|Ohio State stumbles again, LSU leads 31-17 after three quarters at BCS championship|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 07 January 2008 18:24|
Ohio State struck for a quick touchdown against its Southeastern Conference opponent but was on the verge of a second straight loss in the title game, trailing LSU 31-17 through three quarters Monday night.
Matt Flynn, the quarterback who didn't get a chance to become the fulltime starter until his senior season, was trying to close his career with a flourish. He threw three touchdown passes for the Tigers, who scored 31 straight points after falling behind 10-0 on Ohio State's first two possessions.
``SEC! SEC! SEC!'' the purple-and-gold faithful chanted as their team pulled away, though Flynn's first big mistake of the night gave the Buckeyes a glimmer of hope heading to the final period.
In last year's BCS title game, Ohio State never had a chance in a 41-14 loss to Florida. This year they closed within two TDs of the Tigers after Flynn was picked off by Malcolm Jenkins and Todd Boeckman hit Brian Robiskie with a 5-yard scoring pass on a do-or-die, fourth-down play late in the third.
LSU (11-2) was trying to win a second straight title for the SEC and its second BCS crown in five seasons - following largely the same formula used by Florida 364 days earlier.
In this one, the Buckeyes (11-1) jumped ahead on a 65-yard touchdown run by Chris ``Beanie'' Wells on the fourth play from scrimmage.
The Tigers were down by 10 before they had a first down, but LSU took control with a three-touchdown outburst in the second period.
Flynn hooked up with Richard Dickson on a 13-yard touchdown and Brandon LaFell from 10 yards out; an interception by Chevis Jackson set up LSU's final score of the brilliant period, a 1-yard plunge by bruising runner Jacob Hester.
LSU wrapped up its 31-point run on Flynn's 4-yard touchdown pass to Early Doucet with 9 minutes left in the third. The Ohio State fans looked on in silence, having seen this before during the rout in the Arizona desert.
Wells had 128 yards rushing. Boeckman, the replacement for 2006 Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, was 8-of-15 for 119 yards.
Flynn was having his way with an Ohio State defense that had been the stingiest in the nation during the regular season. The big Texan was 16-of-23 for 161 yards, while Hester chipped in 76 yards on the ground.
After a slow start, an LSU defense being led for the final time by Ohio State grad Bo Pellini managed to slow the Buckeyes. Pellini is heading to Nebraska as head coach when this one is over.
Say this for Ohio State: They sure know how to start quick in these title games. After converting on third down, Wells took a handoff and headed left, then made a quick cut to his right and was gone - clearly showing the SEC doesn't have a monopoly on speed.
He left LSU All-American safety Craig Steltz in the dust to give the Buckeyes the lead just 1:26 into the game. Back on the sideline, Wells was congratulated by former Ohio State star Ted Ginn, a bit of symmetry with last year's title game in Arizona.
In that one, Ginn returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown against Florida, but it was a Gatorfest the rest of the way.
With much less star power, Ohio State made it to the championship game for the second year in a row, this time as an underdog despite the No. 1 ranking.
On their second possession, the Buckeyes struck for another big play. With Wells lingering near the line of scrimmage as a possible receiver, Brandon Saine slipped behind two defensive backs and hauled in a 44-yard pass from Boeckman.
The LSU defense stiffened there, forcing Ohio State to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Ryan Pretorius that made it 10-0.
Finally showing signs of life, the Tigers converted three times on third down before stalling too. Colt David punched through a 32-yard field goal that got LSU back within a touchdown heading to the second quarter.
With the score tied at 10, Ohio State showed signs of regaining the momentum. The Buckeyes drove deep into LSU territory and positioned themselves for a 38-yard field goal try by Pretorius to regain the lead.
But Ricky Jean-Francois bulled his way up the middle and knocked it down with his big right hand, and the LSU offense took it from there.
Another big mistake on special teams cost the Buckeyes dearly in the third quarter. Austin Spitler drew a personal foul for crashing into punter Patrick Fisher, the Tigers kept the ball and drove for the touchdown that stretched their lead to 31-10.
LSU won its first BCS title on this very same field at the Superdome, just 75 miles from its Baton Rouge campus. The Tigers, who defeated Oklahoma in the 2004 title game but had to share the championship with Southern Cal, were looking to win a crown no one could dispute.
They had 15 minutes to go.