Illinois Next Test for No. 1 Ohio State
On Senior Day, Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) will face Illini in final home game of the season; Ohio State leads nation in scoring defense and total defense
FIRST AND 10
Ohio State has an all-time record of 67-9-1 when ranked as the nation’s No. 1 team. The Buckeyes have been ranked No. 1 for four weeks this season.
Ohio State leads the series 60-29-4 and has a 26-17-4 edge in Columbus. Between 1968 and 1982, the Buckeyes put together a 15-game winning streak against the Illini, the longest streak in the series by either team. Illinois won five in a row between 1988 and 1992.
Ohio State has won the last three meetings, but Illinois has prevailed in two of the last three matchups at Ohio Stadium.
SERIES INFORMATION VS. ILLINOIS
SALUTING THE SENIORS
Devin Jordan (Massillon, Ohio), Curt Lukens (North Canton, Ohio) and De'Angelo Haslam (Akron, Ohio), all of whom suffered career-ending injuries, and senior manager Jon Yeagley (Ashtabula, Ohio) will also be recognized.
THE ILLIBUCK TROPHY
Currently, 47 teams have enough wins to be eligible for post-season play.
Ohio State is also one of only three teams to remain undefeated through this point in the season, along with 9-0 Kansas and 8-0 Hawaii.
Previously, 16 Ohio State football teams have posted at least 10 wins in a season: 1954, 1968, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1986, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006. The Buckeyes have won at least 10 games in five of Coach Jim Tressel’s seven seasons at Ohio State.
Linebacker James Laurinaitis is a semifinalist for the Rotary Lombardi (one of 12) and the Butkus (one of 10) awards, and a quarterfinalist (of 17) for the Lott Trophy.
Defensive lineman Vernon Gholston is on the mid-season list for the Ted Hendricks Award, and punter A.J. Trapasso is among the announced field for the Ray Guy Award. Offensive tackles Kirk Barton and Alex Boone were on the preseason watch list for the Outland Trophy, and receiver Brian Robiskie has made the Top 10 for the Biletnikoff Award.
Quarterback Todd Boeckman is a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award and kicker Ryan Pretorius remains among the contenders for the Lou Groza Award.
TRESSEL GETS WIN No. 200
Among active coaches, only Bobby Bowden (Florida State), Joe Paterno (Penn State) and Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech) also have 200 career wins.
The Ohio State-Penn State game was the first matchup of active coaches with 200 wins since Penn State defeated Florida State 26-23 in overtime Jan. 3, 2006, in the Orange Bowl.
REGULAR-SEASON WINS RECORD
BIG TEN CONSECUTIVE WINS
That sets an all-time Ohio State record for consecutive conference wins; the previous OSU best was 17, set from 1954-56, 1967-69 and 1974-76.
That also sets a new Big Ten record for consecutive conference wins; the previous Big Ten best was 19, set by Michigan from 1990-92.
WEEKS ATOP THE BCS
Game captains thus far: Youngstown State - Larry Grant; Akron Marcus Freeman; Washington Vernon Gholston; Northwestern Malcolm Jenkins; Minnesota Anderson Russell; Purdue Larry Grant; Kent State Marcus Freeman; Michigan State Malcolm Jenkins; Penn State Vernon Gholston.
MORE ABOUT THE CAPTAINS
James Laurinaitis is the first junior to be elected a captain since 2000 when Steve Bellisari and Joe Cooper both were chosen captains as juniors. Bellisari and Cooper were re-elected as seniors in 2001.
BUCKS WIN 77 PERCENT OF OHIO STADIUM GAMES
Ohio State has won 18 consecutive and 22 of the last 23 games played in the Horseshoe. Ohio State’s all-time record in Columbus is 522-151-35 in 708 games.
Ohio State has hosted 40 consecutive crowds of 100,000 or larger at Ohio Stadium, including an opening-day audience of 105,038 against Youngstown State (22nd largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history).
