Buckeyes#039; fate in own hands
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Ohio State is no longer concerned with polls and computer rankings.
The Buckeyes control their own fate and this much is clear -- they will play Miami for the national championship if both teams win the rest of their games.
The No. 2 Buckeyes moved another step closer to the Fiesta Bowl with a 10-6 win Saturday at Purdue. With Oklahoma losing to Texas A&M 30-26, and No. 1 Miami routing Tennessee 26-3, it appears the Hurricanes and Buckeyes are on course for a trip to Tempe, Ariz.
Miami and Ohio State are the only unbeaten major-college teams, and the Buckeyes were slightly ahead of the Hurricanes in last week's Bowl Championship Series rankings. The final BCS rankings will determine who plays in the Fiesta Bowl.
Ohio State is first concentrating on the Big Ten title.
If Ohio State loses and No. 6 Iowa wins out, the Hawkeyes would win the league title. If the Buckeyes beat Illinois next week and win their season finale at home against Michigan, the worst they can do is go to the Rose Bowl.
The Buckeyes (6-0 Big Ten) are off to their fourth 11-0 start in team history, joining the 1975, 1979 and 1995 teams.
''We have a chance to go out next week and play a good Illinois team and leave there 12-0,'' quarterback Craig Krenzel said.
It was Krenzel who kept the team's title hopes alive after the Buckeyes looked vulnerable for 58 minutes against an underachieving Purdue team.
Trailing by three points late in the fourth, facing fourth-and-1 at the Purdue 37-yard line and driving into a 20 mph wind, Ohio State ran up to the line without a huddle looking to pass.
Krenzel called a pass play at the line, dropped back, checked off his first option, tight end Ben Hartsock, eluded the rush and threw a high, wobbly pass that Michael Jenkins caught over his shoulder for the touchdown with 1:36 remaining.
The Buckeyes hoped to surprise Purdue by not calling a timeout or using a huddle. Krenzel looked first for open receivers who would gain enough yards for a first down. When he couldn't find any, he saw Jenkins and made the pass that probably saved their season.
''I knew all the guys wanted it. We needed it,'' Jenkins said. ''This was kind of like our season right here and they wanted to spoil it. It's a great feeling.''
Coach Jim Tressel liked Krenzel's gutsy call at the line of scrimmage.
''You've got to like a guy who believes in himself, especially if you end up in the Fiesta Bowl,'' he said.
It was about the only mention of a possible Fiesta Bowl berth made by the Buckeyes after the game. Tressel stressed to his team that their first mission should be winning the Big Ten and not the BCS rankings.
''I can't worry about that,'' he said.