Smith Clinches Heisman As Ohio State Outlasts Michigan

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: November 20, 2006

PHILADELPHIA — In a game that matched the hype, No. 1 Ohio State downed No. 2 Michigan 42-39 Saturday in Columbus. The 103rd playing of the heated rivalry turned into an offensive showcase for Ohio State QB Troy Smith and the Buckeyes (503 yards of total offense).

The game included several momentum swings, but one constant was the toughness and steady outstanding play of the fifth year senior quarterback.

With the win, Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten) clinched a spot in the BCS National Championship game and their first outright Big Ten championship since 1984.

Some people will talk about Smith’s numbers (29-of-41 for 316 yards and four touchdowns including one deflection interception), but it was his “toughness” and leadership that I believe willed his team to victory.

Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel agreed saying “I’ve said for however many years we’ve been talking about Troy that his number one quality is his toughness. If you want to be a champion as a quarterback, toughness is number one”.

This was displayed by Smith during one of Saturday’s biggest plays when he survived a helmet to helmet hit late in the fourth quarter by Michigan LB Shawn Crable.

On the play, Crable took a flying leap with the crown of his helmet at Smith’s head as he was releasing a pass. He was called for roughing the passer on the crucial third-and-15 play.

Smith picked himself up and a few plays later hit wideout Terry Robiskie with a 13-yard TD strike lifting the Buckeyes to a 42-31 commanding lead.

The touchdown pass was Smith’s 30th touchdown pass of the season, which broke Bobby Hoying’s school record of 29 from 1995.

With the win on College Football’s biggest stage, Smith in my opinion locked up the 2006 Heisman Trophy. He has now beaten Michigan 3 times as a starting quarterback, proving that he is an All-time Big Ten great at the quarterback position.

For someone that has dominated a rival and overcome off the field obstacles (a 2005 Alamo Bowl suspension for booster dealings), you would think Smith would be pounding his chest.

But he showed maturity and leadership at the press conference saying “I’ve said it time and time again. It’s not me beating Michigan. It’s the team that is lined up and took the field every year that I got to start as quarterback that beat Michigan. They’re also 3-0”.

He also did not want to draw away from the team when asked about the Heisman Trophy. Smith said about the accolade “I think the Heisman Trophy is a team award”, Smith added.

“If we go into a situation, I don’t care who you are, you can be hands-down the most electrifying player in college football and lose two or three games and you’re out. It’s a team award first and foremost because our team is 12-0. I owe them everything in the world.”

With his numbers (66.4%, 2507 yards, 30 TD’s and 5 INT’s), BCS Championship bound team, and leadership everyone else shouldn’t even bother to make the trip to New York City for the Heisman presentation on December 9th.