Ohio State returns to form with return of Wells

COLUMBUS, Ohio âÄî When a player has an explosive quality you canâÄôt quite put your finger on, itâÄôs called an âÄúâÄôXâÄô factor.âÄù ThereâÄôs not a name for an entire offense that has it, but after Ohio StateâÄôs performance on Saturday, perhaps there should be. HereâÄôs an idea: the âÄúBeanie factor.âÄù The Buckeyes lost running back Chris âÄúBeanieâÄù Wells to a toe injury in the third quarter of their season-opening victory over Youngstown State on Aug. 30. It was originally thought Wells would possibly be back the next week to play Ohio, but he wasnâÄôt. The toe then kept him out of Ohio StateâÄôs marquee matchup against top-ranked USC. He missed the BuckeyesâÄô final tune-up before Big Ten play against Troy as well. And in those three weeks, Ohio State began to look like any other Big Ten team âÄî not one that had won three straight conference championships and had appeared in the last two national championships. The Buckeyes trailed after three quarters against Ohio, just scraping out a 26-14 win. They were embarrassed by USC 35-3. They looked less than impressive against Troy a week ago despite a 28-10 win. In the mean time, Minnesota racked up three convincing wins. All of a sudden, toppling the perennial powerhouse didnâÄôt seem so impossible. But Thursday, Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel announced that Wells would play. And with Wells returned Ohio StateâÄôs explosiveness. Wells only carried the ball 14 times; he broke the 100-yard mark but never found the end zone; he lost a fumble on the BuckeyesâÄô second drive of the game. Not exactly a staggering performance for a man once considered the Heisman Trophy frontrunner. âÄúI wasnâÄôt real pleased after the first couple carries because he had a so-so carry and then a turnover,âÄù Tressel said of Wells. Still, WellsâÄô playmaking ability seemed to spark the team and the crowd, and none more so than his 21-yard scamper late in the second quarter. After Wells broke into MinnesotaâÄôs secondary, Gophers sophomore strong safety Kyle Theret went low and tried to trip him up. Wells hurdled him. Ohio State senior wide receiver Brian Robiskie , who was blocking downfield and didnâÄôt see Wells, said the roar of the crowd on the play was so loud he thought Wells was headed to the end zone. âÄúUsually when they cheer heâÄôs breaking down the sideline going for a score,âÄù Robiskie said. âÄúBut I turned around and he was tackled. So IâÄôm thinking, âÄòWhat did he do for everybody to cheer?âÄôâĦ Beanie tried to tell me he was eight feet in the air.âÄù And though Wells never actually did find the end zone, he set the tone for all Ohio StateâÄôs rushers. The Buckeyes averaged a handy 7.5 yards per carry as a team, picking up 279 yards on the ground. Granted, the extent to which Wells affected Ohio StateâÄôs return to form is certainly debatable, but one fact canâÄôt be argued. With him on the field, the Buckeyes were explosive again. Ask Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster how key explosive plays are. âÄúThe name of the game is explosive plays and turnovers,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúOhio State won the explosive plays 11-3 and won the turnover battle 3-1, and thatâÄôs why they won the football game.âÄù