We had two touchdown passes--the first two in Ohio Stadium since joining the Big Ten--in fact, the first passing scores since 1963 in Columbus.
But moral victories are not acceptable at Penn State.
No one expected Penn State to win this game. In fact, most people were simply hoping the Lions would be competitve. The oddsmakers had the Buckeyes pegged as 18 point favorites. Penn State has not played well on the road, and except for a barely ranked THEM team, had not beaten a ranked team yet this year. Penn State was starting a walk-on gun slinger, perhaps with something to prove.
Meanwhile, their opponent, the hated Buckeyes of Columbus, were tied atop the Big Ten as everyone had expected them to be. Ranked ninth in the nation with Tyrelle Pryor at the helm who can run faster to the sideline than any other athlete I have ever seen, it did not appear on paper to be a fair match-up.
Despite all this, the lowly Nits came out and punched the Buckeyes in the mouth in the first half. The Buckeyes moved their opening possession down inside the Penn State 10, and it looked like the rout was already on. But the Lions tightened up and held OSU to a field goal. They mounted two scoring drives against one of the Big Ten's better defenses to go up 14-3. Penn State has not scored more than 13 points in Ohio Stadium since joining the Big Ten.
And then, with time ticking down in the first half and faced with a fourth and two at the OSU 20 yard line, the offense stuttered. Penn State had previously converted a fourth and one around the thiry on the same drive. But Silas Redd tried to bounce the play wide and was tackled short. The score would remain 14-3 going to the locker room.
That might have been the turning point of the game--but I don't think it was.
True--from there, it was a repeat of the Northwestern game, with Penn State playing the role of the Wildcats and the favored home team coming off the ropes to score 35 unanswered points and win the game. Interestingly, it was a record come from behind win for Tressel, just as last week's comeback tied a record for Paterno's best.
But while many fans are moaning not kicking the field goal, I submit to you that I think Paterno made the right call. The rest of the game showed that 17 points wouldn't be enough to win. The Lions were driving and the Buckeye defense was sucking air and back on their heels. I have watched Penn State play that conservative play-not-to-lose crap for decades and I applaud the staff for having the balls to go for the jugular.
Unfortunately, the Penn State offense lacked the teeth to put the bite on the Bucks.
The Buckeyes took their opening opossession of the second half 92 yards to pull within 4 points. Then, on our next possession, McGloin threw the obligatory pick six that put the Bucks up for good.
Can we please, please, please, please, for the love of God and all that is holy, please not throw that long out throw to the flat in Ohio Stadium. Ever again. Ever. Never. It doesn't matter who the quarterback is or who they are throwing to or who the defender is, but the result is always the same.
It's like watching a horror move where the scantily clad teen investigates the spooky noise when she's all alone in the house and the lights are out. Don't go there! I bet if you were on the field when McGloin went back to pass the Ohio State band was probably playing the Halloween theme in the background.
Just. Don't. Do. It. Don't call that play ever again in the state of Ohio.
That INT turned the game, and maybe it was set-up by the shift in momentum when we eschewed the field goal and came away with nothing. But we were a different team in the second half on both sides of the ball. I don't fault McGloin. I think we became more conservative in the play calling--the second half looked like vintage Paterno playing not to lose.
But more disconcerting than the pick sixes by the offense was the lack of defense. The announcers talked about the lack of depth on the defensive side created by multiple injuries and that we couldn't rotate people in like we normally do, but it wasn't the fourth quarter that we started to fade. It was right after halftime.
Is it strength and conditioning? Did Ohio State make adjustments and we didn't readjust? Needless to say, it was a frustrating half of football made all that more bitter by the early success we had.
But at least I don't have to complain about the weather or the refs or open an email from that douchebag "Dick" Foust.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Time of possession was close to equal.
PSU was outgained 453 yards to 272. Most of the Bucks output came in the second half.
Pryor threw one INT--we took possession inside out ten. PSU threw two picks and both went to the house for scores.
The Buckeyes did not punt the ball in the second half. We did not kick-off in the second half.
The Buckeyes lead the overall series 14-12.
The crowd of red numbered 105,466.
THE BIG (TEN) PICTURE:
Northwestern finally pulled their upset, catching the Hawkeyes looking ahead to Ohio State. The Wildcats won 21-17.
The Badgers absolutely destroyed Indiana 83-20. Wow. Just, wow.
THEM beat Purdue 27-16.
Minnesota defeated Illinois for their first conference win, 38-34.
Three teams have but one loss: Wisconsin, MSU and O$U.
1. Georgia--gave Auburn an upset alert but couldn't close the deal. Kind of like . . . nevermind.
2. Utah--how far does your program have to fall to lose to the Irish?
3. Florida--lost to South Carolina
4. Texas--lost to THE OTHER OSU. At 4-6 they aren't even bowl eligible!
5. McGloin--what a story if he had been able to orchestrate a win
Indiana at Fed Ex Field in D.C. Sorry, but I don't even feel like bothering with this right now.