2002 College Bowls


Tough enough

Ohio State QB Krenzel isn't glitzy, but he gets the job done

Posted: Saturday January 04, 2003 4:24 AM
Updated: Saturday January 04, 2003 4:59 AM
  Craig Krenzel Craig Krenzel, surprisingly, was Ohio State's leading rusher on the day. AP

By John Donovan,

TEMPE, Ariz. -- All week long, in the interminable run-up to college football's national championship game, it was Ken Dorsey this, Ken Dorsey that. The Miami quarterback, a Heisman Trophy finalist, was the quarterback to watch in the Fiesta Bowl.

Craig Krenzel was just along for the ride.

After the ride was over Friday night, after Krenzel's Ohio State Buckeyes had stunned everyone -- yes, even Ohio State fans -- with their double-overtime thriller of a win, Dorsey was no longer the talk of the town. Instead, it was Craig Krenzel this, Craig Krenzel that.

"I told y'all that Craig was a player," Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett said. "He maybe doesn’t have the best arm out there, and he's maybe not as fast. But, I'm telling you, when it comes down to it, he can play. I'd take him over anybody in the world."'s Stewart Mandel
The fact that Ohio State won may have been surprising, but the way they pulled off another close call certainly wasn't. As the disappointed Hurricanes found out, it was the exact same way the Buckeyes have been doing it all year.

Closer Look
The pass fell incomplete. The 'Canes stormed the field in celebration. But a few seconds later, a flag fell on the floor as well. It was a pass interference call that kept Ohio State alive and will be talked about for years to come.

Up in Smoke
There would be no wide lefts to save Miami this time. For the first time in 34 games, the Hurricanes were besieged with bad luck in a stunning loss.

Tough Enough
All of the pregame talk centered on Ken Dorsey, but it was Craig Krenzel who lifted his team to victory with an array of clutch scrambles and key passes.

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    The Buckeyes quarterback was nowhere near as pretty as Dorsey was, at least not on the stats line. Krenzel was only 7-of-21, for 122 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Dorsey completed 28-of-43 and threw for 296 yards, including a pair of touchdowns.

    But, as he's done all season, Krenzel did other things. He nailed the throws when they counted. Five of his seven completions went for first downs.

    He ran. Nineteen times he ran, many of them planned draws against Miami's four-man front, for 81 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for three first downs, too. He was the game's leading rusher.

    "Coach [Jim] Tressel is always saying that every yard is golden," said wide receiver Michael Jenkins. "Craig got 81 golden yards tonight."

    And, of course, he won. As he has all season, Krenzel won. The Buckeyes were a bit choppy at many points this season. They had at least a couple of close games that shouldn't have been close. But they ended the season perfect at 14-0, thanks in large part to Krenzel.

    "Krenzel did for us what we needed done," Tressel said. "He led the team, fought like crazy; he made plays, most especially when they had to be made."

    None of it is anything new to his teammates.

    "Our quarterback, he's got some big you-know-whats," said cornerback Dustin Fox. "He took some big hits from NFL-type players."

    Here's how important Krenzel was to the Buckeyes in their 31-24 win over the previously unbeaten Hurricanes -- who, let's not forget, were defending national champs, double-digit favorites and winners of 34 straight games.

    He answered the first Miami touchdown by bending over the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown on a fourth down late in the second quarter. He called a fourth-down play in the first overtime that resulted in a key pass interference call, getting the Bucks a first down on the 2. He snuck it in from the 1-yard line three plays later.

    In the next overtime drive, he ran for 5 yards then threw a 6-yard pass to Jenkins on third and one, setting up Clarett's 5-yard winning touchdown run.

    Mostly, he kept his team cool in the face of unbelievable pressure.

    "Everybody was all hibbery-jibbery in there," Clarett said. "Craig got in there and said, 'Hey, let's get this thing going.'"

    Krenzel may never get the accolades that Dorsey -- who ends his career at 38-2 as a starter for Miami -- received this year. But Krenzel has a national title now, the first at Ohio State since 1968.

    And everyone in scarlet and gray knows how much of it was him.

    "Probably the No. 1 characteristic that a quarterback better have, especially a quarterback at Ohio State, he better be tough," Tressel said. "He's tough."

    Tougher, for sure, than many people knew.

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