I’m a little late in penning my Ohio State vs Penn State 2014 football game recap, so this will be anticlimactic, albeit highly opinionated (big surprise!).
I don’t think anyone anticipated the kind of game it would turn out to be! Took me a while to collect my thoughts and prepare to eat some crow — and some eggs, tomatoes, and cheese.
First, I’ll briefly summarize the game details. As you know by now, the Penn State Nittany Lions (4-3, 1-3 B10/14) put up a helluva fight later in the game to overcome a 17-0 deficit to tie the Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1, 3-0) 17-17 at the close of the fourth quarter, then wound up losing in two overtimes, 31-24.
You would have been a winner if you had taken the over. None of our crack predictors captured the way the game played out, so no shout-outs this week. We’ll all do better with Maryland on the horizon, I’m pretty sure.*
Let’s get down to eggs, tomatoes, and cheese.
- Egg on my face for saying the PSU defense would fail the first real test of the year. They excelled in this memorable game, shutting down tOSU passing game and even intercepting J. T. Barrett twice, and this, with the injury to Ryan Keiser necessitating his replacement with freshman Marcus Allen. Mike Hull was a madman and so was Anthony Zettel, whose pick-six interception in the third quarter provided the Nittany Lions with their first seven points and turned Big Moe their way. However, the tOSU offensive line dominated the war in the pits most of the first half until the grand awakening of the PSU D occurred. The Buckeyes seemed to be able to run at will. Zeke Elliot wound up with 109 yards on 26 carries, and Barrett had 20 for 75.
- The Penn State running game once again laid an egg with an average of 0.5 yards per carry. The injury to Zach Zwinak on the opening kickoff requiring that he be carted off the field certainly didn’t help, although it arguably got Akeel Lynch more carries, something we had been hoping for. Bill Belton managed to come through with a touchdown run when called upon at a crucial time, so it wasn’t all bad. However, I don’t care if you had Ameer Abdullah back there — behind the incompetent offensive line, the rushing game would still suck. (See tomatoes, below.)
- The punting game. Oy vay. Well, at least Franklin hasn’t put all his eggs in one basket. He pulled Chris Gulla and went with Aussie freshman Danny Pasquariello, but one was as bad as the other. Gulla had four punts for an average of 37.5 yards, while his relief man from Australia had four for 31.5.
- Sam Ficken was a good egg on special teams, kicking three extra points and a 31-yard field goal. To Gulla’s credit, he functioned well as the place kicking holder when pressed into service due to the injury to Ryan Keiser.
- It is my hope that the damn offensive line situation doesn’t literally kill the goose that lays the golden eggs: Christian Hackenberg. I’ll beat on this a lot, because it has me very worried about Hack and his future.
- Rotten eggs to the PSU athletic marketing crew, who must have purchased the crowd’s pom-poms from the cheapest possible source in Southeast Asia. Crepe paper crap was wafting through the air and settling onto the field during the entire second half, looking like someone blew up a flock of sheep on the 50 yard line. I imagine the cleanup has to be interesting, to say the least.
- Christian Hackenberg was a ripe tomato for Joey Bosa and the Buckeye defense, taking five sacks and being continually pressured. His passing was erratic, tentative at times due to what commentators call “footsteps”. The lack of protection provided by the deficient offensive line has to be getting into his head, and it is certainly getting him into the whirlpool in the training room. As more weeks pass without decent protection, he’ll grow more and more shell-shocked. Commentator Todd Blackledge, a guy who has been there himself, confirmed this notion. Nevertheless, pressed into action by an almost nonexistent rushing attack, Hack managed a 224 yard, 31-50 day with one TD and two INTs. Plus, he directed a pretty amazing drive to tie the game that even the boneheaded decision to spike the ball unnecessarily wouldn’t thwart.
- What a tamayta that young receiver DaeSean Hamilton is, with 14 receptions for 126 yards! And we finally got a taste of what Saeed Blacknall could do, with a great touchdown on a perfectly thrown ball from Hack. That was the most memorable of his four receptions, but we can look to the future for some solid performances from this guy. But what about former go-to receiver Geno Lewis? What’s the deal? One reception? He took one helluva hit, though. Splat!
- The offensive line — rotten tomatoes tossed at them again from this crusty old fart. I know you’re tired of this mantra, but that’s the way it is. If you’re forced to play the McCabe Sisters and they give it all they’ve got, then quit yer bitching, right? Wrong, we can always hope for something better than what it is, no matter what the causal factors are, and we all know what they are. I will give credit where credit is due. They held it together pretty well after Donovan Smith was injured and Wendy Laurent had to come in at center. Still, to use the stupidest cliché in all the world of illiterate sports utterances, they are what they are.
