Iowa was a pretender. Penn State was a pretender. They both went down today, while Ohio State showed that they can play football.
This Turkey had nagging suspicions each time he sat down to preview a game this season, suspicions that Penn State had not yet played a decent football team. That instinct proved to be accurate.
Meanwhile, Iowa, the Kardiac Kids, kept winning and somehow made it up to #4 nationally. Each game they played made me wonder how they managed to keep winning. Turns out that they, too, had been playing against chumps. All it took was an injury to their starting quarterback and they were exposed for what they really are.
I’m not saying that Ohio State’s 24-7 victory over Penn State on Saturday puts the Buckeyes up there among the college football elite. This year’s team is not even close to being among the best they have put on the field at Ohio Stadium. They did what they had to do to win, and that’s what good teams do.
So, yeah, in one fell swoop, Iowa (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten) and Penn State (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) wind up sucking hind tit while Ohio State (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) puts itself in a position to snatch up yet another Big Ten championship with a win over Iowa next week in Columbus.
Of the two vaunted defenses, Penn State indeed proved itself to be the pretender. The Nittany Lions, who appeared slightly better on paper than the Buckeyes, wound up surrendering 228 rushing yards, while they were only able to run for 76 yards themselves. The Ohio State front seven is the most competent the Lions have faced this season, and they pushed around the hapless PSU offensive line pretty badly.
Penn State was 4-16 on third down conversions and had only nine first downs to OSU’s 15. This, of course, meant that there was a lot of punting going on, which is a very dangerous thing for Penn State, in that the punt coverage has sucked all year.
Ohio State’s Ray Small had a damn field day returning punts. He had 130 yards on seven returns, the longest being a 45-yarder at the end of the third quarter which would have gone all the way were it not for punter Jeremy Boone’s saving tackle. On an earlier big play back in the first quarter, Small scampered for a 41 yard return that put the Buckeyes in the red zone, from whence they scored their first touchdown of the day.
Here’s Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s take on how big Small was for a small guy: “It was big. Ray Small, no one understands how big of a player Ray Small is. He’s small but he makes a lot of plays, and he’s so fast. For him to take it down there and for us to punch it in and take care of the opportunity, it was huge for us to go up 7-0.”
From the small Small’s big return forward, Penn State was in the hole, and they kept digging themselves in deeper. The defense could not contain Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor — either passing or running. He had 5 rushes for 50 yards and a touchdown, and was 8-17 passing for 125 yards and two touchdowns. His was a competent performance without any serious errors.
Meanwhile, Daryll Clark had a miserable day behind a mediocre offensive line that could not afford him the protection he deserved. Clark was 12-28 for 125 yards and one inconsequential interception.
The Penn State running game, as I alluded above, was not present. Evan Royster, who had hurt himself in practice and had shaken off the injury to play, had only 13 carries for 36 yards. His long run was 8 yards. Daryll Clark was the second leading rusher with 20 yards.
Derek Moye had no catches, as the Ohio State secondary chose to cover him closely. Thus, Graham Zug was the leading receiver with 7 catches for 96 yards.
Say what you will about Pryor, but this Turkey says that he played a good game, and the proof is on the scoreboard. He hit the passes he needed to hit and he was a slippery runner, as usual.
Unfortunately, our hitherto quasi-untested Nittany Lion secondary proved itself to not up to today’s big time test, as Ohio State’s DeVier Posey slipped behind the safeties for a third-quarter touchdown reception that broke the Lions’ spirit. That made it 17-7. Ohio State would score one more touchdown; Penn State would not score again.
I won’t even get into the sportswriters’ angle about Pryor having chosen Ohio State instead of Penn State. Yeah, Penn State recruited him haaaaaaaaaaaaaaard, but what’s done is done. Time to forget about that stuff. He proved that he is a competent player today — and he has less talent around him than he did last year.
During what classless fans apparently call “Ohio State Hate Week”, a t-shirt had come out with a picture of a disconsolate Pryor taken after last year’s loss saying something like “I made a big mistake because I wanted my name on my jersey.” The team and the athletic department jumped all over that disgrace before many were sold. That’s not who we are. We are Penn State. Leave the trash talking and the no-class crap for the true bottom feeders of football fandom. Break bread with thine enemy, dumbasses of the moronosphere!
“We broke down on a kicking play, had a couple tough penalties, we didn’t get any field position,” Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. “It was a tough ballgame for us, it really was, against a good football team.”
Yeah, it really was. But the pecking order in the Big Ten has been clarified. Ohio State is the top pecker. (Forgive me — I couldn’t resist!) Penn State and Iowa are not on their level. No way will Iowa beat the Buckeyes next week, with or without Stanzi. Ain’t gonna happen.
Moreover, Joe, did we ever break down on a kicking play! More than one, Coach! How about giving up punt returns of 45 and 41 yards? How about that kickoff on which the Ohio State return guy bobbled the ball and it still took a half hour for the Penn State coverage guys to get to him? How about Zug nearly losing the ball on a punt return? We continually break down on kicking plays. This is nothing new, Joe. We have done this all year, damnit! Wasn’t it simple missed one-on-one blocking assignment that cost us the Iowa game? Wake the hell up!
We were shown up by a team with a backup kicker, Devin Barclay, filling in for his fallen comrade. We even helped the guy. A 42-yarder might have been out of his range, but Ogbu decided to jump offside and move the ball five yards closer to the uprights. Barclay made that 37 yarder. Yet more special team incompetence by the Lions.
Where to from here for the Nittany Lions? With two games left, Indiana at home and Moo U. at East Lansing, the Nittany Lions will have to focus on winning in order to get a decent bowl bid. Having lost to both Iowa and Ohio State, the Big Ten title (and with it, the Rose Bowl) are probably unattainable. I think the Capital One Bowl is an appropriate target at this point, but that’s putting the cart before the horse. I don’t want to go into the mathematics of the thing, and I sure as hell don’t want to squawk about who “controls their own destiny.”
Ohio State plays Iowa next week and then Michigan. This Turkey thinks they will win both those games, thus winning the Big Ten title.