SAN DIEGO The Brigham Young University football team got a crash course from the old school in Friday night's Holiday Bowl.
The Ohio State Buckeyes, in waxing BYU 47-17, took them back to class. It was a three-hour course, no charge. They introduced BYU to what they consider in Columbus, Ohio, to be the readin', writing' and 'rithmetic for the great game of football. Running.
In recent years, the Cougars have been, well, young geniuses. They have won one impressive load of football games throwing the ball. That act of insubordination made them look like a bunch of smart-aleck kids to the Buckeyes. Like the ones who come to grade school with a calculator and a word processor.
The Buckeyes played the school marm. And an ornery one at that. They showed the Cougars you can still win with what they consider the basics, i.e., jamming the ball down your opponent's throat. BYU can have its newfangled offense. Ohio State is happy with the way it's played the game for the last 90 years.
In this instructing, Ohio State whacked the Cougars across the knuckles with the ruler, so to speak. It administered the worst loss BYU has suffered since Arizona State beat the Cougars 52-12 in 1973.
"When it was 17-10 at halftime, I thought we should have been a little bit more in command," said OSU all-America linebacker Marcus Marek. "I thought it was going to be another of those Holiday Bowl barn-burners. Then we made a couple of stops and all heck broke loose after that."
In the third period, the Cougars were taught the joys of the ground game and beaten 17-0 in that 15-minute span. For all intents and purposes, the Cougars were eliminated when OSU kept chewing up yardage in five- to 10-yard gulps and BYU made some costly turnovers. An interception set up one touchdown, Casey Tiumalu fumbled on the kickoff and OSU recovered to set up a field goal, and soon the lesson had been taught.
"They really did what we thought they would," said BYU quarterback Steve Young, who completed 27 of 45 passes for 341 yards. "I don't want to take away from their win, but this hurts me. We can play with them, we think."
The teams began the game displaying their best weapons. BYU looked to be all Ohio State could handle as Young passed for 155 yards in the initial 15 minutes. Still Ohio State, true to its principles, neither panicked nor changed its game plan. Kicker Rich Spangler hit a 47-yard field goal on Ohio State's first possession right after BYU missed a 52-yard field goal attempt on its first possession. Though Ohio State had only 37 yards rushing at the end of the first period, it did have the lead.
But in the second quarter, the Buckeyes gave a quick lesson in the use of the forward run. BYU had gone ahead 7-3 with 13:56 left in the half when Young completed a seven-yard pass to Neil Balholm, But on the next possession, Ohio State running back Tim Spencer broke loose for a 61-yard touchdown run and a 10-7 lead.
BYU punter Mike Mees had his punt attempt blocked on the Cougars' next possession, and that set the Buckeyes up on the BYU 11. Ohio State quarterback Mike Tomczak turned it into a three-yard TD and a 17-7 lead. BYU placekicker Kurt Gunther hit a 39-yard field goal with 1:43 left in the half to bring the Cougars within 17-10.
Then came the disastrous third quarter for BYU. Ohio State ground out 88 yards and a one-yard Vaughn Broadnax touchdown to start it off. Trailing 24-10, Young faded and threw an interception into the letters of OSU cornerback Garcia Lane, who returned to BYU's 25. Spencer then sprinted around the right end for an 18-yard touchdown three plays later, giving the Buckeyes a 31-10 lead.
On the kickoff, Tiumalu fumbled at BYU's 15, and when OSU's Dennis Houston recovered, the Buckeyes immediately turned it into a field goal for a 34-10 lead.
"We were right there starting the third quarter," said BYU cornerback Tom Holmoe. "We were down seven at half and thought that was no problem. Then we were behind by 14, and that was still OK. Then it got to 21, and we started saying, well, we've gotta score. Then some turnovers came, and it was just a matter of doing what we could, and we had to scramble."
In the last period, OSU's Jimmy Gayle went one yard for a touchdown and later tallied again from the five. BYU slipped in a touchdown between the two by Gayle on a 13-yard pass from Young to Gordon Hudson, the Y.'s leading receiver for the game.
BYU ended the game at Ohio State's one when a pass to Mike Eddo didn't produce a score the Cougars wanted badly to help save some face.
Ohio State rushed for 329 yards, thus proving that traveling by land does have its charms. The Buckeyes had more total offense (461 to 371) and nine minutes more possession time.
Ohio State made it a point to show how the big teams in the Big Ten get things done. And in the process gave BYU an education.