- Such a tomato, already, was the “twelfth man” — all 107,895, or at least all but the few in the corner of the north upper deck wearing tomato and gray. They caused more delay of game penalties and time outs with their noise than I can even recall, keeping J. T. Barrett and Urbz on edge. I think they might have even flusterated the officials, who couldn’t seem to communicate very well among themselves (see cheese below). Great kudos to the whited-out crowd, man. Excellent work!
- Such cheesy officiating I’ve never, ever witnessed, especially not in a marquee game and not even in a high school game, already! Even Dick Witvoet’s crew would have done better — I was wishing that they were there instead of these incompetent clowns led by John O’Neill. That verschißene phantom interception was clearly dropped, but whatever angle the replay official was viewing must have obscured that fact. So, why can’t the officials see what the fans in attendance saw on the Jumbotron and what fans watching the telecast saw umpteen times? That damn interception cost Penn State seven points. And isn’t it the officials’ job to watch the clock that the rest of us can see, too? Not calling a delay of game on that field goal attempt might have cost Penn State three points. These zebras really belong in a zoo, not on a football field.
- As bad as the officiating was, I’m not willing to accept the conspiracy theory so frequently advanced by whining Penn State fans when the bad calls go against them. The bad calls that benefit Penn State are quickly forgotten; only the ones that screw us are remembered. It’s cheesy to bitch about conspiracies. Dude! Bring on the black helicopters! At this point in my diatribe it is worthy of note that tOSU right tackle Darryl Baldwin jumped early on the play that ended in Zettel’s pick-six, but illegal procedure was not called. A dead-ball foul would have nullified the play, possibly saving tOSU the seven points. I’m sure many of you saw it, but you conveniently forgot about it when the play that should have been whistled dead resulted in a Penn State touchdown. You secretly knew that PSU got away with something, but mum’s the word! Yeah, right. Come on, man! You’ve got to look at both sides and not ignore the crappy calls that wind up going your way, man!
- An offensive line that has more holes than Swiss cheese continues to be a focal point of this turkey’s concern, not only for the present, but also for the future. How long can Hack’s body and mind continue to take the punishment? How long before he says “screw it!” and transfers? How long before his psyche is permanently affected by the spectre of “footsteps”. It is clear that he is shell-shocked at this point, and five sacks in the tOSU game exacerbated his anguish. He’s a young guy, and a lot is being placed on his shoulders. He’s not going to be able to do it single-handed. He has some great receivers, but he has no time to make reads and get the ball to them. I think it was an understatement when he declared that he was frustrated, but we can’t expect any significant improvement in the offensive line situation this year. Hack will either have to grow increasingly more frustrated while looking toward the far horizon for better years to come, or bail out. We hope he has the patience to stick with it.
All in all, I have to say that I’m encouraged by the defense having passed the test. This defense can win a couple of the remaining games all on its own. Whether the offense can provide enough points is still in doubt.
Artificially Sweetened told me something that I’ve rarely heard from her. She said, “Even though they lost, the game was highly entertaining.” I told her I agreed, even though the first half wasn’t very entertaining.
There are no moral victories, says Franklin, so the only consolation will be that the Buckeyes’ failure to dominate will be noted by the playoff selection committee, as it already has by the now meaningless polls.
Of course, we in The Cave were well lubricated. As you probably know, the Ohio State Buckeyes’ colors are scarlet and gray. Our pre-game toast to our opponent was an invented cocktail called the Scarlet and Gray Pimpernel, made from strawberries (scarlet), black cherry juice, Grey Goose Le Citron (the gray), Dry Vermouth, and balsamic vinegar. The dinner feast was grilled salmon with lemon-butter-rosemary-caper sauce along with a spinach salad with strawberries, pecans, and gorgonzola cheese with a honey-balsamic dressing engineered by this old turkey, and the accompanying Pinot Noir was provided by RD, who also brought a key lime pie to complement the turkey engineered strawberry pudding (scarlet pudding).
I’ll be back with a look forward at the Maryland game. I’m off to read about the tOSU game. (I try to avoid reading others’ commentary before writing mine so as not to cloud my opinions with theirs.)
Please feel free to share your elation, woes, and frustration.
*In my family, “I’m pretty sure” translates to “I have no fucking clue.”
