TEMPE, Ariz. - Craig Krenzel carried the MVP trophy off the Fiesta
Bowl field for the second year in a row. His counterpart, Kansas State
quarterback Ell Roberson, left knowing he might have cost his team
Krenzel, who finished his Ohio State career 24-3 as a starter, matched
his career high with four touchdown passes - two apiece to Michael
Jenkins and Santonio Holmes - and the No. 7 Buckeyes held off the
eighth-ranked Wildcats 35-28 on Friday night. Krenzel should love the
Fiesta Bowl. He directed the Buckeyes' dramatic 31-24 double-overtime
victory over Miami for the national championship a year ago.
"This group of seniors, we've been fielding questions all week about how
are we emotionally going to get up for the game when it doesn't really
mean anything," Krenzel said. "We found that to be a slap in the face.
We didn't want to be a senior class that contributed to a national
championship and lost our last two games."
Roberson got the start despite a sexual-assault accusation by a woman
early Thursday. He was awful early in Kansas State's first Bowl
Championship Series game, but nearly brought the Wildcats back from
deficits of 21-0 and 35-14.
"I think his head wasn't in the game the first half," Ohio State
defensive end Will Smith said. "I think they underestimated our speed on
defense, but they made some good adjustments in the second half."
After a 3-for-13 start, Roberson completed 20 of 52 passes for 294 yards
and one interception. He ran for 32 yards. "How did he play? Not very
well," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "You saw in the second half
he was a very competitive young man. Collectively, over the course of
the ballgame, he probably didn't play too well."
Was Roberson affected
by his off-the-field problems?
"I think that's probably the case," Snyder said. "But that's an excuse,
and I don't mean it to be."
Roberson was not available for comment after the game.
Ohio State (11-2) led 35-14 entering the fourth quarter, but Kansas
State scored twice. Maurice Mack's 37-yard kickoff return to the Ohio
State 46 and Roberson's 19-yard pass to James Terry helped set up Ayo
Saba's 3-yard run.
Roberson threw 24 yards to Davin Dennis to the Ohio State 15, and after
a facemask penalty, Roberson sneaked over from the 1 to cut it to 35-28
with 2:47 left. Kansas State (11-4) got the onside kick, but was called
for a false start. Ohio State's Bobby Carpenter recovered the second
onside kick and the Buckeyes held on.
The Wildcats had one more chance but Roberson's desperation pass from
midfield was batted down at the 2. Kansas State started from its 8 with
1:12 to go, and Roberson's passing moved the Wildcats to the Ohio State
Krenzel's four TD passes were his most in a non-overtime game. He had
four in a triple-overtime victory over North Carolina State on Sept. 12,
but three came in overtime. Krenzel - offensive MVP of last year's
Fiesta Bowl national championship game - was 11-for-24 for 189 yards
with two interceptions.
Jenkins had five catches for 96 yards to pass David Boston as Ohio
State's career reception leader.
Ohio State, with the top-ranked rushing defense in the country, held
All-American Darren Sproles to a season-low 38 yards on 13 carries.
Kansas State rolled into Arizona on a seven-game winning streak, the
latest a 35-7 pounding of then-No. 1 and unbeaten Oklahoma in the Big 12
title game. But the Roberson case was an ugly turn of events for Snyder,
whose team appeared in its 11th consecutive bowl game. A woman accused
Roberson of sexual assault at the team hotel about 3:30 a.m. Thursday.
Roberson acknowledged having sex, but said it was consensual. A police
report was filed, and earlier Friday the university said its own
investigation found no criminal wrongdoing. Snyder allowed Roberson to
start, but said the quarterback could face punishment for violating team
rules. Whatever that punishment is will remain a mystery.
Krenzel became the second player to win consecutive MVP awards in the
33-year history of the Fiesta Bowl. Curt Warner of Penn State did it in
the 1980-81 seasons.
The Buckeyes gave up an average of 1.9 yards per carry this season, but
were burned for 179 yards on the ground in their regular-season finale
at Michigan. They talked all week about regaining their reputation, then
held Kansas State to 84 yards on the ground.
The Buckeyes' first score came when Harlen Jacobs blocked Jared Brite's
punt and John Hollins returned it 7 yards for a touchdown. Krenzel's
36-yard pass to Bam Childress set up his scrambling, 6-yard touchdown
pass to Holmes that made it 14-0. After Chris Gamble's interception at
the Kansas State 17, Krenzel threw over the middle to Jenkins for a TD
and it was 21-0 with 37 seconds left in the first quarter.
Kansas State's offense, which rolled up 519 yards against Oklahoma,
finally showed some life with a 70-yard, 11-play touchdown drive, capped
by Sproles' 6-yard run with 3:01 to play in the half. Roberson threw 17
yards to Thomas Hill, then ran 14 yards for a score to slice the lead to
21-14 with 8:59 left in the third quarter.
But the Buckeyes took the kickoff and went 74 yards in nine plays to go
OSU- Hollins 7 yd blocked punt return (Nugent kick)
OSU- Holmes 6 yd pass from Krenzel (Nugent kick)
OSU- Jenkins 17 yd pass from Krenzel (Nugent kick)
KSU- Sproles 6 yd run (Rheem kick)
KSU- Roberson 14 yd run (Rheem kick)
OSU-Jenkins 8 yd pass from Krenzel (Nugent kick)
OSU- Holmes 31 yd pass from krenzel (Nugent kick)
KSU- Saba 3 yd run (Rheem kick)
KSU- Roberson 1 yd run (Rheem kick)
KSU- Roberson 20-51-294
OSU- Krenzel 11-24-189
KSU- Sproles 13-38, Roberson 16-32
OSU- Ross 20-82, Joe 11-46, Krenzel 8-21
KSU- Dennis 7-113, Terry 4-58, Moreira 3-59, Polite 1-31
OSU- Jenkins 5-96, Childress 2-44, Holmes 2-37