COLLEGE FOOTBALL : Ohio State Displays Mercy Toward Iowa : Big Ten: Ahead by 49 points at halftime, Buckeye Coach John Cooper removes his starters for second half.

From Associated Press

Presented a prime opportunity Saturday to run up the score and impress poll voters, Ohio State Coach John Cooper decided his fourth-ranked Buckeyes had already made their point.

Ahead, 56-7, at halftime, Ohio State relied on backups in the second half and allowed No. 25 Iowa to make the game appear closer than it actually was in beating the Hawkeyes, 56-35.

Cooper said he didn't do it because he felt sorry for Iowa Coach Hayden Fry, a close friend.

"I wouldn't do that to anybody," Cooper said.

Cooper acknowledged that allowing subs to take over would cut down on the yardage for tailback Eddie George, considered a contender for the Heisman Trophy.

"I felt bad for Eddie, because he only had a little more than 100 yards rushing," Cooper said.

But George made his time count. He scored four touchdowns in the first half as the Buckeyes built a 56-0 lead. Bob Hoying ran for one touchdown and passed to Terry Glenn for two more and Shawn Springs returned an interception 60 yards for another in the onslaught.

The Buckeyes' longest "drive" of the opening half took only 2:05 and four possessions required less than 45 seconds each. Touchdowns on three consecutive possessions midway through the half required a combined 48 seconds.

The 56 points were the most ever scored by Ohio State in a first half, eclipsing the 41 scored a year ago against Purdue and in 1983 against Northwestern.

"I was afraid this was going to happen," Fry said. "Ohio State verified my fears. They are one of the great teams ever in the Big Ten. There was no mystery what happened out there. They just blew us off the ball."

The victory kept the Buckeyes, 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten, a half-game back of No. 8 Northwestern in the conference. The Wildcats beat Illinois, 17-14.

If the teams tie for the Big Ten title, Ohio State would go to the Rose Bowl according to conference tiebreaker rules because it was unbeaten outside of the conference.

Iowa (5-2, 2-2) hadn't trailed by 56 points in a game--let alone the first half--since losing to Nebraska, 57-0, in 1980.

The Hawkeyes outscored Ohio State, 28-0, in the second half.

"This shouldn't hurt Ohio State in the polls," Iowa linebacker Bill Ennis-Inge said. "All they have to do is look at the first half."

A 55-yard pass from Hoying to Glenn on the Buckeyes' first play from scrimmage set up George's three-yard run on the next snap. Hoying later threw to Glenn, who had three catches for 149 yards, for touchdowns of 38 and 56 yards.

George, with 110 yards in 15 carries, also scored on runs of nine, 10 and three yards.

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