
Some thought Scott McMullen would be the starter after spring practices. Krenzel edged by him. Then, heralded recruit Justin Zwick showed up in July, and many thought Zwick would win the job.
Still, it was Krenzel who won out, largely because of his intelligence. He guided the Buckeyes to 13 straight wins, sometimes with his arm, sometimes with his feet and almost always with his head.
A molecular genetics major, he hopes to be a doctor. Tressel says he has never seen anyone who makes better decisions when he steps behind center.
"Krenzel is unbelievable,'' Buckeyes tight end Ben Hartsock said. "He's like he always is. He's our general out there. Things happen and people get rattled, but he always maintains his composure.''
Krenzel's patient approach to the game was on display in the Fiesta Bowl.
Despite gaining only two first downs in the game's first 19 minutes, Ohio State took advantage after Mike Doss had picked off a Dorsey pass and returned it 35 yards to the Miami 17. It was Dorsey's second interception of the game.
Krenzel kept the drive alive on third-and-5 from the 12 with an 8-yard completion to Chris Vance. On third-and-goal at the 1, Krenzel -- and not heralded freshman Maurice Clarett -- got the call. He moved the ball forward within 18 inches of the goal line.
Then on fourth down, Krenzel eluded defensive end Jamal Green and linebacker Roger McIntosh to stretch in at right guard.
Dorsey lost a fumble on Miami's next play, and four snaps after that, Clarett banged in off right tackle for the 7-yard touchdown to give the Buckeyes a 14-7 lead at the half.
In the second overtime, Krenzel gained 5 yards to the Miami 11 on a keeper on third-and-1. On the next play, he found his favorite target, Michael Jenkins, on a pass in the left flat for 6 yards. Clarett took it in for the touchdown on the next play.
Miami failed to score in the second overtime, when the Buckeyes' Cie Grant blitzed and forced Dorsey into a pass that linebacker Matt Wilhelm knocked to the ground, giving Ohio State the improbable victory.
"I was not really watching that play,'' Krenzel said. "I kind of peeked up at the last second and saw somebody coming in untouched on Dorsey. I still haven't seen that play, but I bet I will a lot of times.''
In game for ages, Ohio State nips Miami for title