The Nittany Lions played their asses off but could not generate the needed offense to surmount the Shmuckeyes, blowing an early lead. As it wound up, #5 Ohio State (7-1, 5-0 B10) 33, #20 Penn State (5-3, 2-3 B10) 24. The Bucking Fuckeyes should retain their #5 position in the polls and are tied with Moo U. for the lead in the Big Ten East. On the other hand, Penn State will drop out of the Top 25. They are tied with next week’s opponent, Maryland, for middle-of-the-pack mediocrity in the highly competitive division.
They Shut Down the Run (big surprise)
Ohio State shut down the Penn State running game, but that’s old news. A Pop Warner team could deliver that knockout punch to PSU, which has struggled all year to move the ball on the ground. Absent from this game once again was the rushing contribution from Sean Clifford His passing game was back this week with a credible effort of 25-52 for 361 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. In contrast, his running suffered four sacks by the Schmuckeyes, which contributed a minus eleven yards to a net total of thirty-three yards rushing.
TreVeyon Henderson, the talented Ohio State freshman, made lunchmeat out of the Penn State rushing defense, with twenty-eight carries for 152 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t need any fancy sell-out offensive line maneuvers like Illinois used the previous week. His quarterback, C. J. Stroud, another freshman, also enjoyed a successful day against the vaunted Penn State defense, going 22-34 for 305 yards and a touchdown. The Big D did a good, but not great job of containing the talented tOSU receiving corps, seeming to concentrate on Chris Olave, who they held to forty-four yards, at the expense of allowing Smith-Njigba and Wilson to roam free.
WTF? Scratching My Head.
OK, so don’t we need to talk about Franklin and his whacko, momentum shifting fourth-down calls? How about that rotten banana of a field goal attempt by so-called triple threat Jordan Stout to hand the Schmuckeyes the sure victory? What happened there?
They Won’t Admit the Flaws
I know the Sanguinarians will be complaining about what might have been if Lovett hadn’t been “forced” out-of-bounds. Oh, how life would be if the officials hadn’t flagged the “erroneous” illegal touching penalty. However, that is bullshit and once again they’re grasping at straws. The officiating was even, if not perfect, and if anything, shaded a bit in Penn States’s favor. Like the targeting foul that cost tOSU a good defender. Even Davy Witvoet in the replay booth, a notable Penn State hater who once was chased by St. Joe at halftime of an Iowa game, made a favorable call.
Some High Points in Defeat
One thing that stood out for Penn State was the third-down efficiency, where they excelled, converting eleven of sixteen. Keeping that up, along with the associated 50-50 time of possession, will be keys to any successes in the remaining four games. The defense played hard and were grateful for the rest periods provided by the offense’s ability to sustain drives. ????? ?????
Who Are We?
After eight games, we know who these guys are, and we know all about their warts. They are not the 10-2 team many thought they would be this season. Say what the Sanguinarians will, idealists as they are, depth at key positions and the lack of ability to play solid ground-pounding football have been back breakers this season. “The injury bug” is part of the game and must be offset by having capable backups. A solid offensive line is the cornerstone of a dominating offense. Neither of these areas will improve at this late stage of the season, so we’re stuck with another middling finish.
The Sanguinarians are busy trying to figure out mathematically just what it will take to get Penn State its much deserved spot in the CFP. This might involve petitioning the NCAA to invalidate two of the past three outcomes on the grounds everyone knows we really won those games. It was solar activity, assassin squads targeting our wonderful quarterback and defensive players, and Covid-19. We should get a do-over, because it is obvious that the Nittany Lions belong in the Top Five. ???? ?????
Don’t make me laugh. Yes, the Toilet Bowl in Kohler, Wisconsin is again my prediction. This, as you six long-time readers know, is my characterization of a worthless post-season outing, typically in an undesirable venue attended by a few Penn State fans who “travel well.” I think at 5-3 with Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers, and Moo U. ahead, two more losses are likely. That would give us a barely bowl eligible 7-5. We would have a bit of a cushion to stay at six wins or above. Detroit and New York in December are distinct possibilities. Ew.
