Buckeyes Shake, Rattle and Roll to 9-0
By Brandon Castel
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Braxton Miller provided the shake and Ohio State’s defense rattled Matt McGloin and the Penn State offense as the Buckeyes rolled to 9-0 with a 35-23 win Saturday.
“When you come on the road you find out about your team,” OSU Head Coach Urban Meyer said after the win.
“It's a gladiator mentality, it's us against the world and our guys seem to thrive on that so it was against a very talented group. I'm very pleased with the team win. We rushed for what 200-some yards and then held them to 35 rushing yards.”
The Nittany Lions (5-3, 3-1 Big Ten) came into the game on a five-game winning streak, and Beaver Stadium was rocking early with the undefeated Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0) in town for a Big Ten showdown.
Ohio State’s offense got out to a slow start, with Braxton Miller looking a little shaky from his scary moment last week against Penn State. The Nittany Lions dropped what looked like a couple of sure picks in the first quarter, but the stadium roared to life on a blocked punt that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by linebacker Michael Yancich.
“It was a slow start offensively, but our defense didn't give up a touchdown (in the first half),” Meyer said.
“They scored their touchdown on special teams. It was a slow start on offense, but I think their defensive personnel had a little something to do with that, the environment, and we were close to the vest.”
After being taken to the hospital during last week’s game, Miller looked a little hesitant to run the ball in the first half against Penn State. He did end up with 59 yards on 14 carries in the first half, but his passing was all over the place.
The Buckeyes tied the game on a 1-yard touchdown run by Carlos Hyde, which was set up by Miller’s 33-yard run down the right sideline, late in the first half. The game flipped, however, on Ryan Shazier’s two big plays to open the second half.
After Ohio State’s coverage team pinned the Nittany Lions inside their own 20, Shazier shot up the middle on second down blitz, sacking McGloin in the backfield for a nine-yard loss.
On the next play, Shazier stepped in front of McGloin’s pass and picked it off at the 17-yard line on his way to the end zone for the biggest momentum-swinging play of the game.
“Game over,” senior WR/TE Jake Stoneburner said of what he was thinking after the pick.
“It was game over. It gave us all the confidence we needed on offense to know we could go out and finish out this game. We knew the defense was going to keep the pressure on them and we just had to make a few plays to win the game.”
It was actually a special teams play that probably gave the Buckeyes everything they needed to finish off their ninth victory of the season. Miller threw a pick on Ohio State’s next possession and Penn State tried a fake punt on 4th-and-9 at the OSU 43-yard line, but cornerback Adam Griffin broke up punter Alex Butterworth’s pass to running back Derek Day.
Miller finally found his groove on the next drive, as he led the Buckeyes down the field on a 10-play, 57-yard touchdown drive to give Ohio State 21-10 lead with just over three minutes to play in the third quarter.
Ohio State got a big 28-yard run from Rod Smith on the next possession, an 8-play, 85-yard scoring drive and Stoneburner slammed the door on any chance of a Penn State comeback with a 72-yard touchdown catch from Miller late in the fourth quarter.
The Nittany Lions would score a late touchdown on a broken play, but Ohio State recovered the onside kick and Hyde picked up a first down on 3rd-and-1 at the PSU 40-yard line to give the Buckeyes their third road victory of the season.
Miller finished with 134 yards and two touchdowns on the ground – including maybe the most exciting 1-yard run in OSU history – as he topped 1,000 yards rushing for the season. He was only 7-of-19 passing, but had 143 yards and a score thanks to the long play where Stoneburner got behind PSU safety Jack Fagnano.
Stoneburner finished with two catches for 86 yards Evan Spencer led the Buckeyes with three catches for 33 yards. Hyde finished with 55 yards on the ground and Rod Smith added 48, which was 12 more than Penn State had as a team.
Ohio State’s defense held the Nittany Lion offense to 16 points on 363 yards, including just 36 on the ground.
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