But Germaine's success was far from assured. The sophomore began fall workouts as the third-rated quarterback. He moved up to No. 2 after Mark Garcia was hurt in August.

Germaine was a reserve in the Buckeyes' first 10 games, and didn't earn his first career start until Nov. 23 against Michigan. It was memorable for one thing _ a loss.

Ohio State, then ranked second, got beat 13-9, and Germaine was intercepted on the Buckeyes' final play. He and Stanley Jackson split time directing an offense that didn't score a touchdown in the game.

Germaine's luck hardly improved upon arriving in Pasadena. Coach John Cooper decided Jackson would start the Rose Bowl, with Germaine coming off the bench.

``Bottom line in any team sports is to win,'' he said. ``I didn't really care if I was starting or coming off the bench, it didn't matter.''

Jackson played well in the first half, when the teams were tied 7-7. But he gave way to Germaine for the final 30 minutes, when Ohio State came from behind to win.

Gathered in the huddle before the winning drive began, the Buckeyes had confidence in the quarterback known for his soft throwing touch.

``Joe was really calm,'' offensive lineman Orlando Pace said. ``You can just look by his eyes. You can see the determination. He knew we were going to win this game.''

The plain-spoken Germaine didn't attempt to fire up his teammates.

``We knew what we had to do,'' he said. ``Fortunately enough, we went down the field and were able to score.''