Yes, except for K John, our predictions sucked. But I think our mistake was overrating tOSU more than it was underrating Penn State. The 17-0 halftime lead seemed to make tOSU complacent, and Urbz’s offensive play calling after Zettel’s pick six was pretty uninspiring. Perhaps Urbz channeled the 10th anniversary of the Penn State – Iowa “classic”, and figured there was no way State’s offense could score 10 points. Plus, Barrett doesn’t really pass all that well. tOSU’s main offensive weapon is it’s running game and defending the run is the strength of Penn State’s defense.
So, I’m not going to drink the blue Kool Ade until I see how State performs against Maryland. I still think the offense sucks – they racked up less than 150 yards during the first 50 minutes of the game. The punting still sucks. And I’m not convinced that the defense will hold up against a competent passing attack. If State can hold Maryland to two touchdowns and score more than two TDs themselves, I’ll start to believe.
The Nittany Turkey says
Yeah, I am right with you on the show-me vs. the Terps, although I’m secretly hoping it’s a blow-out so I can rub the nose of a certain orthopedic surgeon in it, he being a UMD med school alum who got pissed off at the University president when he signed off on joining the Big Ten.
“Now, we can go back to losing to Penn State every year, just like we used to,” he said.
But I digress.
A noon start and a less than full Beaver Stadium suggest a return to the dullard looks and the first halves on life support. So, I’m not expecting to see a whole lot of offense from PSU at all against Doc Schroeder’s boys. Still, if the defense can hold Maryland to 17 or less, I might see my way to the offense finding enough points to reward them with a win.
Well, we all sat down to watch a game that we thought we knew what the outcome was going to be ahead of time (and it wouldn’t be pretty.) So we decided no going crazy, no throwing hats across the room, no questioning coaches, play calling, missed tackles, dropped passes; no pressure, just sit back, eat and drink and let the current take us over the falls! Well by the middle of the fourth quarter we were back to sitting on the edge of our collective seats thinking that somehow (unbelievably) we had a chance to pull this out of the ashes. We didn’t find my son’s hat until he was ready to leave.
Say what you want, Shoop had the defense ready to go. I won’t fault them for the OSU OT scores, which they made look really easy as I’ve got to believe by that time they were flat-out exhausted. Pretty much nothing worked for OSU in the second half due to the defense playing at a berserker level. So much so that Urbz went back to trying every back up quarterback on his roster to take the snap and just run. Hats off to the entire defense-besides Hull and Zettel, Barnes was back to his freshman year performance, Wartman and Bell look like we’re going to be pretty solid at LB for the next couple of years, Williams looks like he’s over the shaky play he had earlier in the year and Marcus Allen made me forget that Keiser wasn’t playing. I’m also over LJ-Spencer has the front four playing at an elite level and we have a pretty solid two-deep that rotates on a frequent basis without much of a drop in performance.
Punting???? Going back to the “street” football games of my youth, perhaps we should just drop Hackenburg back 15 yards and Holler “PUNT” and have him just chuck the ball downfield, or send everyone deep on fourth down and just throw the damn ball to someone from the other team! Either has got to be better than what we’re getting today.
Finally-the wildcat used as it should and Belton not dancing around in the backfield looking for an opening! Yeah, I worry about Hackenburg a lot! But apparently at the player’s only meeting they had last week, indications are that he stepped in front of the team and was pretty inspiring with what he said. Realize that this guy gets about 2 seconds to make his progression reads and get rid of the ball-about 2-3 seconds less than most QB’s would. And he still threw for 224 yards. I would love to see an end zone view of the field behind our offense, because I still feel that our receivers are not getting enough separation (Lewis, James?). Funny, watching the Steelers-Colts yesterday, my wife remarked that watching Luck against the pressure the Steelers were bringing reminded her of watching Hackenburg on Saturday night. When he had time to throw, he was light’s out; when the Steelers collapsed the line or had someone in his face, well not so good. Unfortunately, Hackenburg doesn’t get ANY time to throw.
Perhaps there is finally some recognition that Lynch needs to get more carries (from CJF presser).
Q: Can you talk about Akeel [Lynch] tonight and the running game and the spark he gave you guys?
A: I was pleased with Akeel. He was decisive. He is a big, physical guy. He’s able to get downhill. I thought Bill [Belton] did some nice things early on making some people miss. One of the things I think Akeel does a great job of is he makes a decision about one cut, hits it, and gets downhill.
