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The Inside Track | Chris Dufresne ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Krenzel Is a Matinee Idol Only to Ohio State Fans

September 01, 2003|Chris Dufresne

In terms of box-office star power and magnetism, Denzel Washington is always going to have it over Krenzel-Washington.

As a character actor, though, Ohio State senior quarterback Craig Krenzel continues to steal scenes from A-list performers.

It's funny that Krenzel is never mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate but is always compared to them.

It's also funny how often Krenzel comes out on top when pitted against all this "superior" competition.

Saturday night at Columbus, Washington trotted out quarterback Cody Pickett, the latest Heisman prospect to invade Krenzel's turf.

At game's end, it wasn't even close as to which player was the better pro prospect (Pickett) and which player dominated the game (Krenzel).

Pickett threw a prettier spiral and exhibited prototype NFL skills; Krenzel floated enough complete passes to keep the defense honest and, on foot, twice beat defenders to end-zone pylons.

It has happened too often now to be coincidence. You go into an Ohio State game hyping someone else and exit talking about Krenzel.

Last year, Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser's Heisman candidacy died in the dust of a 25-7 loss to Krenzel's Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium.

In the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, Krenzel faced a Miami team that featured two Heisman finalists, quarterback Ken Dorsey and tailback Willis McGahee.

Krenzel played both men off their feet and outperformed his own award-worthy teammate, Maurice Clarett.

Krenzel will never put up the kind of numbers that make voters want to punch his ballot.

No offense taken.

"I don't care if I throw the ball 10 times a game or 50 times," Krenzel said Saturday. "As long as we're moving the ball and scoring touchdowns and we're playing well and winning football games, that's all I care about."

Krenzel always has excelled at patience. He was so far down the depth chart in 2001 he was allowed to sit out a game to attend his sister's wedding. He is a 4.0 student majoring in molecular genetics and requires no preferential jock treatment in the classroom. In fact, in terms of Krenzel's pro potential versus his future in medical science, the NFL's gain might be society's loss.

Imagine the setback had Jonas Salk thrown a 95-mph fastball?

Krenzel is a better college passer than given credit for and faster than he looks, but he's certainly no Michael Vick.

What Krenzel does have is the uncanny knack of being good when it counts most.

On fourth and one against Purdue last year, there were no complaints about the 37-yard touchdown pass he tossed to Michael Jenkins to beat the Boilermakers, 10-6.

If that throw misses, kiss the national title goodbye.

Against Miami, when Ohio State needed to convert on fourth and 15 in overtime to stave off defeat, Krenzel hit Jenkins on the numbers for 17 yards and a first down.

In the end, Krenzel does so many little things to help his team win you tend to overlook the big things.

Weekend Wrap

Conference of the week: The Pacific 10 went 6-1 against nonconference foes, which included road wins by USC and Oregon against the vaunted Southeastern Conference. They take football seriously in the South, although Auburn obviously didn't take USC seriously enough. Die-hard SEC fans assume Pac-10 teams are inherently soft, an argument Washington could not challenge in its lackluster effort against Ohio State. USC's defense, however, is unlike any other in the conference since the best days of Arizona's "Desert Swarm."

It may not make amends, but ... with all the water beleaguered Mississippi State Coach Jackie Sherrill figures to be treading after Saturday's loss to Oregon, we hear Nike has agreed to fit the coach with a custom-made life vest.

Conference of the weak: Atlantic Coast. Considering Maryland's overtime loss to Northern Illinois and Georgia Tech's loss at Brigham Young, the ACC may ask Miami and Virginia Tech to join the league next week instead of next year.

We kid you not: Ohio State's Fiesta Bowl victory over Miami is being shown virtually around-the-clock on a jumbo-screen television in the Columbus Airport. DVDs of the epic game are on sale for $34.99.

Is this right? While sophomore tailback Clarett remains suspended from the Ohio State roster for allegedly violating his amateur status, his No. 13 uniform jersey is being sold for $50 at souvenir stands in Ohio Stadium.

This campaign may be as over as Gary Coleman's: As of late Sunday, Miami of Ohio quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's updated stats from the Iowa game had not been posted on WherehaveyouBen.com, the Web link the school started to promote the player's Heisman Trophy hopes. No rush, really. In Saturday's 21-3 loss to Iowa, Roethlisberger completed 27 of 42 passes for 250 yards with four interceptions.

BCS busted ... again? Colorado State's weekend loss to Colorado all but assures no school from a non-bowl championship series conference will compete for a spot in a major bowl game this year. Colorado State was considered the non-BCS school with the best shot at finishing sixth or higher in the final BCS rankings.

Looking ahead this weekend to:

* Washington State at Notre Dame. Irish try to shake off last week's transfers of the Olsen brothers, Chris and Greg. However, the Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley, reaffirmed their support for the program.

* Florida at Miami. Halftime guest Steve Irwin appears on Orange Bowl big screen to explain difference between crocodiles and alligators.

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