Other home crowds this season that rank in the Top 25 all-time:
This summer, the old grass field in place at Ohio Stadium since 1990 was removed for a new synthetic surface called FieldTurf. The old field was rolled up and donated to the Columbus Parks and Recreation Service.
THREE AND OUT
Totals by game: Youngstown State (3); Akron (13); Washington (5); Northwestern (6); Minnesota (8); Purdue (7); Kent State (3); Michigan State (4); Penn State (0); Wisconsin (4).
The Buckeye defense has held the opponent to three-and-out on 44.1% of all possessions this season (53-120). Turnovers have ended 18 of those other opponent drives.
SCORING DEFENSE BEST ALLOWED SINCE 1975
OHIO STATE W/L RECORDS Seasons: 118
The Ohio State defense has allowed only seven touchdowns this season, holding Youngstown State to two field goals in the opener before Akron totaled just two points on a first-quarter safety. Minnesota scored once on a four-yard pass play.
Northwestern’s touchdown came on a kickoff return. Purdue scored on the last drive of that 23-7 Buckeye road victory. Michigan State’s only points against the defense were a fourth-quarter field goal. Penn State scored on its opening drive; the Nittanies’ other TD was on a kickoff return. Wisconsin scored two passing touchdowns, the only touchdowns allowed by the Buckeye defense at home this season.
Ohio State allowed Akron to put just two points on the scoreboard with a first-quarter safety, the lowest opponent total since the Buckeyes shut out Minnesota, 44-0, last season in Columbus. The Buckeyes held Akron to just 1-9 third-down conversions in the first half; for the game, the Zips converted just 2-16 third-down chances.
Akron had just two first downs in the first half, both coming on its opening drive of the game. After Akron’s first drive, Ohio State forced the Zips into 13 consecutive three-and-outs on offense, a school record. That streak included four drives of negative yardage for Akron. Four of Akron’s three-and-outs came after Ohio State turnovers.
For the game, Akron had just 69 yards of total offense. After totaling 34 yards on the first drive, the Zips put up 35 yards the rest of the game. The Ohio State record for fewest yards allowed is 27 to Michigan in 1950.
The Buckeyes forced three interceptions against Washington, and also recovered a fumble on special teams.
Northwestern finished with zero yards rushing on 33 attempts. The last time the Buckeyes held an opponent to zero yards rushing was against San Jose State (0 yards, 13 attempts) Oct. 12, 2002. For the game, the Wildcats converted just 6-of-17 third-down chances.
Minnesota was held to just 45 yards rushing; Ohio State had two interceptions against the Gophers. Purdue, the Big Ten’s top offense entering the game, rushed for only four net yards and gained only one rushing first down. Kent State scored a field goal on its last drive of the game.
Wisconsin managed only 12 yards rushing, as the Buckeyes recovered two Badger fumbles and forced 10 sacks in that victory.
LAURINAITIS LEADS THE WAY
Laurinaitis has led or tied for the OSU team lead in tackles in 15 of the last 22 games, including a then-season-high 14 tackles with 1.5 TFL in the win against the Minnesota Gophers. He had a team-best 12 tackles against Michigan State.
The savvy All-American had two interceptions, a team-high 8 tackles and a 5-yard sack against the Washington Huskies, earning Big Ten defensive player of the week honors.
The junior, who won the 2006 Bronko Nagurski Award, has accounted for seven interceptions, eight sacks and 16.5 TFL (-76) during his stellar career.
He is a 2007 semifinalist for the Rotary Lombardi and Butkus awards and a quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy.
CORNER TO CORNER
In the win at Purdue. Corner Chimdi Chekwa was credited with 10 solo tackles and a pass deflection, earning him Big Ten defensive player of the week honors.
Jenkins had nine tackles, one for a loss, against the Boilermakers, and Donald Washington added four solo stops and a PBU. Safety Anderson Russell contributed a pair of sacks (-18) and two pass breakups.
Against Kent State, Washington scored on a 70-yard interception return and also recorded his first career sack.
