SEATTLE — Usually stoic in his scarlet sweater vest, Jim Tressel was jumping around the sideline.
In the huddle, normally low-key Todd Boeckman barked at his Ohio State teammates, as the quarterback making his third career start joined his coach in trying to ignite the Buckeyes.
Chris Wells ran for 135 yards and a touchdown, Boeckman threw for two more scores and No. 10 Ohio State scored 24 consecutive points in the second half to beat Washington 33-14 on Saturday.
“Oh, man, I was really surprised. I’ve never seen Todd like that,” Wells said of the 23-year-old junior replacement for Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith.
Ohio State (3-0) tied a school record for consecutive wins in the regular season with 21, matching a mark set from 1967-69.
“It was gut-check time for us, to see who wanted it the most. As you can see, we wanted it the most today,” Wells said.
Boeckman was 14-for-25 for 218 yards. He just laughed when asked about his outbursts, after the Buckeyes won for the 22nd time in 23 games overall — the only loss coming when Florida ran over them in last January’s national championship game.
“I’m not a guy who speaks up much, but we had a lot of dumb penalties in the first half,” Boeckman said. “You could see it in their eyes (that they needed it).”
Linebacker James Laurinaitis intercepted Washington’s Jake Locker twice deep in Buckeyes territory. Last season’s Nagurski Award winner as the nation’s best defensive player also had a key sack of the Huskies’ redshirt freshman star during the decisive sequence of the third quarter, when Ohio State turned a 7-3 deficit into a 17-7 lead.
As Brandon Saine ran 37 yards for a touchdown on the game’s final play, Tressel was getting a bucket of ice water dumped on his head to celebrate his 200th career victory.
Yet afterward, only small patches of the sweater were damp, as if order had returned to Tressel.
“Dry fit,” Tressel joked of his signature sideline outfit.
“There wasn’t panic. There wasn’t fear.”
But there was doubt.
Washington (2-1) was inside Ohio State territory six times against the nation’s top-ranked defense. The Huskies got 102 yards rushing and 153 yards passing from Locker.
But key mistakes — including Locker’s three interceptions — doomed them in their sixth consecutive loss to a Top 10 opponent.
“It was on our offense,” Locker said. “We obviously made a lot of mistakes you can’t make against a team that good.”
Washington was poised to increase its 7-3 lead on the opening drive of the second half, moving to OSU’s 19 on a personal-foul penalty. The 74,927 in Husky Stadium — the third-largest crowd in the 87-year-old stadium’s history — rocked as it hadn’t in years.
But three consecutive plays lost yardage, the last a sack by Laurinaitis at the 29. Kurt Coleman then blocked a 46-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Perkins. Tressel almost jumped out of his sweater vest and nearly ventured to the yard-line numbers painted on the field.
“I was excited,” Tressel said. “This was a great environment. Our guys were excited. I guess I wanted to cheer for them.”
Two plays later, Boeckman saw a safety playing Wells to run, checked to an audible, and found Brian Robiskie running past freshman cornerback Vonzell McDowell. Robiskie caught the perfect throw in stride at the 40 and cruised in for a 68-yard touchdown and a 10-7 lead for the Buckeyes 5½ minutes into the third quarter. Tressel ran down the sidelines behind Robiskie with both arms raised.
On the ensuing kickoff, Devon Torrence caused Curtis Shaw, another Huskies freshman, to fumble. James Scott recovered at the Washington 25.
Wells ran for 11 yards, then romped through an arm tackle try by McDowell for a 14-yard touchdown run. In just 39 seconds, Ohio State had a 17-7 lead with nine minutes left in the third quarter.
“I think that third quarter is a statement that they want to get there,” to excellence, Tressel said. “I hope they don’t think it’s a statement that we are there yet.”
Locker kept running. His 16-yard run, on his 14th carry, put him over 100 yards and got Washington to the Buckeyes 28 late in the period. But on third-and-5, Laurinaitis faked a blitz and dropped away from the line to make an interception.
“That was a fast look, and he’s never seen anything like that,” offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said of Locker. “They didn’t do that at Ferndale (Wash., high school).”
Ohio State turned that into a 20-7 lead on a 23-yard field goal by Ryan Pretorius. Boeckman added a 36-yard touchdown pass to Brian Hartline with 3:30 left.
Washington took a 7-3 on the penultimate play of the first half when Anthony Russo made a twisting catch at the goal line of a 23-yard pass. It was the first touchdown the Buckeyes’ defense had allowed this season.
Ohio State was on Washington’s turf three times in the opening half, yet got only a 28-yard field goal by Pretorius early in the second quarter.
Washington then drove to Ohio State’s 5, but on third-and-goal Laurinaitis reached back with his left hand and deflected a shovel pass to himself. The interception at the 13 kept Ohio State ahead 3-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
“I was two feet away from him,” Locker said. “I don’t know how he got it.”