EDITOR’S NOTE – This season marks the 10-year anniversary of Ohio State’s 2002 national championship season. We will share stories on all 14 of OSU’s wins that season, including this look at the win over Indiana. That game was played exactly 10 years ago today on Sept. 28, 2002.
Chris Gamble took a reverse 43 yards for a TD vs. Indiana
Ohio State continues to act, look and feel like a contender in the Big Ten this season, and the sixth-ranked Buckeyes wasted no time in proving it in their conference opener.
OSU shrugged off a scare at Cincinnati the week before and used a workmanlike effort to dispatch Indiana 45-17 before 104,194 at Ohio Stadium.
"I think we did some things well and there are still some things we need to improve on," said OSU coach Jim Tressel, whose team improved to 5-0. "We felt much better in the second half. I thought we had a little more of a 'we want to put this away' attitude."
The Buckeyes benefited greatly from the return to action of freshman tailback phenom Maurice Clarett, who returned after missing the Cincinnati game after undergoing arthroscopic surgery.
Clarett enjoyed his third 100-yard game in four starts, going for 104 yards and three touchdowns in 21 carries.
"The more reps you get during a game, the easier it comes," Clarett said. "You get to know what their defense is going to do and you can pick and choose where you want to run the ball."
The Hoosiers (2-3) made it interesting by scoring a touchdown with 2:09 left in the first half to cut the OSU lead to 14-10.
But the Buckeyes answered with a touchdown just before halftime and two more to open the second half -- one coming after a blocked punt by OSU's Dustin Fox -- in building a 35-10 lead before they cruised to the win.
"The biggest disappointments to me were the blocked punt and our offense's inability to move the ball in the second half," said first-year Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo, who was making his Big Ten coaching debut.
"I don't know that we ever had control of the game ... (but) for us to get back into it in the second half we were going to have to play better than we did on offense."
OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel also looked good, completing 11 of 16 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown. He worked a good portion of the game out of the shotgun in four- and five-wide receiver sets.
Wide receiver Michael Jenkins had seven catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Flanker Chris Gamble added a 43-yard touchdown on a reverse.
Backup quarterback Scott McMullen was a perfect 7 for 7 for 65 yards late in the game, leading OSU to its final touchdown.
The OSU defense settled down after allowing that IU touchdown before the half. The Buckeyes held IU to 80 yards on their first three second-half possessions and kept the Hoosiers scoreless in the second half until they scored against the reserves with 3:14 left.
"I think it was good for the defense to bounce back after a not-so-good performance against Cincinnati," said OSU's Darrion Scott, who finished with a team-high six tackles and a sack. "It was good to hold a team under 20 points."
Indiana quarterback Gibran Hamdan finished 16 of 26 for 210 yards and a touchdown.
OSU dealt with several injury situations. On offense, Adrien Clarke opened at left guard in place of Mike Stafford and freshman Rob Sims started at left tackle in place of Ivan Douglas.
Defensively, defensive tackle Tim Anderson sat out after suffering a calf injury against UC. David Thompson started in place of him, while Scott moved inside from end to start in place of tackle Kenny Peterson and Simon Fraser replaced Scott at end.
As It Happened
OSU opened the scoring on its second possession. An IU face mask penalty on the punt gave the Buckeyes possession at midfield. It took 12 plays to find the end zone.
Krenzel stepped up and converted a third down with a 9-yard pass to Clarett. The Buckeyes went for it on fourth-and-1 at the OSU 19. Clarett went behind left guard and encountered IU's Herana-Daze Jones at the line of scrimmage. But he churned Jones forward for 7 yards down to the 12.
Clarett did the rest, carrying twice for 5 yards, before following right guard for the 2-yard touchdown. On the TD, he plowed through a pile of no fewer than four IU defenders, including Jones, Jodie Clemons, Damien Jones and Buster Larkins. The run put OSU up 7-0 with 39 seconds left in the first quarter.
Indiana answered with a 10-play, 48-yard scoring march. The drive bogged down on third-and-15 at the OSU 33 as Fraser and Cie Grant pressured Hamdan into an incompletion. Bryan Robertson came on and hit a 49-yard field goal to cut the OSU lead to 7-3 with 12:16 left in the first half.
The teams exchanged punts before OSU and Clarett found the end zone again. This time it was a six-play, 44-yard scoring march. The key play was Krenzel's 27-yard slant pass to Jenkins on third-and-4 at the IU 28.
That set up Clarett's 1-yard touchdown plunge behind center Alex Stepanovich, putting the Buckeyes up 14-3 with 5:42 left in the half.
But Hamdan and the Hoosiers mounted their most impressive push of the day, moving 80 yards in eight plays to tighten things up.
IU's Travis Haney picked up 13 yards on a reverse before an OSU coverage mixup allowed Hamdan to find fullback John Pannozzo for a 41-yard gain down to the OSU 12.
