These posts are always much easier to write; when the Buckeyes win while looking awful (like the last two weeks) it’s much more difficult.
The first half proceeded much as first halves have (see what we did there?) this season, with the Buckeyes coming out slow and discombobulated. Part of that may have been due to the raucous crowd in Happy Valley – in the first half they were very loud.
Penn State scored their first touchdown on a blocked punt. There have been a few of these this season, sometimes because it seemed as though Buchanan would take his sweet time getting off the kick. Last night, however, two or three Nittany Lions tore through the line without being touched by an OSU blocker. Buchanan never had a chance.
That was the only score the Buckeyes allowed in the first half where the defense played as well as it has all season. The offense, as has been its habit, began slowly, punting on its first six possessions before finally breaking through with a Rawhyde touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the half.
In the second half a completely different Buckeye team came out. Ryan Shazier continued the Buckeye tradition of returning an interception for a touchdown to ruin PSU’s first drive. The Lions countered with a field goal, and Braxton continued the Buckeye tradition of arm punting during tight Penn State games.
The Buckeye defense forced a three and out, but Penn State faked the punt. Adam Griffin – whose father was on Family Guy or something – broke up the play and the game was never the same.
Braxton Miller began running more decisively and making better decisions. The Buckeyes bracketed another PSU 3 and out with two long drives capped off by Miller touchdown runs, one of which was a perfect example of why some in the BuckeyeSphere call him xBrax360. It was ridiculous. The third quarter ended with the Buckeyes up 28-10 and the beer started flowing like wine.
The fourth quarter was highlighted by Braxton’s pass to Flash Stoneburner after which he outran the entire PSU defense on the way to a 72 yard touchdown. Other things happened too but nothing stands out enough to merit mentioning much. Moxie McGloin led PSU on two scoring drives that made the score much closer than the game was. Eventually, the clock read triple zero and the Fightin’ Buckeyes of the Olentangy had checked off box number four on their revenge list.
We should emphasize two things from last night’s game. First, the defense. We have maligned them pretty mercilessly for most of the season but we believe they played their best game last night. The two touchdowns they surrendered were after the game was really put away and Happy Valley was markedly less jovial. They held strong in the first half while the offense was shaking off its weekly cobwebs. Really an excellent performance.
Second, the officiating. The past two weeks showed us how bad football officiating can be, especially last week where dubious calls and no-calls led to anywhere between 2 and 9 Purdue points. Last night the officiating was at least fair and at worst a little slanted towards the Buckeyes. The emerging narrative in much of the PSUsphere is that the refs jobbed the Nittany Lions but, of course, we don’t entirely agree. The refs weren’t the ones flailing about trying to tackle Miller in the third quarter, and they weren’t the ones who let a converted tight end beat them deep in the fourth. There were a few occasions where OSU holds seemed to be let go, but there were also a few occasions where PSU holds were let go. There were only four sacks of McGloin and without the holds we are confident there would have been at least twice as many.
The “officials missing penalty calls against Ohio State” narrative was furthered by Chris Spielman and Sean McDonough who took it upon themselves to point out every apparent hold the officials missed. Except for the holds Penn State committed, of course. This kind of thing would be less irritating if we had heard anything – ANYTHING! – from Beth Mowins or Joey Galloway* last week when the officials were at least as bad and in our opinions worse.
* – though to be fair we imagine Mowins and Galloway were doing everything they could to speak coherent English throughout the telecast, they were so awful.
Also: Spielman, we get it – you went to Ohio State but you’re not going to be an OSU homer. There’s no need to channel your inner Herbie and swing your bias 100% to the other side when you call a Buckeye game. Love you Spiels, we’re just trying to help you here. Please don’t move to Nashville on our account.
Still, these are all minor quibbles. With the Buckeyes putting PSU back in its place and scUM losing we really can’t complain too much.