COLUMBUS, Ohio — On a day when the other eight Big Ten teams that were scheduled won, it looked like defending conference champion Ohio State might be the only loser.
With an offensive line that includes four new starters, and obviously missing injured All-American tailback Keith Byars, the Buckeyes struggled throughout the game against a fierce Pittsburgh defense that held them to 48 yards rushing in 39 attempts.
But Ohio State fielded a tough, opportunistic defense of its own that kept the Buckeyes in the game. Trailing, 7-3, in the fourth quarter, new starting quarterback Jim Karsatos, from Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, drove his team 65 yards and hit wide receiver Cris Carter with a one-yard touchdown pass with 4:19 remaining Saturday night to lift No. 9 Ohio State to a 10-7 victory.
Ohio State is 1-0, Pitt is 1-1.
The defensive struggle, played before a crowd of 88,518 in the first collegiate night game ever at 63-year-old Ohio Stadium, was decided on a fourth-and-goal play at the Panther one, the pass to Carter.
Said Ohio State Coach Earle Bruce: "Who would ever have thought Ohio State would throw the ball with a fourth down just a yard and a half away?"
Said Carter: "(The defender) jumped to the inside when I started to run at him. I guess he thought I was going to break inside. When I turned outside the ball was right there on the numbers."
After Carter's touchdown, Pitt had two more possessions, but a pass from quarterback John Congemi was intercepted at the Ohio State 43 by cornerback William White with 1:45 remaining, and a last-minute Panther drive died as time ran out.
Ohio State's winning drive covered 65 yards in 12 plays with the key play being a 19-yard pass from Karsatos to tailback John Wooldridge on third and 16 at the Pitt 27.
Pitt took a 7-3 lead at the 13:43 mark of the fourth period when Congemi engineered a five-play, 45-yard drive that culminated in a 14-yard pass from Congemi to Chuck Scales. Mark Brasco's conversion made it 7-3.
Earlier, the Buckeyes had broken a scoreless tie with 1:01 remaining in the first half, on a 29-yard field goal by Rich Spangler.
Karsatos completed 19 of 30 passes for 245 yards and the one touchdown.
Congemi completed 12 of 22 pass attempts for 141 yards.
Pitt tailback Charles Gladman, from Akron, Ohio, led all rushers with 103 yards in 20 carries. Ohio State's top ball carrier was Wooldridge, who filled in for Byars with 47 yards in 20 attempts.