Where Be Dis Goin’?
We’ll finish above Indiana and Rutgers in the Big Ten East.
But where will Franklin be next year? His stock must be sinking fast. ??? ???? ?? ??????? ??? ?????
As a final note, I’m here to eat some crow. I was surprised by the Nittany Lions’ competitiveness against a quality opponent. The expected blowout did not occur. The team we saw last night can play on anyone’s home field and deliver a credible effort. We all know the flaws but let us give credit where due.
(After taking a little break from thinking about the annual cruelty known as college football, I shall return with a preview and prediction for the battle with the mighty turtles).
Big Al says
I figured Franklin would get them up for that game. tO$U is Penn State’s superbowl and the closest they’re ever going to get to a national championship game under his leadership. The real question is whether they can sustain that level of effort for the rest of the season. Given their past performances over the last 4 years after losing to the Schmuckeyes, the chance of them playing well against Maryland is about 50%. If they don’t beat Maryland, they’re probably going to pack it in and won’t even become bowl eligible.
The biggest surprise to me was Clifford’s mobility. Franklin wasn’t blowing smoke at the press conference after all when he said Clifford was close to 100%. Although, to OSU’s credit, they didn’t seem to be targeting him very much. They have have some huge D linemen but they weren’t particularly nasty or violent. I don’t expect UM or Moo U to be exhibit that much sportsmanship.
To avoid Herbie and the other Espin talking heads, I watched the game on Sky View – where all you hear is the stadium announcer and the crowd noise. The crowd had a lot of fun our trolling our signature We Are chant. “You Suck” and “We Own” being their preferred substitutions for “We Are”. And, at the end of the game, they started yelling USC,USC. (I hope they’re right about that one.)
K. John says
I am not actually sure what Ohio State was doing most of the game from a strategic stand point. They seem bent on playing to our strengths and keeping the score closer than the game. At no point, did I think we had a shot in the second half. Ohio State was consistently ahead and did not feel threatened by Penn State so they played it safe keeping the score in check. With that said, looking forward to getting to bowl eligibility on Saturday, even if it is the toilet bowl with what looks like a 7 and 5 record.
A few thoughts on the game
Strategically, what the heck was Ohio State doing attempting to run almost exclusively through the A-Gap (center-guard). Other than Illinois, who used seven linemen, nobody has been able to run inside all year, and Illinois wasn’t terribly effective either. It is easier without PJ than with but still quite difficult. The way to run on this defense is the a mixture of plays challenging the B (guard-tackle) and C (tackle – tight end) gaps. These gaps are where Illinois made their money last week and quite honestly, didn’t need the extra linemen to do it.. Iowa took advantage of it during our game. Other teams have tried with moderate success but lacked the speed to fully exploit it. Ohio State has it but really didn’t try which is perplexing.
Defensively, the way to shut down Jahan Dotson is tight man coverage. Following the Wisconsin game, every team on the schedule have used at least some man coverage to keep him in check. Even Iowa moved to man after the first two drives. Man coverage has also proven quite effective against Parker Washington. Ohio State played zone throughout allowing Dotson to have his best game in weeks. They did manage to pin him to the sideline for the majority of the game but still gave up a couple of big plays.
Sean Clifford looked much better, but is not 100%. Furthermore, when he does get there, the staff has now shown they are not comfortably with him running the football. He may be 100% by the Michigan game however but with the exception of a broken play, I think he days as a runner are gone. Franklin is clearly terrified of playing with 14, and rightly so given the level of player mismanagement at the position.
Big Al says
Yeah, I had the same feeling you did about Ohio State trying not to run up the score. I was wondering if Day has a Pete Rose problem or whether his agent is Jimmy Sexton.