The time might be past when Ohio State's offense can be categorized by the handoff and the downfield pass.
The new wrinkle - a short-passing game highlighted by the swing pass - and a couple of big plays by the defense and special teams went a long way in the No. 10 Buckeyes' 38-6 victory over Boston College in the Kickoff Classic on Sunday."There are a few things we changed and helped us accomplish what we accomplished today," quarterback Bobby Hoying said. "It's overall consistency. If you saw us, we didn't force the ball at any time. We mixed up the pass and the run, and if we can continue being consistent, that's what will be different about our team."
Boston College was ranked No. 22 in the preseason poll, but dropped out after the loss.
If there was a key play, it was perhaps the first swing play, which came late in the first half with Ohio State already leading 14-3. Boston College had Ohio State pinned at its 1, facing third and 10.
Hoying took the snap and floated a swing pass to Eddie George in the left flat for a 14-yard gain. George followed with a 19-yard run and Hoying then hit Terry Glenn with a 46-yard pass to the Boston College 20.
Three plays later, Hoying capped the 99-yard drive with a 12-yard scoring pass to tight end Rickey Dudley for a 21-3 lead.
"The defense feels like you have your back against the wall," Buckeyes tackle Orlando Pace said. "But we punched our way out. We not only wore them down, we broke their confidence. They didn't feel the same after that."
That was obvious in the third quarter when Ohio State took the opening kickoff and drove 82 yards in 18 plays for a field goal. George, named the game MVP with 99 yards rushing, two TDs and three pass receptions for 44 yards, caught swing passes of 16 and 14 yards. Both catches came with the Buckeyes needing more than nine yards for a first down.
"We knew Boston College liked to pressure the passer, so that was something we recently installed," George said. "I was surprised that after the first couple of catches, I thought they would bring someone out to cover me 1-on-1, and they never did."
Boston College coach Dan Henning said the swing pass didn't catch his team by surprise.
"We played the swing pass poorly," said Henning, who was just as disappointed in the Eagles' failure to stop Shawn Springs' 97-yard kickoff return that made it 14-3. It was the first kickoff return for a TD in the 13-year history of the game.Seconds after Dan McGuire's 24-yard field goal cut Ohio State's lead to 7-3, McGuire sailed his kickoff to Springs at the 3. Springs angled across the field and found a gaping hole as he turned upfield around the 20. He got a great peel-back block from Jeff Wilson at the 27 and a final block from Glenn on McGuire near midfield.
"The idea I had in my head was, `Come on Shawn, you can take all the way,' " Springs said. "Things opened up and I had great blocks. Coach said before the game don't be surprised if we return one for a touchdown."
Ohio State outgained Boston College 488 yards to 300 and had only one turnover to four for the Eagles. The Buckeyes also came up with several big defensive stops, the best coming with seven minutes left in the second quarter.
Trailing 14-3, Boston College moved 52 yards to the Ohio State 19. But on fourth down with less than a foot to go, quarterback Mark Hartsell was stopped on a sneak.
"They made the big plays and we had a couple of big downs and they stopped us," said Hartsell, who was 17-of-31 for 187 yards. "They played better than us. Their defense played great when it counted, and our offense didn't."
Boston College managed to get within 24-6 on a 50-yard third-quarter field goal by McGuire. But George, who capped Ohio State's opening drive with a 12-yard TD run, ran 9 yards for another score and backup Tom Hoying threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Dimitrious Stanley to close out the scoring.
"As I said before the game, I don't think you can take the outcome of this and stretch it in any one direction," Henning said. "I know Ohio State has a good football team and I believe we'll have a good football team. We sure got to get it together and play better than this."
The previous two winners of the Kickoff Classic, Florida State and Nebraska, went on to win the national championship.
Ohio State coach John Cooper didn't seem to care.
"What you did today won't mean anything when we play Washington" in three weeks, he said.