Buckeye defense (re)turns tables

Published September 24, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio - In about the time it took 79-year-old Joe Paterno to jog to the locker room, Troy Smith and No. 1 Ohio State's defense turned a close game into a rout.

Smith threw an acrobatic 37-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, then Malcolm Jenkins and Antonio Smith returned interceptions for touchdowns as the Buckeyes beat No. 24 Penn State 28-6 on Saturday.

"In the Big Ten, it's always a four-quarter game," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "We won a four-quarter game."

Paterno, in his 41st season as Nittany Lions coach, ambled to the locker room midway through the second quarter because he was suffering from the flu on a rainy afternoon. He came back for the start of the second half, left again and returned for the start of the fourth quarter.

He got back just in time to see Smith turn a possible sack into a critical score as the Buckeyes expanded a 7-3 lead on Brian Robiskie's 37-yard touchdown catch.

"That play that Smith made when we almost had him, he threw that ball on the button in end zone," Paterno said. "That was a super play."

On a day when Penn State put the clamps on Smith and his favorite target, Ted Ginn (two catches for 15 yards), the Buckeyes persevered.

"The mark of a championship-caliber team is to keep plugging along - to keep going, keep going, keep going," said Smith, who said he went against a Tressel rule by reversing field on the pass to Robiskie. "I tried to improvise and keep things going."

With the Nittany Lions down eight, Jenkins picked off an Anthony Morelli pass and raced down the left sideline 61 yards for a score to make it 21-6 with 2:31 left. Antonio Smith sealed it with a 55-yard return minutes later.

No. 6 Michigan 27, Wisconsin 13

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Mario Manningham's second touchdown catch and fifth in two games put the Wolverines ahead late in the third quarter and helped them overcome a sluggish start.

Michigan scored 17 straight after it was 10-all to finish strong, a week after its dominating win at Notre Dame.

"A lot of people felt like we were going to have a hangover after Notre Dame, but we didn't," defensive end LaMarr Woodley said.

The Badgers took the lead twice in the first half but stalled after that as P.J. Hill, who entered atop the Big Ten at 138.3 yards rushing a game, was held to 54 on 20 carries against the nation's top-ranked run defense. The Wolverines also had four sacks.

No. 14 Iowa 24, Illinois 7

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Drew Tate passed for 190 yards and the Hawkeyes scored three touchdowns late in the second quarter.

Kirk Ferentz earned his 53rd victory as Iowa coach, putting him in sole possession of second place on the school's all-time list, ahead of Forest Evashevski and behind Hayden Fry, who won 143 games.

"The good news is, I don't think we've hit stride yet, or played our best football - I hope we haven't," said Ferentz, whose Hawkeyes next face Ohio State. "We going to have to find a way to upgrade that quickly in the next seven days because we're playing an outstanding (team). I can't remember Ohio State ever having a bad team."

Purdue 27, Minnesota 21: Curtis Painter passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns for the Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Ind. Running back Jaycen Taylor gained 110 total yards and scored twice for Purdue, which takes a seven-game winning streak into next week's game at Notre Dame. On fourth and 1 in the final minute with Purdue at the Minnesota 33, Kory Sheets ran 5 yards for the first down to clinch it.

Connecticut 14, Indiana 7: Danny Lansanah returned an interception for a touchdown and Lou Allen broke a tackle on his 35-yard scoring run for the Huskies in Bloomington, Ind. UConn outrushed the Hoosiers 257-0 and Indiana had 192 total yards.

LATE FRIDAY: Joe Garcia's 24-yard interception return in the fourth quarter sealed Nevada's 31-21 victory over visiting Northwestern.