No. 2 Ohio State opened the season with a 43-0 rout of overmatched Youngstown State on Saturday, but the victory was tempered by a leg injury to Heisman Trophy prospect Chris "Beanie" Wells.
The star tailback was hurt in the third quarter after taking a handoff from Todd Boeckman on first and goal at the Youngstown State 2. His feet slipped underneath him as he planted to make a cut, with the ball rolling free as he hit the turf.
Wells was helped off the field, and later returned to the bench in the fourth quarter wearing a boot on his right foot.
Before the injury, Wells ran for 111 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown run. Boeckman tossed two touchdown passes and freshman quarterback phenom Terrelle Pryor looked solid in his college debut.
Wells is on most Heisman short lists, behind 2007 winner Tim Tebow of Florida. Wells rushed for 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago as a sophomore despite several nagging injuries and said earlier this week that this is the healthiest he has been going into a season in years.
If Wells is out, it would be a a huge blow for the Buckeyes, who host Ohio next week and play at No. 3 Southern California the following week.
Boeckman completed 14-of-19 passes for 187 yards and touchdown passes of 31 yards to Brian Robiskie and 25 yards to DeVier Posey.
Pryor, listed third on the depth chart but entering the game before backup Joe Bauserman, received a loud cheer from the crowd before he took his first snap. He later ran 18 yards for a touchdown.
Ryan Pretorius, the 29-year-old senior from South Africa, kicked four field goals _ matching the fourth best total ever for a Buckeye kicker in a game. Aaron Pettrey later kiced a 54-yard field goal, the fourth longest at 86-year-old Ohio Stadium.
The outcome was never in doubt between one of the nation's perennial powers and a Championship Subdivision team collecting $650,000 to be a punching bag at Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes, with 18 starters back from last year's team that went 11-2 and lost in the national title game, scored on all six first-half possessions. In between Wells' 43-yard scoring sprint through a gaping hole on fourth-and-1 to open the scoring, and Boeckman's TD pass to Robiskie to make it 26-0 at the half, Pretorius kicked field goals of 28, 31, 27 and 51 yards.
Pryor, a 6-foot-6, 235-pounder from Jeannette, Pa., made his first appearance to start Ohio State's third possession.
He rifled a quick look-in pass to Lamar Thomas in the right flat on his first play, eventually guiding the Buckeyes to a first down at the YSU 5 only to have the drive end when he was sacked by Jaimie Frasure for an 8-yard loss. Pretorius followed with a field goal.
Pryor later showed his running ability by cutting back against the grain to score on an 18-yard keeper around left end.
The Penguins, who averaged 27.4 points a game during a 7-4 season in 2007, never came close to getting anything going on offense. They rushed 21 times for minus-11 yards.
Youngstown State has never scored a touchdown in four games against teams from Bowl Championship Series conferences.
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