Fiesta Bowl wins give Buckeyes series lead

(*19*)(*5*)(*6*)(*7*)(*3*)(*30*)(*28*)Troy Smith had a huge game in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame (*26*)(Photo- 247Sports)(*27*)


Ohio State then blew a big scoring chance of its own. After the Buckeyes had driven 56 yards down to the ND 15, Smith mistimed a pitch to Ginn and the ball was recovered by ND’s Ndukwe at the Irish 9-yard line with 8-56 left in the half.

The OSU defense held and forced a punt, but the Irish downed it at the OSU 2-yard line. No matter, the Buckeyes needed four plays to go 98 yards and find the end zone for the third time. Smith scrambled for 9 yards to convert a third down. Then on first down from the 15, Smith faked and threw deep down the middle to Holmes. Once again, Ndukwe and Wooden were the nearest defenders. Holmes caught it at 50-yard line and rolled the rest of the way. He was flagged for excessive celebration as ND’s Tom Zbikowski converged near the goal line, but it was still an 85-yard touchdown that put the Buckeyes up 21-7 with 2-21 left in the first half.

(*15*) Holmes said. “We feel all the time we had a chance to get behind those guys.”

Quinn was then victimized by a pair of dropped passes, allowing OSU to get the ball back on a punt with 1-47 left. Smith led OSU into the red zone, completing 4 of 5 passes for 42 yards. But the Buckeyes ran out of time and had to settle for Huston’s 28-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the half. But ND’s Ndukwe blocked the attempt to end the half.

OSU held a 21-7 halftime lead despite a pair of turnovers and in spite of a pair of missed opportunities. In the first half, the Buckeyes rolled up 391 yards and 18 first downs.

Weis said he wanted to change the tempo of the game in the second half.

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(*13*) Weis said. (*17*)

The teams traded punts to open the second half before OSU moved 30 yards down to the ND 29. On fourth-and-6 there, though, Huston had his 46-yard field goal blocked by ND’s Trevor Laws with 7-18 left in the third quarter.

The Notre Dame offense, held largely in check since its game opening drive, then came to life. The Irish drove 71 yards in 10 plays. Quinn hit Matt Shelton for a 21-yard gain and then went to Maurice Stovall for a 19-yard gain on a slant. Shelton then made a sliding grab of a 13-yard pass for a first down at the 18. Finally, on third-and-2 from the OSU 10, Quinn looked as if he would pass and instead handed to Walker. He rolled through a big hole up the middle, juked OSU’s Salley at the 5 and scored on the 10-yard touchdown run.

D.J. Fitzpatrick’s PAT kick was just wide right, but Notre Dame had trimmed the gap to 21-13 with 4-25 left in the third quarter.

Ohio State then took possession at its own 35 after ND’s kickoff went out of bounds. On first down there, Smith threw to Ginn in the left flat. ND’s Wooden slipped on the play, allowing Ginn to roll for 44 yards down the sideline until Zbikowski saved the touchdown at the ND 21.

But one of the game’s biggest plays came on third-and-12 at the ND 23. Smith threw underneath to Anthony Gonzalez, who appeared to fumble the ball. Zbikowski swooped in, picked it up and returned it 88 yards for an apparent touchdown, although the score would have been negated by a block-in-the-back penalty on the Irish. But the entire play was negated, though, when the replay official from the SEC called for a review.

Upon review, it was determined that Gonzalez did not have possession for a pass completion. It was ruled an incomplete pass and the Buckeyes, thankfully, retained possession. Huston came on and was finally able to avoid a blocked field goal. His 40-yard kick put Ohio State ahead 24-13 with 2-20 left in the third quarter.

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After forcing a Notre Dame punt, OSU drove 50 yards down to the ND 9. The key play was Smith’s 17-yard rollout pass to Roy Hall for a first down at the ND 16. But when Smith came up 3 yards shy of a first down on a third-down keeper, Huston came on and made a 26-yard field goal to push the lead to 27-13 with 10-12 left in the game.

Notre Dame answered with a had-to-have, methodical 13-play, 80-yard scoring march. Quinn converted a fourth down pass to Stovall for 16 yards, setting up Walker’s 3-yard scoring plunge. The officials originally ruled Walker down at the 1, but replay overturned the call when it was clear Walker put the ball across the plane of the goal line. The touchdown trimmed the OSU lead to 27-20 with 5-27 left.

Notre Dame kicked deep and tried to stop the Buckeyes to get the ball back. But ND was unsuccessful as Smith completed key third-down passes to Pittman for 10 yards and Gonzalez for 15. Finally, on first down at the OSU 40, Pittman took the ball going left and beat everybody to the corner and down the sideline for the game-clinching 60-yard touchdown with 1-46 left.

(*18*) Pittman said. (*2*)

Trailing by two touchdowns and with just two timeouts left, Notre Dame barely mounted a challenge on its final possession.

As the final seconds ticked off, OSU faithful in the north end zone chanted, (*24*)

Also Notable

* The 85-yard touchdown pass to Holmes stands as the second longest TD pass in OSU history, trailing an 86-yard touchdown from Art Schlichter against Washington State in 1979. Holmes also has the fourth longest pass in OSU history, catching an 80-yarder from Justin Zwick against Marshall in 2004.

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* This was the sixth time this season Smith eclipsed 200 yards passing. He ended the year throwing for 2,282 yards and 16 touchdowns against four interceptions. Smith is now 13-2 in his career as a starter and has 24 career TDs against seven interceptions.

He becomes the first Ohio State quarterback to pass for more than 2,000 yards and rush for more than 500 yards in the same season.

Smith ended the game with 408 yards in total offense, the most-ever for a Buckeye in a bowl game, surpassing the 330 yards by Steve Bellisari against South Carolina in the 2002 Outback Bowl.

* Holmes ended the year with 11 touchdown grabs and 24 for his career, the third highest total in OSU history.

* Ginn ended the year with seven touchdowns, six of which were 58 yards or longer. In his career he now has 15 TDs with 12 of them going 58 yards or longer.

* Pittman enjoyed his seventh 100-yard game of the year and eighth of his career. He finished the year with 1,331 yards and seven touchdowns on 250 carries. That yardage total is the 10th highest single-season total in school history.

* Tressel improved to 50-13 after five years as the OSU coach and 185-70-2 in 20 years as a college head coach.

* Ohio State ended up ranked fourth nationally in the final AP poll. The Buckeyes would take the winning streak to 19 games by winning their first 12 games in 2006 before losing to Florida in the BCS national championship game.

(*19*)(*8*)(*9*)(*10*)(*4*)(*30*)(*28*)Jim Tressel holds up the trophy following OSU’s 2006 Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame (*26*)(Photo- USA TODAY Sports)(*27*)


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