A dominant defense has carried unbeaten Ohio State to the top of the Big Ten. It should be more than enough to carry it to a 25th straight regular-season victory.
The third-ranked Buckeyes look to avoid a potential letdown Saturday afternoon when they play their final non-conference game of the season against Kent State at Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State (6-0) has hardly been tested in its first six games, winning by an average of 26.5 points.
Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Ohio State -31 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game, the over/under has been set at 48.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 65% of bets for this have been placed on Ohio State -31 (View College Football bet percentages).
Facing a ranked team for the first time this season, the Buckeyes had no trouble Saturday in a 23-7 victory over then-No. 23 Purdue.
Todd Boeckman passed for 200 yards and two touchdowns and Ryan Pretorius made all three of his field-goal attempts in support of another stellar defensive effort. Ohio State limited Purdue, which entered averaging 45 points and 496 yards per game, to 272 total yards.
"I didn't think that their offense had seen a defense like ours," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said, "but still, it was their place, it was a big game, and they were all fifth-year seniors that have played against everything. Our guys did a great job."
The Buckeyes have allowed only 43 points, their lowest total through six games since the 1975 team gave up 36. They lead the nation in scoring defense (7.1) and are second in both total defense (210) and rush defense (46.5).
Ohio State, which shares the Big Ten lead with Illinois, moved up one spot in the AP Top 25 this week and now only trails No. 1 LSU and California.
"If we keep winning, then the rankings will take care of themselves," Boeckman said. "If we win the Big Ten, we know we're going to have a shot at the national championship."
Saturday's win was the 24th in a row during the regular season for the Buckeyes since a loss to Penn State on Oct. 8, 2005. They also have won 15 straight home games.
Ohio State's stifling defense has helped overcome the few mistakes the offense has made. Boeckman threw a career-high three interceptions against Purdue, but the Boilermakers didn't score until late in the fourth quarter.
"They're something else," Boeckman said of his defense. "It's nice when you go out there and they're shutting them out the whole game. They're a great defense, and it's nice to have around your back."
Kent State (3-3) figures to have a very difficult challenge Saturday when it faces the highest-ranked opponent in school history. The Golden Flashes are 0-8 all-time against the Big Ten, including a 51-17 loss in their only meeting versus the Buckeyes, on Sept. 7, 2002 in Columbus.
Kent State, which has traded wins and losses in its first six games, is 0-19 against ranked teams. It has lost its last two games versus Top 25 foes by a combined 55 points.
"We are not going to change our style of play, we are going to go out and run the same offense and defense that we have been running," Kent State coach Doug Martin said. "We have to shorten this game, we can't leave our defense on the field and it be a 40-minute possession advantage for Ohio State."
Despite having more first downs and twice as many rushing yards, Kent State was a 20-13 loser to Miami of Ohio on Saturday.
Sophomore Eugene Jarvis, ranked third in the nation with 851 rushing yards, was limited to a season-low 82 on 19 carries.
While not in the same class as Ohio State, Kent State also boasts a strong defense. The Golden Flashes lead the Mid-American Conference in scoring defense (24.8), total defense (332.7) and rush defense (143.8).
by: Anthony White - theSpread.com - Email Us
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