No stopping Ohio State, Michigan

Published October 29, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State's defense is proving that experience is overrated.

As quarterback Troy Smith added to his Heisman Trophy candidacy by running for one touchdown and throwing for another, top-ranked Ohio State's defense dominated in a 44-0 victory Saturday over Minnesota.

"Everybody anticipated a dropoff with the caliber of players they lost last year," Minnesota coach Glen Mason said of the Buckeyes, who replaced nine defensive starters. "I don't see any dropoff, nor have the other people who have played them. They're a fine defensive team."

Antonio Pittman rushed for two scores for the Buckeyes, who have won every game this season by at least 17. They play Illinois and Northwestern the next two weeks before the regular-season finale, a possible No. 1 vs. No. 2 game at home against Michigan Nov. 18.

"Putting points on the board is cool but I guess the way you do it, how you do it, is the most important thing," Smith said. "We've just got to keep rolling."

The Buckeyes, who tied for the national lead in fewest points allowed (8.2 a game), intercepted Minnesota's Bryan Cupito three times.

Jack Nicklaus, a former OSU golfer who grew up near Columbus, received a thunderous ovation at halftime when he "dotted the 'i' " in the marching band's signature move, Script Ohio. He became the fifth non-band member so honored, joining lengendary former coach Woody Hayes, former OSU president Novice Fawcett, comedian Bob Hope and longtime university ticket director Bob Ries.

No. 2 Michigan 17, Northwestern 3

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - For Michigan, it was another day to rely on the tough running of Mike Hart and swarming defense for a rain-soaked win.

For Northwestern, it was progress.

The Wolverines stayed on track and unbeaten, facing Ball State next week, then Indiana before the Ohio State game.

The Wildcats, 30-point underdogs for UM's homecoming, hung tough a week after blowing a 35-point lead against Michigan State.

Northwestern trailed 10-3 midway through the third quarter when Michigan cornerback Leon Hall intercepted C.J. Bacher's pass and set up the Wolverines at the Northwestern 36. Hart gained 23 yards on fourth and 2 and, two plays later, ran untouched into the end zone from the 3 to make it 17-3 with 4:05 left in the third quarter.