“. . .he makes a decision about one cut, hits it, and gets downhill.” ‘Nuff said!
I think the line actually played better after Smith went out and Laurent went in, but it’s pretty much shuffling deck chairs on the titanic at this point. Hope Smith is okay though and perhaps we can get Dieffenbach back for a few series next week.
I too wondered about the spiked ball in the fourth quarter. CJF offered this in his presser:
Q: Right before the field goal at the end of regulation, on first down you chose to spike the ball. Can you provide some insight into that decision?
A: We signaled a play in and it got screwed up. Rather than running a play in the wrong situation, Christian decided to spike the ball which I think was a good decision.
I also can’t wait for K. John’s response on the officiating or lack thereof.
I don’t know whether either of the major officiating gaffs would have changed the game and took 10 points off of the final OSU total, but I know they scored on a short field drive when the interception ruling wasn’t overturned and their placekicker was at the end of his range-5 yds makes him try a 54 yd FG and maybe Urbz decides to punt. Apparently the B1G felt they had to expand on the shit answers the referee gave after the game.
Regarding the interception replay:
On Sunday, the Big Ten said “the video feed to the replay booth was tested and confirmed on Friday and prior to the game on Saturday, but at the start of the game, the booth was no longer receiving all available feeds. The technician in the booth followed procedure by contacting the production truck, which immediately began working on the issue. Due to these technical difficulties, only one isolated shot from the overhead camera was available and the view did not provide sufficient information to reverse the call. As a result, the play stood as called. The production truck rectified the technical issues shortly thereafter, and the replay booth had access to multiple feeds for the remainder of the game.”
Okay, so are these guys locked in a sub-basement room? Since they were getting the same network feed that was being broadcast to us poor folks at home, couldn’t they just have gone to the network booth to check the replay there??? Seems to me that this happened a couple of years ago during an NFL game and that’s exactly what the replay official did. Or if they weren’t in a windowless cave, couldn’t they have just stuck their heads out of the goddamn booth and looked at the $10m HDef stadium displays????? Seems like that’s what everyone in the stadium was doing!
And on the play clock expiring on the FG attempt:
The Big Ten said in a statement “a breakdown in officiating mechanics occurred and the crew failed to properly monitor the play clock. There is flexibility for a slight delay between the play clock and the snap of the ball, but in this case, the timing far exceeded the tolerance for normal play clock procedures. The proper ruling should have been a five-yard penalty for delay of game.”
Breakdown in officiating mechanics? I would expect that in HS or a D3 game, but come on Mr. Delaney, spend some of that cash on at least some guys who know what their function is on the field during the game!!!
So was this a watershed moment for this team as some of beat writers are telling us today or was this a game they just played beyond their collective capabilities and they’ll be back to their old self against Maryland. Noon kick after a ball’s out emotional loss., I guess we’ll know around 4PM next Saturday.
Finally, a season ticket holder friend of mine was at the game, and doesn’t recall a crowd as loud since he’s been going to the Beav. His seats are about 3 sections away from the student section and he said you couldn’t hear yourself talk in the stands. He said pretty much everyone stayed and gave a standing ovation to the team at the end of the game. Only thing he was really pissed about was OSU singing their alma mater while PS was singing theirs.
The Nittany Turkey says
K. John issued a terse statement as a comment to the game preview post.Just in case he’s too disgusted to comment further, you can catch it there. I can understand his chagrin over the piss-poor officiating, but I stop short of his conspiracy theory about Penn State being targeted with poor officiating when they play Michigan and Ohio State.No one is talking about the blown false start penalty that would have nullified Zettels pick-six. Perhaps they threw that one in just to make it look good? LOL. Nahhhh, these guys were just blind in general. We see only the ones that go against our boys. That’s human nature. I’ve seen no mention of it in the PSU-oriented media, but one guy mentioned it in an Ohio paper (the Columbus Dispatch).
I think it’s important to view the totality of the officiating experience, as one has no credibility looking at it from a continually biased, grousing, one-sided perspective, conveniently ignoring the calls that are favorable to the good guys. I give great credit to the Buckeye media for including that false start gaffe as well as decrying the erroneously upheld interception and the field goal with -3 seconds on the play clock. Of course, they won, so they can be magnanimous in this regard and come off looking “fair and balanced”, as the biased Fox News people would call it. From the loser’s perspective, bitching about it continually doesn’t put any wins on the scoreboard but I guess some feel vindicated by it.
