November 13, 2010

Penn State implodes, falls at Ohio State 38-14

(AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Penn State had never scored more than 13 points in Ohio Stadium during the Joe Paterno era. The Nittany Lions tore off 14 in the first half against the Buckeyes, both scores coming through the air, another first. But with a 14-3 advantage, Penn State couldn't hold on, allowing momentum to swing drastically back to the home team.

The Nittany Lions faced a fourth-and-one situation near the Ohio State 20 yard line. Penn State had converted two fourth downs already in the game, so Joe Paterno gave his offense yet another chance. If the call worked, Penn State was almost certain of another score, if not another touchdown. If it didn't, fans were likely to harp on the decision to bypass a guaranteed field goal and 14-point advantage.

Silas Redd was stopped just short on the outside, and Ohio State got the spark it needed. While the Buckeyes did end up going three-and-out on the very next series, the energy was back into the team. That spark lit a fire, which turned into a bonfire, which grew into a raging inferno.

Ohio State forced a punt on the first drive of the second half, and despite starting from its own 2 yard line, methodically drove right back down the field for a touchdown. Behind the running of Dan "Boom" Herron, and more than a few lucky bounces, the Buckeyes never looked back.

As Ohio State roared back to score 35 unanswered points in the second half, the scene could be described as nothing less than a complete collapse in every phase of the game by Penn State.

Matt McGloin looked flustered in the second half, frequently throwing off his back foot. That loss of composure forced two terrible interception returns for touchdowns by Ohio State.

But he wasn't helped much after the intermission. The Penn State defense reverted to its early-season habit of missing tackles, though a lack of depth due to injuries reared its ugly head once again. On offense, receivers couldn't hold on to important passes, and the offensive line couldn't open the same holes it did in the first half.

Penn State held an eight-minute advantage in first half time of possession, but Ohio State closed the gap in the second, finishing the day holding the ball slightly longer than the Nittany Lions. Much of that had to do with Penn State's inability to stop the run after halftime. Ohio State ended the night with 315 rushing yards, and a ridiculous 7.3 yards per rush. Herron finished with 190 yards and a touchdown.

Things started out as many fans had predicted. Ohio State marched right down the field, highlighted by a 50-yard pass from Terrelle Pryor to DeVier Posey. Though the Buckeyes settled for a field goal, any momentum for Penn State seemed too insignificant to make much of a difference. That would be hardly the case.

McGloin, the hottest of hot topics heading into the game, carved up the Ohio State defense. The sophomore walk-on--playing in place of incumbent starter true freshman Rob Bolden--completed nine straight passes at one point, and tossed two touchdowns to shock the 105,000 onlookers in The Horseshoe.

It was all Penn State for 30 minutes Saturday night in Ohio. The offensive line was opening holes and keeping McGloin upright. The wide receivers were catching everything thrown their way. The Penn State running game was giving a comfortable balance to everything the offense wanted to do. All of that momentum even saturated the Nittany Lions defense, holding Ohio State to several three-and-out series while playing inspired football.

But in true fashion for a young football team, Penn State couldn't hold on, couldn't manage the success. The Nittany Lions' trip to Columbus had plenty of lows, but also many more highs than was expected of them going into the game.

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  1. What happened to Mauti? Also, I know McGloin had an awesome first have but I believe his first pick 6 was huge momentum for OSU. Interested to hear your thoughts.

  2. I hate to play Monday morning QB, but the PSU staff made a bad decision to not take the 3 points going into half-time. They were going for the jugular, but I think psychologically, you hurt your team when we fail to convert there, and you give OSU some hope.