PAPER OR PLASTIC
Jason Simmons had four sacks against Washington State in 1991 and Bobby Carpenter had four sacks against Michigan State in 2005. Byron Lee accounted for -32 yards on sacks against Indiana in 1984.
Gholston now shows 10 sacks for the season and 18.5 for his career, ranking him seventh in single-season sacks and sixth among career leaders.
Gholston’s -76 sack yardage this season ranks him fifth all-time among OSU season leaders; he also ranks fifth in career sack yards with 149.
DEFENSIVE BIG PLAYS
The Buckeyes sacked Wisconsin 10 times, four of those by Vernon Gholston (-32) to tie an Ohio State single-game record. Thaddeus Gibson forced a key fourth-quarter fumble that was recovered by Dexter Larimore, and James Laurinaitis had another fumble recovery against the Badgers.
Malcolm Jenkins’ 24-yard interception return for a touchdown and a Donald Washington fumble recovery were key plays of the victory at Penn State, where the Buckeyes registered five TFL and a pair of sacks.
Washington’s 70-yard interception return for a touchdown was a highlight of the win over Kent State, and the first score on an interception by a Buckeye since Brandon Mitchell did it last season at Northwestern. A second-quarter Kent State fumble was forced by Doug Worthington and recovered by Shaun Lane.
Worthington recorded his first interception in the win over Michigan State, when the Buckeyes had six tackles for loss and four sacks against the league-leading offensive unit.
In the win at Purdue, Ohio State totaled seven pass breakups, five tackles for loss and three sacks against the Big Ten’s then-top-rated offense.
At Minnesota, Ohio State got interceptions from Jenkins (3 yards) and Larry Grant (19); Grant also had a nine-yard sack, one of seven TFL for the game by the defense.
In the 58-7 win over Northwestern, junior defensive lineman Vernon Gholston scored on a 25-yard fumble return; Gholston also had a pair of sacks for -23 yards.
Nick Patterson (34 yards) and Chimdi Chekwa (9) came up with interceptions for the Buckeyes. Anderson Russell forced the fumble that led to Gholston’s score, and also recorded a 5-yard sack. The Buckeyes had five sacks and 13 tackles for loss against the Wildcats.
Junior Brian Robiskie, a Top 10 finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, is Ohio State’s top target for the season, with 44 catches for 833 yards and 10 scores to his credit. Robiskie has now caught a pass in 22 regular season games in a row. He had six receptions for 64 yards at Purdue.
Brian Hartline has 41 catches for the season, with 524 yards and five touchdowns. Nabbing seven receptions for 95 yards against Wisconsin, he was the Buckeyes’ leading receiver with four catches against Michigan State, and he scored on a 14-yard reception against Kent State, as well as a 90-yard punt return. Hartline was on the receiving end of a 6-yard scoring strike at Purdue; his long gain against the Boilermakers was 41 yards.
Ray Small had a 60-yard catch from Boeckman at Penn State, and had six receptions for 70 yards at Purdue, including a 26-yard touchdown for the game’s first score; for the year, Small shows 17 catches for 240 yards.
Boeckman connected with nine different Buckeye targets at Minnesota, the leader being Robiskie, with five catches for 99 yards, including an acrobatic 52-yard TD dive just before halftime. Tight end Rory Nicol was the leading receiver at Penn State with six receptions for 39 yards.
At Washington, there were six OSU different targets, led by Robiskie with 107 yards on four catches, including a 68-yard third-quarter touchdown. The leader against Northwestern again was Robiskie, whose three catches each went for scores of 42, 28 and 19 yards. Small caught a 48-yard scoring strike from Boeckman against Northwestern, the long gain of the day.
Eight Buckeyes caught passes in the win over Akron, led by Hartline with a career-best six receptions totaling 43 yards. Robiskie had four catches for 82 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown reception from Boeckman.
Nine Ohio State players had at least one reception against Youngstown State, including four who had the first receptions of their collegiate careers: fifth-year senior Trever Robinson and true freshmen Dane Sanzenbacher, Devon Torrence, and Taurian Washington.
