Penn State / Ohio State

I don't know where to begin... There are a billion articles out there about the game and Penn State being undefeated and vaulting to NUMBER 8 on the AP poll, etc., etc. - (and I'll try to link all of them) - but I wanted to get down a few thoughts of my own...

I wish I had some. The Ohio State game was like none I had ever seen before - sure I've seen PSU beat a top 10 team, dominating with defense and "get the job done" offense, at night, as underdogs, in the rain... But this was different. After the win against Minnesota, which was almost flawless, I had no idea what to expect in the OSU game. Sure the defense had been good in the first 4 games, but they had not looked "big ten ready" - And then they SHUT DOWN the Minnesota running game. The PSU offense had scored enough points to win the games (ok, they scored a lot against Central Michigan), but mistakes (turnovers) and play calling did not result in many "happy thoughts" when considering the defenses of the Big Ten - And then in the Minne game they played mistake-free, creative, effective football. The freshmen had already proven themselves to me in the early games; they play the game like seasoned veterans - running their routes, keeping aware of the coverage and their quarterback, giving 100% even if theirs wasn't the number called... and even they brought it up a notch against the Gophers. *** So yeah, I had a lot of questions and nerves going into the OSU game - because I thought they could win, and that's a feeling we haven't had for a while. Now don't get me wrong, I think that PSU should win every game they go into and I'm disappointed when they don't - but this was different.

The game was at 7:45pm and we'd been tailgating since 8am - the weather was crap all day long - rainy, windy and cold. It had been a long wait for this game - figuratively and LITERALLY. The rain and wind subsided for most of the game - but it didn't really matter - the field held up great and the Lions seemed to do even better when it did rain. Ohio scored first with a field goal - not too bad; the PSU offense was moving the ball, but not enough to get into scoring distance. The punting game was horrible - worst of the year (by far) - our punter, who had been fabulous the whole season coming into the game, was totally off his game - he had one punt that went just 22 yards and one that went only 11! But the defense stepped up and kept the horse chestnuts from scoring. Penn State got the ball on the 26 yard line and strung together a few first downs to get into osu territory - PSU found themselves with 4th and 1 in limbo land (too close to punt and too far to try a field goal) so they went for it and Tony Hunt, channeling Barry Sanders, powered his way to a 2 yard gain. The sports writers have said that that was the turning point - Derrick Williams scored a rushing touchdown and on the next series Kevin Lowery intercepted Smith's pass running 36 yards to place the Lions on the 2 yard line. Michael Robinson scored on a keeper 3 plays later. Kevin Kelly our freshman kicker hit both extra points and PSU was leading 14 - 3. The crowd (as was I) was going crazy. It felt like old times - but these were new times and there was a lot of game to be played. OSU marched down the field and scored a touchdown 33 seconds before the half to make the score 14 - 10 at halftime. The second half was a game of attrition - PSU drove down the field on their first possession of the half and Kelly hit a 41 yard field goal - the score was 17 - 10. Neither team would score again. PSU picked some of their most conservative, predictable, ineffective plays on offense (now, that's Penn State football) - And while the defense played fairly conservatively as well - they did it effectively - they were on the field most of the 2nd half - and with a short osu field most of the time too. OSU put together a drive that was fueled mostly by bizarre penalty calls but the defense stayed strong and OSU was forced to attempt a 50+ yard field goal - which they missed. The PSU offense couldn't put the plays together to get the defense some rest - but Kappinos finally hit a quality punt - which Ginn, Jr. chose not to field and the Buckeyes were pinned deep with just minutes to play - a holding penalty pushed them back even farther in the direction of their own goal line - and into the chasm of the PSU student section - OSU was forced to burn a timeout because Smith couldn't hear/communicate - this was key, later. OSU did get out of the endzone, close to midfield - but with less than 2 minutes left in the game, Smith dropped back to pass, and Tamba Hali came charging across the backfield crashing into Smith and knocking the ball loose; Scott Paxson immediately tore away from his blocker and jumped on the loose football. The officials on the field called it a fumble - the crowd went nuts - but the officials called a timeout for review. The scoreboard showed the replay and the stadium exploded when the film showed clearly that the ball was loose before Smith hit the turf - the play stood and because OSU had only one timeout remaining - Penn State was able to run out the clock - Penn State beat Ohio State 17 - 10 with no tricks, gifts or prayers (well, fewer prayers than normal) - The crowd just cheered and cheered - no one left their seats. It was a great game. They did it.

1 comment:

Dunk in Seattle said...

I was with the PSU Alumni at a sports bar at acrossed the street from the space needle watching the game with the Ohio Alumni. I don't think the folks here in Washington really know football!! I think we might have scared them with our "WE ARE PENN STATE" chanting. I missed being in the shadow of Beaver stadium with the rest of ya!!