Three plays later, Hamdan stepped up under blitz pressure and found Tyke Spencer in the end zone in front of OSU's Will Allen for a 17-yard touchdown, cutting the OSU lead to 14-10 with 2:09 left in the half.
But the Buckeyes answered with a strong five-play, 45-yard scoring march to extend the lead. Again, IU was guilty of a key personal foul as Antonio Watson was flagged for a late hit out of bounds on the kickoff return by Gamble.
Then, after an OSU holding penalty on Bryce Bishop negated a 21-yard run by Krenzel, Krenzel found Gamble for a 21-yard gain on a wide receiver screen. He then hit Chris Vance for a 15-yard gain and did likewise to Jenkins down to the IU 4.
Clarett capped the drive, going right for the 4-yard touchdown. He was collared by IU's A.C. Carter at the 2, but was able to fall forward and put the ball on the goal line for the touchdown that put the Buckeyes up 21-10 with 38 seconds left in the half.
The Buckeyes then came out of the half with a quick five-play, 86-yard touchdown march. Clarett carried on the first four plays, netting 43 yards. Those plays were the perfect set-up for what came next as Krenzel faked a handoff to Clarett and gave it off to Gamble on a reverse. He motored 43 yards down the right sideline for the touchdown and a 28-10 lead with 12:25 left in the third quarter.
"On that opening drive of the second half, we ran four straight running plays and then Chris Gamble hit the reverse," Tressel said. "That was a huge momentum change because I felt after that there was no question who was going to be in command of the game."
Gamble took the handoff near midfield, sprinted around the right corner and tightroped the sideline to score his first collegiate touchdown.
"When I got the ball, I just wanted to score," said Gamble, a sophomore. "It felt real good scoring the first touchdown of my career. I saw a lot of people blocking. I just was able to hit the hole and run for the touchdown."
OSU's Fox then blocked a punt by IU's Ryan Hamre. The Buckeyes took possession at the IU 18 with 8:43 left in the third.
The Buckeyes needed just four plays to find the end zone. Krenzel stepped up and found Vance for an 11-yard gain down to the 5. Clarett got 1 yard on first down before Krenzel audibled and threw a perfect fade to Jenkins for the 4-yard touchdown over IU's Damien Jones to put the Buckeyes up 35-10 with 6:38 left in the third.
"I've been hinting to the coaches to go three wide receivers and throw it at the goal line," Jenkins said.
OSU's Mike Nugent then made a career-long 51-yard field goal - which appeared good by as far as 55 - to make it 38-10 with 1:20 left.
"It felt really good," said Nugent, who is now 9 of 9 on field goals this year. "It felt solid."
Indiana drove down to the OSU 12, but Hamdan was stopped by linebacker Matt Wilhelm on fourth down with 11:12 remaining.
The Buckeyes then drove for their final touchdown, with reserve tight end Redgie Arden catching three passes from backup quarterback Scott McMullen along the way. McMullen's 15-yard fade to Jenkins capped the drive and put the Buckeyes up 45-10 with 5:43 left.
"There was no safety coming over to the middle of the field," Jenkins said. "That's something we've worked on a lot in practice and we hit it in the game."
McMullen added, "That was exactly the same play they hit before. Both of the defensive backs pressured and there was no safety back there. We just ran the fade and put it out there to let him go get it."
Indiana capped the scoring on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Tom Jones to Courtney Roby with 3:04 left. Jones hit Roby in stride on a fourth-down crossing route and the receiver, hit at the goal line by an OSU defender, leaped and landed on his head in the end zone to get the score.
* OSU improved to 61-12-5 all-time against Indiana, including 40-10-4 in Columbus.
The Buckeyes improved to 11-0-1 in their last 12 meetings with Indiana, upping their win streak to 10 straight. IU defeated OSU in 1987 in Columbus and a year later in Bloomington.
* The Buckeyes have now won nine of their last 10 Big Ten openers. The lone defeat was in 1999 against Wisconsin.
OSU is now 13-1-1 in Big Ten openers against Indiana. The lone loss was a 7-6 decision in 1913, OSU's first season in the then-Western Conference.
* Ohio State has now scored 40 or more points in three games this year, marking the first time that has happened since 1999.
OSU scored 40 or more four times in 1998.
Next Up: The Buckeyes visited Northwestern on Oct. 5, 2002.
Relive The Memories
You can still purchase our book on the 2003 Ohio State-Miami (Fla.) Fiesta Bowl, "The Greatest Game Ever Played," directly on eBay with a credit card.
You can click here for more details on the book, including sample pages of the cover, table of contents, my introduction and the chapter on the pivotal second overtime.
To order directly online, click this link for eBay.
Or you may send a check or money order for $20 ($17 for the book, $3 for shipping) to:
P.O. Box 34
Pataskala, OH 43062
Allow 2 weeks for shipping.