Sanzenbacher, Washington and Robinson each scored a touchdown on his first career catch; the last Buckeye to do that was Jake Ballard against Indiana in 2006.
The receiving leader for the Buckeyes against YSU was Robiskie, who had nine catches for 153 yards. That total is the most receiving yardage by a Buckeye since Ted Ginn Jr. had 167 vs. Notre Dame in 2006 Fiesta Bowl). Robiskie’s nine grabs were a career best, topping the seven he had vs. Michigan last year. The nine receptions are the most since Ginn had 10 against Bowling Green last season.
Boeckman and Robby Schoenhoft connected with a season-best 10 targets in the win over Kent State.
SCORES AND MORE
Against Kent State, the Buckeyes scored 28 points, on touchdowns via the pass, the run, a punt return and an interception return.
The Buckeyes led Northwestern by a score of 45-0 at the half, the most first-half points since Ohio State posted 52 points (52-0) against Pitt Sept. 21, 1996.
The 58 points scored by the Buckeyes was the largest total of the Jim Tressel era. That tops the 54 points scored by the Buckeyes last season at Northwestern. The 58 points were the most since 72 scored against Pitt Sept. 21, 1996.
The 58 points were the most scored against a Big Ten opponent since a 69-18 win against Minnesota in 1983.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Ohio State outscores opponents 18.8-2.9 in the first half and 16.1-6.8 in second-half action.
The Buckeyes, which rank first nationally in scoring defense, are outscoring opponents by 25.2 points per game (34.9-9.7)
The top 10 rushing performances in Ohio State history:
Wells rushed for 169 yards on 21 carries against Wisconsin, scoring three second-half touchdowns of 31, 30 and 23 yards.
Beanie totaled 143 yards on 20 rushes against Akron in his first career 100-yard game. At Washington, Wells ended the game with 135 yards on 24 rushes, and he totaled 100 yards on 12 carries against Northwestern (with a 36-yard touchdown) before leaving that game with an ankle injury. Beanie gained 116 yards on 24 carries in the win at Minnesota, scoring two first-quarter touchdowns (his first career multi-touchdown game).
Maurice Clarett was the last Buckeye to record 100 yards rushing in four straight contests, against Indiana, Northwestern, San Jose State and Wisconsin in 2002.
Wells left the Purdue game in the third quarter with an ankle injury after gaining 85 yards on 18 carries, and played sparingly against Kent State, gaining 17 yards on four carries with a 7-yard touchdown.
At Penn State, Wells gained 133 yards on 25 carries against a PSU defense that was ranked ninth nationally against the run.
Fifth among Big Ten rushers this season at 116.5 yards per game, Wells has 1,165 yards for the season, the 20th best total in Ohio State history. An Ohio State back has rushed for 1,000 yards in a season 24 times previously; Antonio Pittman gained 1,233 ground yards last season.
Boeckman is 156-237 passing (65.8%) on the year for 1,965 yards, with 23 touchdown passes against just eight interceptions. His pass efficiency rating of 160.75 leads the Big Ten signalcallers and ranks Boeckman sixth nationally.
In the win at Penn State, he was 19-26 passing for 253 yards and three scores, earning him Big Ten player of the week honors. The Davey O’Brien Award semifinalist was 17-28 against Wisconsin with a pair of TDs to Brian Robiskie.
The junior from St. Henry, Ohio, tied an Ohio State record with 12 consecutive pass completions against Kent State (2) and Michigan State (10); the mark was originally established by Bill Mrukowski (1961), Mike Tomczak (1983), Jim Karsatos (1985) and Craig Krenzel (2002).
Boeckman has completed at least two touchdown passes in each game this season. His 23 scoring strikes rank him fourth among Ohio State single-season leaders; he is just two behind Joe Germaine’s 1998 total. Boeckman has completed a touchdown pass to seven different Buckeye receivers this season; his favorite target is Brian Robiskie, who has caught eight of those scores.
