"I think the whole stadium was pathetic," Cooper said after the ninth-ranked Buckeyes almost frittered away a 28-0 lead. "The coaches, the players _ and the fans. They sat there on their butts. One time our players had to get them excited when we're on defense and it's short yardage.
"Talk to Arizona now about how tough it is to come in here and play."
Things looked good for the Buckeyes after linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer picked off a shovel pass and returned it 20 yards to give Ohio State 14 points in 14 seconds of the second quarter.
Arizona (1-2), which beat Alabama-Birmingham 24-10 last week, hasn't won consecutive games in 22 months. But the Wildcats, 17 1/2-point underdogs, scored 20 points in the final period to make it interesting.
"It's not really as loud as it should be," Cooper said of the crowd. "It was 21-0 and 28-0 and you'd think it was still a 0-0 tie."
Ohio State, 3-0 for the seventh year in a row, had to recover an onside kick and pick up a first down on a third-down running play with 1:30 left to lock up the victory.
Arizona outgained the Buckeyes 380-292 and held them to 70 yards rushing, 152 under their average and their lowest total in four years. Ohio State lost three fumbles and an interception one week after losing four first-half fumbles in a 44-13 victory over Bowling Green.
Cooper didn't spare his team, either.
"The only thing I'm happy about right now is we won the game," he said. "I'm very disappointed in our play. We were thinking about putting some young offensive linemen in there and the next thing you know they score, then they score again and it's a ball game."
Starting quarterback Stanley Jackson left the game late in the third quarter. Ohio State team doctors said he had a sprained left knee but is not expected to miss any games.
Ohio State took control with a three-touchdown burst helped by Arizona mistakes.
"It came down to turnovers and big plays," Wildcats quarterback Keith Smith said. "They made the big plays and we didn't put a full game together."
Ryan Springston bobbled an Arizona punt snap and was tackled at his 34 for a 1-yard loss. Seven plays later, Jackson found Boston over the middle for a 6-yard touchdown.
"Our kicking game has been dreadful," Arizona coach Dick Tomey said. "Things that should be routine aren't."
After Dan Stultz kicked the extra point and his kickoff was downed in the end zone, Smith attempted a short shovel pass to Kelvin Eafon. Katzenmoyer stepped in front of the fullback and went untouched the 20 yards to give the Buckeyes 14 points in 14 seconds.
Katzenmoyer also sat out a portion of the second half with a sprained ankle but did return for the last Ohio State defensive series.
Late in the half, Pepe Pearson _ who led the Buckeyes with 39 yards rushing _ capped a nine-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Joe Germaine, who splits time with Jackson, hit all three of his passes for 52 yards to set up the score.
The Buckeyes went ahead 28-0 when Jackson went 24 yards on a quarterback draw on Ohio State's second possession of the third quarter.
Michael Wiley, Ohio State's leading rusher and scorer in the first two games, lost two fumbles in the third quarter including one recovered by Stadford Glover at the Buckeyes 41. Arizona came right back to score on Smith's 9-yard keeper to cut the lead to 28-6.
Stultz's 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Joe Salave'a and the Wildcats followed that miscue with another touchdown drive.
This time, Smith started the drive by hitting Brad Brennan for a 47-yard gain and capped it by hitting Brennan on a 2-yard scoring pass on fourth-and-goal.
After an Ohio State punt, Arizona again came right back. Smith completed 5-of-7 passes for 53 yards and ran for 17 yards. He hit Jeff Nadeau on the 17-yard scoring strike with 2:31 left.
Cooper said his team got "a little shellshocked."
After Kevin Griffin recovered the onside kick for Ohio State, the Buckeyes still needed to convert on third-and-1 at the Arizona 43. Pearson gained three yards up the middle for the first down and the Buckeyes ran out the clock.
Arizona had the upper hand in first downs (19-14), time of possession (33:07 to 26:53) and rushing yardage (170-70).
Ohio State didn't have the upper hand in disappointment, either.
"I like our fight, but that's about it," Tomey said. "We came here expecting to win."