Ohio State 38, Penn State 10
It really should have been no surprise, as not many peeps gave the Nittany Lions (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) much of a chance against #1 Ohio State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten). The Buckeyes are loaded with talent, well coached, and they played their best game of the year in front of a “blacked out” home crowd 108,423 at Ohio Stadium, the second largest crowd ever, treating them to a 38-10 win over the sputtering Nittany Lions.
By game time, the spread, which had increased to 19, settled back to 18, a number tOSU easily covered. When the Buckeyes came out with “that dullard look”, allowing Penn State to score an early field goal, we fans were able to cling to a glimmer of hope. You see, running backs Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch were both back on the field again after recuperating from their injuries. Freshman Barkley was in tip-top shape, as would be evidenced throughout the night. He provided just about the entire offense for the Nittany Lions, rolling up 194 yards on 26 carries with a long of 56, receiving little assistance from the Five Traffic Cones against a competent Ohio State defense. Saquon was almost singlehandedly responsible for providing almost two-thirds of the offense, and had his 44-yard touchdown run not been called back because of a holding penalty on Brian Gaia, the game could have been much closer.
The other offensive contributor worthy of note was sophomore wide receiver Chris Godwin, who looks already like an NFL receiver, already. His long reception was also 56 yards, with a total of three catches for 103 yards.
On the launching side of those completions, Christian Hackenberg had a regressive night, as the Traffic Cones combined with Hack’s decision making enabled five sacks for the Buckeyes D. Hackenberg was a mere 7-13 passing with one touchdown, for a quarterback rating of 6.1. While one major, glaring non-completion was due to the same complete catching incompetence exhibited all year long by tight end Mike Gesicki, Hack also seemed to revert to his own old ways, sailing balls four feet over the heads of receivers who were only a few yards downfield, making us wonder whether his head is truly in the game.
One of Hackenberg’s worst “misses” occurred early in the fourth quarter with the Nittany Lions down 24-10. Saquon Barkley had just completed his longest run of the night, 56 yards to the OSU 21. After two short running plays, on third down Barkley got the ball but was stopped for no gain at the 13. On fourth down, Hackenberg made the crucial miss—mentally and visually missing the fact that Barkley was wide open in the right flat, taking a crucial sack at the Buckeyes’ 15 yard-line and turning the ball over on downs. According to head coach James Franklin, Barkley was the fourth option and Hack didn’t have enough time check down, but that’s something he’ll have to learn how to do.
Once again, third down conversion woes bit Penn State in the ass — hard. Converting on one of eleven third down tries ain’t going to win many ball games, and neither is going 0-2 on fourth down. However, if Penn State had been able to punt, they could have taken some of the edge of the atrociousness of the annoying third down failures. They weren’t able, employing two punters, Dan Pasquariello and Chris Gulla, who combined for a shitty average of 35.9 yards. Ohio State was handed decent field position all night long.
The bright spot might be that Penn State uncharacteristically converted on two of three red-zone opportunities, but this is dulled by the fact that they only were able to get the ball inside the twenty three times.
tOSU Quarterback Shuffle
Meanwhile, the Ohio State offense took some unexpected turns, as head coach Urban Meyer decided that starting quarterback Cardale “We Ain’t Come Here to Play School” Jones was not doing the job effectively, yanking him. Jones wound up his stint with 9-15 for 84 yards and a QBR of 14.2. Meyer replaced him with dual-threat J.T. Barrett, who completed four passes out of four tries for 30 yards, but racked up 102 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns on the ground. His speed continually burned our vaunted defense as tOSU seemed to go into full option mode.
After the game, Franklin remarked that PSU’s defense had been handling the pocket passer [Jones] well, but when Barrett came in, they were unable to contain him. Duh. No kidding. James Franklin: Master of the Obvious.
Zeked to Death
Also pounding away at the heart of the vaunted Penn State defense all night was super-stud runner Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliott, with 27 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown, extending his streak of 100-yard games extending back to last season. If Penn State was going to have any glimmer of hope in this game, the vaunted defense had to stop Zeke. It didn’t, although they made it rough for him in the early going. That didn’t last long. Between Elliott and Barrett behind a competent offensive line, they accounted for more than half of the Buckeyes’ total offense of 429 yards and wore the Penn State defense down to a pliable mass of warm putty by the fourth quarter.
I suppose one has to look for small miracles if large ones don’t present themselves. This was a helluva lot better performance than the last game at Ohio Stadium, which was well out of reach at halftime, already, even, and wound up 63-14. The best spark of optimism for the future is that no matter how crappy the offensive line might be, Saquon Barkley has the capability to provide a big chunk of the offense all on his own.