Brian Hartline broke an Ohio State record that had stood since 1950 with a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown in the Kent State win. The previous OSU best was an 87-yard return by Robert Demmel against Iowa in 1950. Hartline was awarded Big Ten special teams player of the week honors.
At Purdue, Shaun Lane forced a fumble on a second-quarter Boilermaker kick return that was recovered by Aaron Gant.
Against Northwestern, Larry Grant blocked a Wildcat punt; Grant also blocked a Washington field goal attempt the previous week.
At Washington, James Scott recovered a fumble of a Husky kickoff return. Tyler Moeller blocked a punt in the season opener against Youngstown State. A fumble forced by Shaun Lane on a Wisconsin punt return was overturned by penalty.
COACHING STAFF ASSIGNMENTS
On the field:
In the booth:
Tops among those are: Kirk Barton (37); James Laurinaitis (23); Malcolm Jenkins (23); Vernon Gholston (21); Marcus Freeman (21); Alex Boone (20); Steve Rehring (20); and Rory Nicol (18).
First-time starters for the Buckeyes this season (17): Nader Abdallah, Jake Ballard, Todd Boeckman, Chimdi Chekwa, Kurt Coleman, Jim Cordle, Todd Denlinger, Cameron Heyward, Dionte Johnson, Dexter Larimore, Ben Person, Rob Rose, Dane Sanzenbacher, Ray Small, Chris Wells, Lawrence Wilson and Doug Worthington.
QUICK STRIKES AND LONG GRINDS
At Minnesota, the Buckeyes covered 98 yards in four plays in just 0:57 for a 52-yard touchdown pass from Todd Boeckman to Brian Robiskie. Ohio State covered 54 yards on four plays in 1:22, culminating in a four-yard TD run by Chris Wells.
Ohio State needed just 1:10 to get on the scoreboard against Northwestern on a 42-yard TD pass from Boeckman to Robiskie.
The Buckeyes scored on drives of 0:57, 0:31, 0:57 and 1:42 at Washington. Against Northwestern, Ohio State had drives of 1:10, 0:52, 1:33, 0:48, 1:22 and 0:03.
In the Wisconsin win, Ohio State had speedy drives of 0:09, 1:40 and 1:48.
But when the Buckeyes need to control the ball, they can do that too. Fifteen scoring drives have lasted 4:00 or more, and 12 have been 10 plays or more.
NEW NAME, NEW ADDRESS
Both namings recognize generous donations by those individuals and their families to The Ohio State University.
AVERAGE PER DOWN
On first down, the Buckeyes have run a total of 302 plays, gaining 2,028 yards for an average of 6.7 per play. On second down, OSU has tried 226 plays for 1,298 yards, a 5.7 average. On third down, the Buckeyes have run 137 plays, gaining 905 yards for a 6.6 average. Ohio State has tried only nine fourth-down attempts, gaining 25 yards.
Ohio State’s touchdowns this season have come 11 times on first down (six rushing and five passing TDs), 11 times on second down (six rush and five pass), 15 times on third down (13 pass and two rush) and once on fourth down (a rushing score).
MAKE THEM PUNT
AGAINST RANKED TEAMS
Ohio State faced its first ranked opponent of the 2007 campaign at Purdue. The Boilermakers were ranked No. 20 in the USA Today coaches’ poll and No. 23 in the Associated Press media poll. Penn State was ranked No. 22 in the USA Today and No. 24 in the Associated Press polls. Wisconsin was ranked No. 19 in the USA Today poll.
IN NIGHT GAMES
Ohio State is 25-10 in road night games since 1959 and 31-11 in night games all-time.
HELMET STICKERS SUPPORT RON SPRINGS
NOT SINCE 1922-24
SUCCESS AGAINST THE BEST
Michigan tops the all-time victories list (868-282-36), Notre Dame is second (822-271-42) and Texas ranks fourth (817-312-33). The Buckeyes are fifth all-time with 797 wins and Penn State is sixth (787). Illinois (556) and Iowa (556) rank in the Top 50 on the all-time wins list.
WHERE THEY GO NEXT