Big Ten: Star's parting TD keys Buckeye rout

Associated Press
Published November 13, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A.J. Hawk got his career at Ohio Stadium going with a touchdown, then said goodbye to a home crowd of 105,000 the same way.

Troy Smith ran for two touchdowns and Hawk returned a blocked punt for another score to lead 10th-ranked Ohio State to a 48-7 victory over No. 25 Northwestern on Saturday, the Buckeyes' fifth consecutive win.

"I've been coaching football for 30 years," Northwestern coach Randy Walker said. "I've seen a lot of good football players, but I haven't seen any better than A.J. Hawk."

It was the second career touchdown for Hawk, the All-America linebacker and Butkus Award finalist playing his final game at Ohio Stadium. His other touchdown came in his second game as a freshman during the Buckeyes' national championship season in 2002, on an interception return against Kent State.

"It's special," Hawk said of his going-away score. "As a defensive guy, you don't get to score touchdowns very often. It's a great way to go out. It gives us great momentum going into next week."

Ohio State needs to win Saturday's annual showdown with Michigan to clinch at least a share of the conference title.

"As soon as the clock struck zero and the game was over, your mind goes straight to Michigan," center Nick Mangold said. "It's always in the back of your mind through the season. Now it's at the front of your mind."

The Buckeyes scored at least 35 for the fifth game in a row, a streak in which they've won by an average of 42-15, but it was their defense that paved the way. They have scored at least 35 in five consecutive games for the first time since Woody Hayes coached them in 1974.

Northwestern's Brett Basanez went in averaging 316 yards passing, fifth in the nation, but was held to 121 while completing 15 of 31 passes with one interception.

Meanwhile, Ohio State used a multifaceted offense to move the ball almost at will. Smith was 7-of-12 for 77 yards with one interception and ran 11 times for 75 yards before he and most of the rest of the starters took the fourth quarter off.

Iowa 20, No. 19 Wisconsin 10

MADISON, Wis. - The Hawkeyes ruined Barry Alvarez's going-away party, the coach's final home game.

Alvarez, who will step down after this season but remain the Badgers' athletic director, built a program over the past 16 seasons that has been known for a punishing running game and a solid defense. But Iowa dominated both sides of the ball in the final three quarters.

Iowa became bowl-eligible and ended Wisconsin's slim hopes of sharing the conference title.

Wisconsin seemed poised to send Alvarez out a winner, taking a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. But Iowa clamped down from there, holding the Badgers to 72 more yards until their last drive with the game out of reach.

No. 21 Michigan 41, Indiana 14

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Chad Henne had three touchdown passes in the first half as the Wolverines built a huge lead and coasted without scoring after halftime.

Michigan won its fourth straight, avoiding a letdown coming off a bye and heading into the regular-season finale against Ohio State. The Hoosiers fell out of bowl contention with their fifth consecutive loss and 14th in a row to Michigan.

Indiana scored on the opening drive of the game, then Michigan took control.

Henne's passing, Kevin Grady's two TD runs and Steve Breaston's 201 all-purpose yards gave the Wolverines a 41-7 lead at halftime. It was Michigan's highest-scoring first half since it scored 45 against Indiana in 2000.

MINN. 41, MICHIGAN ST. 18: With Laurence Maroney, the conference's leading rusher, stuck on the sideline, backups Amir Pinnix and Gary Russell led the host Golden Gophers.

Maroney, who has 1,345 yards, went through warmups but sat out with an injured ankle. Pinnix and Russell wore down the Spartans, who once were ranked 11th in the AP poll but lost for the fifth time in six games.

Russell started at tailback, played only the first half and gained 85 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns. Pinnix rushed 32 times for 206 yards, both career highs, and had a fourth-quarter score.

PURDUE 37, ILLINOIS 3: Jerod Void ran for 102 yards and a touchdown to lead the host Boilermakers to their second straight victory after six consecutive losses. Purdue won't play in a bowl game, but it saved itself from finishing last in the conference after starting the season ranked 15th in the country.