On the coaching end, though, what do we have to look forward to? More crappy play calling and questionable decisions? Why were Barkley, Lynch, Hackenberg, and the other starters still in there at the end when the game was out of reach? There are winnable games on the schedule, but losing these starters would just about guarantee that they’ll be losses, and with them there goes ToiletBowl.com Bowl eligibility. Why risk their injury? Franklin’s comment was the same as when asked about this in a previous game—some kind of bullshit about being in it to win it or some such thing. Hell, no. That someone forgot to manage the game or simply had his head up his ass is a better answer. Moreover, with the Nittany Lions, the buck stops right at James Franklin’s desk in the Lasch Building.
From da Peanut Gallery
I don’t believe Penn State was ever in a position to win this one. They were outgunned, especially after the maxiathleticalistical Barrett replaced the ineffectual Jones. However, there are always diverse perspectives regarding what happens on the field, so I will include K. John’s commentary, which he posted to the pre-game thread because this Turkey is always too hung over to write post-game commentary until at least Sunday night. And so, without further ado, I present K. John:
Sadly, after the first two critical calls went against the good guys, they … came predictably unglued and hemorrhaged a quick 21 points to the Bucknuts. They pulled it together at half time and made a go of it in the second half but the damage was done. One can only imagine how things would have turned out had State pulled ahead 13 to 0 or even 17 to 0. That is why Ohio State is ranked #1 and Penn State is unranked. Overall, the officiating could have been a lot worse. The hold was a 50/50 call in most leagues and in that situation, and rarely if ever called in the Big Ten making it all the more frustrating, especially when OSU had five holds quite a bit worse on its first two TD drives.
However, despite the loss which wasn’t as bad as the score indicates with State having a shot in the fourth quarter, lots to like the rest of the way. I would expect them to run off three more wins in the coming weeks leading into Michigan. Michigan’s loss was a thing of beauty. As suspected, Michigan and Penn State are very similar teams right now. Penn State is better on defense to a man and better everywhere on offense except the line. The game is at home and I would put real money on Penn State being able to outscore them. It won’t take much. Michigan, along with Northwestern has the worst offense in the Big Ten.
Ohio State should now be in cruise control mode. I don’t think Sparty has a chance at this point. They have shown no improvement week to week this season which is good enough to get them 11 wins but not 12. However, the Big Ten should be stoked at a potential title game between two undefeated teams.”
Michigan’s loss being a thing of beauty is debatable, as is the subjective appraisals of the blown calls. I have nothing to say about the latter, but Michigan lost on one of the weirdest fuck-ups I’ve seen in Division I football. With seconds left in the game, a decent punt would have sealed the deal for the Wolverines, but the punter bobbled the snap and then panicked, trying to lateral the ball with predictable results. Youth and inexperience, man. A Moo U. Defender snagged it and ran it in for the winning touchdown. That ended Michigan’s (the Fighting Harbaughs’) hopes for a Cinderella season, as they now have two losses, to Utah and now, to Moo U.
Oh, and maybe PSU can win two or three of their remaining games, but will they? Not if Hack keeps on looking like he doesn’t know what he’s doing back there and if the offensive brain trust keeps up its dumbass play calling. The Lions might get lucky and win one—if the opponent is as incompetent offensively as the Lions are when Hack is not clicking and when the play calling is dumbass, like they have been most of the season and last. Our friend Bob Flounders of PennLive.com points out that on James Franklin’s watch over the course of last season and this one, Penn State has scored a total of 63 points in five Big Ten road games, an average of 12.6 points per game. The in-conference road record is 2-3. The highest point total was 14 in the loss to Illinois last year. The two wins last year, Rutgers (13-10) and Indiana (13-7), were against crappy teams. In short, that suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks! How can you expect to win on the road if you can’t score points? Count on the defense? Good luck! I guess we’re reduced to just hoping the other teams have more offensive problems than Penn State does.
Yeah, the defense. Let’s talk about the defense. This game showed us once again that they could be beaten by the outside run over and over again. We thought they were great, but they’re just not great. They’re pretty good, but all of our thoughts heretofore were based on playing teams that were not great, or even good. A whole lot of assumptions, wishful thinking, and emotionalism are involved in the subjectively unscientific assessments of the overall defense. There is some excellent individual talent, sure; however, the proof is in the proverbial pudding.
I’m going to say that my prediction of 35-6 is this week’s winning prognostication, although I request that you do not stop to applaud. I really don’t need to be making that kind of prediction, accurate or not!
If anyone has failed to notice Baylor at this stage of the season, you better start taking notice. Their offense is averaging 719 per game. ESPN has them at #1 this week, with tOSU #2.
And in case you’re not paying attention to mighty American Athletic Conference co-leader Temple (6-0, 3-0 AAC), they did in fact beat UCF (0-7, 0-3 AAC) failing to cover the spread.
I’ll be back later in the week with my preview and prediction of the Maryland game. Lions opened as 7½ point favorites.