No. 24 Ohio State 33, Oklahoma State 7

Wednesday, December 29th 2004, 6:19 am
By: News On 6

SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ Justin Zwick hardly looked like a quarterback who had been on the bench for more than two months.

Zwick replaced suspended starter Troy Smith and threw for 189 yards and a touchdown in his first action for Ohio State since Oct. 16, and Ted Ginn Jr. and Lydell Ross each scored Wednesday night as the 24th-ranked Buckeyes defeated Oklahoma State 33-7 to win the Alamo Bowl.

``Justin did an excellent job and did what was asked of him,'' Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. ``I told someone that Justin was playing as best as he's ever played.''

Zwick, who lost the starting job to fellow sophomore Smith after the sixth game of the regular season, completed 17 of 27 passes despite a mild hamstring pull.

``If any of you have played with a pulled hamstring, well, it's pretty painful,'' Tressel said. ``Justin did an excellent job.''

Zwick, who rode a stationary bicycle on the sideline so his hamstring didn't tighten, wasn't about to pass on the chance to end the season on a positive note.

``You've got to go back in,'' he said. ``I just did what I had to.''

The Buckeyes went 3-3 under Zwick to start the season before he injured a shoulder in a loss to Iowa. Smith stepped in and led Ohio State (8-4) to victories in four of its last five games.

But Smith was suspended for the Alamo Bowl by the team last week after university officials said he accepted an unspecified gift from a team booster _ a violation of NCAA rules.

Tressel declined to talk about what's next for the football program, which has been marred this season by a series of arrests and allegations by former star player Maurice Clarett that players routinely took cash gifts from boosters.

``I'm happy for the team and excited for the future,'' Tressel said.

Ginn, a true freshman with dazzling speed, caught six passes for 78 yards and rushed for another 51 yards and a touchdown. Ross rushed for 99 yards on 12 carries, and Mike Nugent kicked four field goals for the Buckeyes to become the school's career scoring leader.

Ohio State took advantage of two early turnovers, and never let the Cowboys (7-5) get anything going offensively.

Oklahoma State quarterback Donovan Woods completed 15 of 34 passes for 137 yards and rushed for another 80 yards. Vernand Morency, one of the nation's top rushers this season, was limited to 24 yards on eight carries.

On the first series, Woods underthrew receiver Chijuan Mack and the pass was picked off by linebacker Bobby Carpenter. Three plays later, Zwick hit a diving Anthony Gonzalez with a 23-yard touchdown pass.

After a 37-yard field goal by Nugent, the Cowboys were driving when Woods lost his grip on the ball near midfield while trying to run up the middle. Defensive lineman Joel Penton recovered and Nugent capped the drive with a 35-yard field goal to give Ohio State a 13-0 lead with nearly six minutes remaining in the first quarter.

``We could not move the football or protect our passer effectively,'' Cowboys coach Les Miles said. ``It was difficult for (Woods) to throw.''

In the second, with the Buckeyes at midfield, Zwick threw to a screen pass to Ginn on the left side and the Cowboys cornered him for what looked like a modest gain.

But Ginn eluded three tacklers and broke back to the right sideline for a 42-yard pickup to Oklahoma State's 9. Ross capped the 78-yard drive by scoring from the 1 and making it 20-0.

``I try to make something out of nothing if I get trapped,'' Ginn said. ``You've always got to keep your feet moving. You're always moving forward _ that's what we've been taught.''

When Nugent made the extra point following Ross' touchdown, he passed Pete Johnson as the Buckeyes' career scoring leader with 356 points.

Oklahoma State got into Ohio State territory for the first time on their final series of the half, but the drive ended with Jason Ricks missing a 42-yard field goal try.

Early in the third, Cowboys safety Jamie Thompson recovered a fumble by fullback Branden Joe at the Ohio State 34. A 17-yard run by Prentiss Elliott moved the ball to the 9, but the Buckeyes defense stiffened.

On fourth-and-long, Oklahoma State tried a run off a fake field goal, but the play was stopped six yards short.

The Buckeyes then marched 94 yards. Ross rushed for 45 on the drive, and Ginn had a 28-yard run before he took the snap in the shotgun and ran it in from the 5 to make it 30-0.

Oklahoma State scored its only points on a 4-yard touchdown run by Shawn Willis that capped an 80-yard drive midway through the fourth.