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Ohio State Passes Another Test

October 01, 2006|From the Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The toughest part of Ohio State's schedule is behind the Buckeyes.

And Troy Smith and Co. handled it with ease.

Smith threw for 186 yards and four touchdowns, and No. 1 Ohio State picked up its second road win over a ranked opponent by manhandling No. 13 Iowa, 38-17, Saturday night.

Ohio State, 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten Conference, faced three ranked teams in September -- Texas, Penn State and Iowa -- and beat them all by at least 17 points.

"That's something we talked about, how brutal that September schedule is," Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel said. "We've played against some tough teams who brought all they could bring us."

Ohio State, which extended the nation's longest winning streak to 12 games, won't face another team currently ranked until their season finale against Michigan on Nov. 18.

Iowa (4-1, 1-1) fell to 0-10-1 against No. 1 teams and couldn't put up much of a fight in the most eagerly awaited game at Kinnick Stadium in more than 20 years.

The Buckeyes were only the fifth top-ranked team to visit Kinnick, the last being Miami, which beat Iowa, 24-7, in 1992. And the last game to generate this much buzz in Iowa came in 1985, when top-ranked Iowa beat No. 2 Michigan, 12-10.

All the buzz, and a loud sellout crowd, wasn't enough to stop the Buckeyes.

"By my vantage point, this is the best they've played all year," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said of the Buckeyes. "This wasn't an easy one to walk into as a visitor."

Ohio State broke open a 21-10 game with long scoring drives on its first two possessions of the second half. Anthony Gonzalez, who caught two touchdown passes, took the air out of the Kinnick crowd with a spectacular 30-yard touchdown catch that put the Buckeyes ahead, 28-10, early in the second half.

Gonzalez caught the ball on the left hash mark, cut back toward the right sideline -- using his hand to keep from falling down -- and fought through a tackle to reach the pylon.

Ohio State's next drive netted only an Aaron Pettrey field goal, but it took almost eight minutes off the clock and gave the Buckeyes a 21-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Hawkeyes pulled to within 31-17 on a four-yard touchdown pass from Drew Tate on fourth down. But Ohio State forced a fumble and two interceptions on Iowa's next three possessions. Smith put Iowa's comeback hopes to rest with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Brian Robiskie.

"He was in command the whole game," Tressel said of Smith. "I thought he was one of the elite ones [in the nation] before this game. But he keeps getting better."

Antonio Pittman and Chris Wells combined for 55 yards rushing on a 12-play, 89-yard scoring drive late in the second quarter. Smith capped it with a six-yard strike to seldom-used senior Roy Hall.

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