November 19, 2006

Tressel, Smith too good for rematch

Second-ranked Michigan played well, at least offensively.

But there is no reason for a rematch. That talk must stop.

The Wolverines could play No. 1 Ohio State 10 more times, and with all due respect, they'd go 0-10. Best-case scenario, 1-9.

I understand that might be hard for the Maize and Blue to swallow. So get a big glass of water to help it down, because it's true.

The Buckeyes (12-0) are the best team in the country. No matter which team you're a fan of, your team won't beat Ohio State either. Want to know why?

Two reasons: You don't have their coach, and you don't have their quarterback.

Yes, it's that simple. Jim Tressel wins big games. His game plans are impeccable, and he's simply the best play-caller in college football.

It doesn't hurt that the best player in the game is his quarterback. Troy Smith gave the OK for the engraver to get started on adding his name to the Heisman Trophy. Not that the T-r-o shouldn't have been on there already.

Ohio State racked up 503 total yards en route to ending Michigan's dream with a 42-39 victory in Columbus. The vaunted Wolverines defense was almost nowhere to be found. The Buckeyes passed for 316 yards and - more importantly - rushed for 187.

Let that sink in, Michigan fans. One-hundred-and-eighty-seven. The Wolverines defense had given up only 220 rushing yards in Big Ten games all season. It was yielding less than 30 yards per game on the ground.

Ohio State had more than twice that by halftime, including 52 on a touchdown right up the gut by true freshman Chris Wells. Clearly, Tressel saw something no one else had seen against Michigan. A nearly identical play worked for another long touchdown when Antonio Pittman ripped off a 56-yarder in the third quarter.

The Buckeyes defense didn't hold up too well, but no matter. This team is about Tressel, Smith and an array of weapons that strike fear in the hearts of opposing defensive coordinators because they can strike at any time.

First, there was Smith. He went 9-for-11 for 69 yards and a touchdown the first time Ohio State got its hands on the ball. He hit six different receivers, including a 27-yard completion to little-used senior wide receiver Roy Hall. Hall caught three balls on the drive, including a 2-yard touchdown; he had 10 catches all season entering the game.

Then there was Wells, whose 52-yarder was a thing of beauty. He made a twist near the line of scrimmage and burst out of a tackle, then showed excellent speed as he outraced the Michigan secondary to the end zone.

Smith burned Michigan with more of his maneuverability and rocket arm, hitting Brian Robiskie for 40 yards after spinning out of the pocket and away from trouble. Two plays later Smith found Ted Ginn Jr. after a nice play fake, and the result was a 39-yard touchdown. Ohio State had covered 91 yards in just four plays for a 21-7 lead midway through the second quarter.

The Wolverines hung around offensively, mostly because Mike Hart played like there should be an "e" in his last name. Ron English, who has done a terrific job in his first season as a defensive coordinator, simply could not come up with answers. Michigan tried to play zone, and Smith shredded it. The Wolverines blitzed, and Smith got rid of it quickly.

The same fate awaits Ohio State's next opponent. Play the Buckeyes straight up, or try your gimmicks. Tressel will put Smith in a position to make plays, and Smith will make nearly all of them.

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