I would rather win fair and square, without help from bad calls, and leave no doubts in anyone’s minds. Alas, it can’t always be that unambiguous, especially with consistently crappy Big Ten officiating.
No amount of league machinations will mitigate the shitty refereeing of this game. It sounds to me like they’re backing into excuses, although they did seemingly admit to the blown delay of game call on the field goal attempt. Even if this was a game of lesser importance for both squads, like say the previous PSU-Michigan game, the officiating would have been criminal, but even Dick Witvoet’s crew couldn’t get it that bad. I agree with you that even if what the B10 professed to be the truth with respect to technical difficulties was true, this is the kind of situations where exceptions to rules must be made — and I believe that a duly empowered official with any brains or even just common sense would have improvised, adapted, and overcame the momentary adversity. As you note, there are millions of dollars worth of video displays all over the damn stadium, and the replay was available to all but a dozen people the blind-ass officiating crew. What the hell good is a replay system if it works only part of the time? Never mind that the official who originally called the interception was blind. The NCAA rule says:
I suppose that if you interpret that literally, you have the notion of a sequestered troika of replay officials who can neither go out the door of their separate, secure location in the press box nor allow anyone else in. But still, man…
Off the officiating morass, already!.
Moving right along, I’m not buying the watershed moment deal. What has improved regarding my mindset is a significant upgrade of my regard for the defensive unit. They’ve shown me that they can play against a team that has a wealth of talent, even if Urbz is worried about his offensive line. (That’s another vote of confidence for the PSU defense). Next week, with a noon start, a somewhat less than sold-out Beaver Stadium with late-arriving, hung over students, an emotionally hung over team, possible injuries to ZZ, Keiser, and D-Smith, and a lot of whirlpool time for Hack — well, I’ll expect some regression to the well worn and somewhat disgusting mean.
As Franklin said, there are no moral victories at Penn State, but I’m still pretty proud of the effort these guys put into the game. They didn’t fold in crunch time, and they made good on the few opportunities they had in the red zone, at least until the second overtime.
K. John says
For the record, I do think Penn State was targeted by Big Ten officials in 2012 (nothing else comes close to explaining multiple calls and trends that year) but in general, I think Michigan and Ohio State get the benefit of the calls regardless of who they pay. Not just Penn State. I grew up in Big Ten country and have been watching Big Ten football for a long time. Penn State has been shafted quite a bit but the not as much as some other Big Ten schools whose shaftings have gone under the radar because they didn’t have Joe Paterno openly talking about them and they didn’t occur in games that directly impacted national championships.
The Nittany Turkey says
And they sure as hell didn’t have Paterno chasing the crew chief into the locker room!
Ahh, well, if anything, there’s plenty of discussion fodder in this issue, ranging from out and out conspiracy to just a bunch of incompetent clowns (I’ve seen that word a lot lately) who couldn’t call a Pop Warner game. I’ll certainly join you in opining that the Big Ten will do nothing in the way of setting these particular harlequins back in any way. They’ll get a limp-wristed wrist slap and that’s about it. That’s a shame, because it cheapens the game and allows plenty of latitude for conspiracy theorists.
hamilton lawrence says
Worst officiating I have ever seen in a major NCAA game. How those boobs in the review booth and the ones in the stripes on the field missed those calls on the OSU interception and OSU field goal is beyond me. They don’t have a tv in the review booth? No official watches the play clock? Are you kidding me? My wife knows NOTHING about football and when she saw these 2 things she knew something was wrong. Who were those guys? We want names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses. Someone get on that!
The Nittany Turkey says
John O’Neill is the crew chief, and the league should fire his ass. Tom Fiedler is the replay official, and he has some ‘splainin’ to do.
K. John says
I actually see three positive outcomes of this game.
One, they found their free safety for now and the future.
Two, we no longer have to listen to all that idiot Barrett for Heisman talk anymore.
Three, given that playoff seeding is going to come down to splitting hairs between 1 loss team, even if they win out (and I don’t think they will), Ohio State might as well have lost the game (which they did on the field) because they aren’t getting in. The officiating in that game is going to be the first thing anyone talks about when selection times comes.
The Nittany Turkey says
I was thinking about the playoff seeding at an earlier juncture. I concluded that the committee would view tOSU’s crappy play in the second half as a disqualifier if it comes down to choosing among one-loss teams. But hey, you and I both know that they’ll lose to Moo U. (If not Illinois. LOL).
Marcus Allen looks good. He does his daddy and his godfather (presently serving 10-15 for armed robbery in Nevada) proud.