Ohio State 44, Penn State 31
The game could have gone either way after three quarters were played, but Ohio State stepped on the gas in the fourth quarter, scoring 28 points to Penn State’s 17. With a career performance by defensive end J. T. Tuimoloau, who had a monster day forcing turnovers, and by turning to their talented skill players in crunch time, they transformed what had been an off-day for C. J. Stroud into a resounding victory.
Turnovers’ll Kill Ya
After the game, I was on a bell pepper run to Publix when Chris the Checkout Guy spotted my Penn State t-shirt and bemusedly asked, “What happened?” He said he had left to go to work in the third quarter when the game was tight, and then while at work he saw the final score. “Turnovers,” I said. “Lots of them, including a pick-six.” The Nittany Lions had taken the road less traveled, and it made all the difference.
Four turnovers against Ohio State spells doom. The Buckeyes had none of their own. In an evenly played game, that’s a killer. Turnovers’ll killya. Q.E.D.
Sean Clifford came out throwing: forty-seven pass attempts, to be exact. That’s a lot of passes for our sixth-year super senior.
As Darrell Royal once said, “When you throw the ball, three things can happen and two of them aren’t good.” (Some assholes at the bar will always pop up and say it was Woody Hayes or Bo Schembechler who said it, but I’m saying it was Darrell Royal, so STFU!). Well, on three of those forty-seven pass attempts, bad things happened, and that doesn’t even count the lost possession fumble on a strip-sack.
Anyway, Clifford was 32-47 for 371 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Plus, that one disastrous strip-sack, if you don’t mind me mentioning it again. Meanwhile, C. J. Stroud was 26-33 for 354 yards and a TD. No interceptions, though. Oh, yeah. That makes a difference, doesn’t it?
Stroud’s star receivers made a difference too, although it was a wash between Schmuckeye Marvin Harrison, Jr. (10 for 185 with a long of 37) and Penn State’s Parker Washington (11 for 179 with a long of 58 and a TD).
Big Man on Defense
Defensive end J. T. Tuimoloau had a career day, including a pick-six that sealed the deal. According to ESPN, Tuimoloau became one of three FBS players in the past fifteen seasons to record two sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception, and a touchdown in a single game. Tuimoloau did even better, as he had not one, but TWO interceptions. His final line: six tackles, three solo, two sacks, and three tackles for loss.
Run for Your Lives
The Penn State running game was present, but well bottled up except for one 27-yard run by Kaytron Allen. The Schmuckeyes had similar issues running the ball against the stalwart Penn State front seven, but one 41-yard TD-scoring run by Treveyon Henderson put tOSU ahead for good early in the fourth quarter. From that point, the Bucks scored three more touchdowns, while the Nittany Lions could only muster a field goal and a meaningless touchdown with 1:12 left in the game. The subsequent onside kick failed, but at that point they would have needed two touchdowns to win.
Otherwise, the Nittany Lions outran the Bucks 111-98. But the only stat that matters is the one on the scoreboard at the end of the game.
And, In Summation…
Yeah, turnovers’ll killya. Penn State played hard and steadily. The Nittany Lions` had more first downs than their opponents, they rang up more total yards, and they did very well on third and fourth down conversions. They were moving the ball well. But four turnovers against a good team is not survivable.
For you still exuberant Sanguinarians® clinging to a false hope of a playoff spot and considering all the plausible scenarios that could put the Nittany Lions in there if the stars are properly aligned, I’ll leave you with this quote from the late, lamented John McKay, head coach of the USC Trojans (1960-1975) and the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1975-1984), one of my football quote heroes:
Three or four plane crashes and we’re in the playoffs.—John McKay
Yes, I was wrong about the game’s outcome. My prediction was 46-17 and the game wound up 44-31. From the gambling perspective, the Schmuckeyes did not cover the spread and the OVER would have been the winner. So, I’m an idiot, but I am heartened by the realization that Penn State played much better than I thought they would. We’ll move on from here, and we still can see a 10-2 season. I’ll be back with a look at the forthcoming game at 3-5 Indiana.
K. John says
The story of the game was Ohio State’s uber conservative low-risk game plan (for three quarters). Offensively, they didn’t take any chances. They ran the football, they threw short passes. For the most part, they didn’t run a route deeper than 15 yards until the fourth quarter. Conversely, we rushed 6, 7 or 8 defenders and still couldn’t get home. We bottled up their running game but they threw into the voids where linebackers should have been for easy completions while waiting for mistakes. Defensively, they pulled a Tom Bradley. They played soft, tried to keep everything in front of them and rushed all of four players on most snaps, and disrupted our game plan. We threw early and often opening up the offense more than we have to date.
Ohio State took few chances until they needed to, but once they did, the game was out of reach very quickly. Clifford is getting crucified by the know nothings but really played a heck of a game. The fumble was on the turnstiles who also played a big role in a lot of batted passes, one of which led to a INT and whiffed on the player of the week who ended with a pick six. Clifford has four turnovers but he was not the primary culprit in any of them but did play a role.
