Enough has been written about Smith and his efforts of daring-do during Ohio State's run at the top, but the senior just keeps adding more to say.
The “best player in college football,” according to Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel, did it again to Michigan, tossing for 316 yards and four scores as OSU clinched a spot in the BCS National Championship game with a hard-fought 42-39 win.
It was the second consecutive time Smith has thrown for more than 300 yards against his arch rivals, who have actually been his play things the past three years. Smith threw for 300 yards last year against the Wolverines and preceded that with 142 yards on the ground in 2004.
The best statistic about Smith however - he'll leave 3-0 lifetime against UM.
“I've said it time and time again. It's not beating Michigan. It's the team that lined up and took the field every year that I got to start as quarterback against Michigan,” Smith said. “We all have three sets of golden pants that mean the world to me because you have to go through situations like today to earn those gold pants and the teams that I've been able to play with deserve that, to be 3-0.”
Smith earned it early, doing what he does best, dodging and throwing.
Backed up at the OSU 8-yard line, Smith completed two 39-yard passes, to Brian Robiskie and Ted Ginn Jr, the latter for a score, to lead the Buckeyes on a 91-yard drive that took less than two minutes. Smith has shown that feet, and an arm, can be a dangerous combination throughout the season. A runner when he arrived at Ohio State, Smith set the single-season touchdown pass record with 30 on Saturday. He ranks third all-time in total yards with 6,882. Only Art Schlichter (8,850) and Bobby Hoying (7,151) have more.
It may be hard to bring Smith down, but it's not hard to build him up.
“If you want to be a champion at quarterback, toughness is No. 1,” Tressel said. “You can't be what I think is the All-American quarterback without being tough.”
The Wolverines concur.
“He made a couple of scrambling plays where we had decent field position and then let him out. That's what he does,” said Michigan coach Lloyd Carr.
Whether Michigan sees Smith again in January remains to be seen. But right now, the unquestioned leader of the Buckeyes showed why he is again - even if it wasn't necessary.
“I'll probably be wearing this smile for the rest of the week,” Smith said. “Words cannot express how I feel (right now).”
Maybe they'll come to him in New York.
JEFF TAEPKE can be reached at (740) 353-3101 ext. 242.