This game was ugly. At no point did it seem like we had a legit chance of springing the upset, even in the fourth quarter. We got a few calls to go our way which was impressive, and they did result in a 10 point swing on the scoreboard which almost never happens. So that is the highlight of the day. But, the story of the day was OSU playing conservative and until they needed to open it up and very quickly did the talent difference become obvious.
The Nittany Turkey says
With the 20/20 vision of hindsight, you can say, “at no point did it seem like we had a legit chance of springing the upset, even in the fourth quarter.” Is that the way you really felt at the time? Or are you just saying so now because you don’t want to admit it.
C’mon now, when they were leading in the fourth quarter, YOU KNEW they were going to lose? Give me a break.
Even I, the consummate cynic and anti-Sanguinarian felt a glimmer of hope that they could hang on. But YOU KNEW otherwise.
I will agree that the criticism of Clifford is typical fanboy bullshit. The assholes want to see Allar in there because of what? Because familiarity breeds contempt and Allar is something different? THEY KNOW that he is the reincarnation of Kerry Collins, Bart Starr, Otto Graham, and Sid Luckman. And Ben Roethlisberger, too. (Any chance he’ll be a Hackenberg of a Morelli? Nahhhhh! Oh, yeah, if he is, blame the coaches.).
When his honeymoon is over, which will be a short one given the likes of the sports fans of 2022, he’ll be in the same boat as Clifford, only sooner. First, they’ll blame the coaches, though. Just like the Steelers. I don’t believe in this Second Coming bullshit. A quarterback who can carry a deficient team on his shoulders is a rare bird.
However, I will opine that Franklin is being a stubborn prick, reacting to fan criticism by denying them their boy. Not to give his quarterback heir-apparent game reps this year in preparation for next year is cutting off his nose to spite his fucking ugly face.
I’m pissed off because Tesla didn’t fix my car yesterday, so I’ll take it out on PSU fans.
K. John says
Sorry TNT, that is exactly the way I felt the entire time. We have seen this play out before. At no point did I think we had a chance because of what I said in my post. What OSU did in the fourth they could have done in the first.
Big Al says
I should be taking a victory lap since the final margin was pretty much what I predicted.
But I never imagined that the Kitties would be able to beat the spread after being -4 in turnover margin. I have to disagree with K John about Clifford not being the “primary culprit” in any of the turnovers. Cliff was responsible for Turnovers 1 and 4 since those were passes he should never have attempted. And he was extremely lucky that another pass that he completed on the drive to put State ahead with 9 minutes to go wasn’t also intercepted. I’m sure he was just trying to channel his inner Brett Favre and make a play, but he doesn’t have Brett’s ability. As Dirty Harry famously said – “A man has got to know his limitations.”
The Sanguinarians are certain that the Kitties’ performance in this game guarantees a 10-2 regular season and a NY6 Bowl appearance, but I think the only thing it proved is that O$U is not the best team in the country. And I expect Michigan to kick their ass again this year.
The Nittany Turkey says
And I should have given you some credit in my recap, because I was thinking that you called it pretty well. You, too, will need to confess that you had a scintilla of hope in the fourth quarter that they could do the job. Hope springs eternal, but the good old Nittany Lions never disappoint if you set your sights low.
Ryan Day broke the “play conservative at Beaver Stadium” mold when he insisted on going for six instead of taking the easy three at the end of the first half. I thought that that could have been a pivotal point on which Franklin could capitalize, but no, the stubborn prick had to turn around and go balls over brains instead of playing sphincterball in the second half.
I already commented on the Clifford/Allar situation in my pissy response to K. John, so I won’t repeat it here. But I will say that Clifford is not a guy I will put a great amount of faith in when his team is down by 10 points or more. He’s no John Elway in the crunch time. Brett Favre? He threw lots of desperation time interceptions, too. So, Clifford isn’t Brett or John, and he ain’t even a Trace McSorley. But in a tough game, I want his experience in there, and I don’t want my future guy beat up and disillusioned.
I don’t know whether Ohio State is the best team in the country or not. I don’t know whether Georgia is or not. Hell, who knows, even Tennessee could be in the running. The playoff hunt seems more competitive this year than in recent years, but still a handful of teams show themselves as being hugely better than the vast unwashed. Whether tOSU belongs there remains to be seen. I’m looking forward to the MIchigan game, on which I do not agree that the conclusion is foregone.
Sanguinarians might be right about 10-2, but as the Flounders/Jones Siamese twins unit opined after the game, if they wind up 10-2, this could be the crappiest 10-2 team in history. A bit of hack sportswriter hyperbole, perhaps, but it almost hits the mark. Yeah, they could still lose to Moo U. and Maryland, even if they don’t lose in this week’s trap game, but I there’s a good chance they could win out. The Culture of Football money aspect of Penn State will guarantee them a good bowl, where they can be a side-show losing to the likes of TCU or Oregon while the big boys provide the real entertainment in the playoffs.
And yes, I’m still pissed off at Tesla.