COLUMBUS, Ohio - Stefen Wisniewski was furious and didn't want to hear anything about how well Penn State had played in the first half.
"We blew it in the second half," said Wisniewski, the most outspoken member of the Nittany Lions.
Penn State faithful will look at the first-half effort against Ohio State and feel like the team has made a lot of strides. Still, what took place in the second half was an unmitigated disaster.
That's when everything fell apart against a clearly superior team.
The No. 8 Buckeyes obliterated the Lions after intermission, scoring 35 unanswered points for a 38-14 victory before 105,466 fans at the Horseshoe.
Penn State's players talked about how "ridiculous" and "insulting" it was to be 17-point underdogs early in the week. Virtually no one in the country agreed with them as all the betting money was going on Ohio State, pushing the line up to as high as 20 1/2 in some locations by kickoff.
The Associated Press
Ohio State receiver Jake Stoneburner catches a 3-yard touchdown pass against Penn State’s Drew Astorino to close out a 35-point second half for the Buckeyes.
That point spread indeed looked ridiculous when PSU was holding a 14-3 halftime lead. But two hours later, looking up at a 24-point differential on the scoreboard, the insult had turned into actually.
"Most people looking at that score are probably going to think Ohio State dominated this game, but they didn't," said Wisniewski, a starting guard. "We had it, and we blew it."
The game was the exact opposite of what transpired last week, when PSU overcame a 21-0 deficit with 35 straight points to beat Northwestern.
"It kind of lets us know how they feel," running back Evan Royster said of Northwestern. "It's tough. It's not a good feeling."
The Lions went from playing great to hemorrhaging and being unable to stop the bleeding. And it happened in a hurry.
"Things were looking good for us," Royster said. "I don't know how things changed so quickly. It was just like that, and it's tough to change momentum once you lose it."
Matt McGloin threw two TD passes in the first half, and Penn State's defense bottled up Terrelle Pryor & Co. for the 14-3 lead.
"We were confident, we felt like we were playing our game," safety Drew Astorino said.
The Lions even had the ball to start the second half, although they stalled at the Buckeye 47.
Things started to unravel on Ohio State's first possession of the third quarter. The home team took over at its 4 and ran it right down Penn State's throat with a 12-play, 96-yard TD drive, with 76 of those yards coming on the ground.
The Buckeyes finished with 314 yards rushing, 190 by Dan "Boom" Herron on 21 carries.
"We started to miss some tackles," PSU defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said, "and when that rears its ugly head ..."
Facing adversity for the first time, McGloin crumbled. He threw two pick-6s and, after piling up 141 yards in the first half, had only 18 after intermission.
Buckeye cornerback Devon Torrence stepped in front of a telegraphed pass intended for Michael Zordich, tipped it in the air a couple of times and pulled it in. He raced 34 yards to the end zone for a 17-14 lead.
"The kid from Ohio State started to drop like he was gonna take the curl away, and he jumped up and made a great play," PSU quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said.
Penn State (6-4, 2-3 Big Ten) went three-and-out on its next two possessions, the second after Pryor was picked off at the 2 by Malcolm Willis. Ohio State (9-1, 5-1) held the Lions to four yards following the interception, took over again at its own 45 and caught a big break that pretty much buried PSU.
A holding call put the Buckeyes in a second-and-23 hole, so Pryor fired a bomb to the end zone intended for DeVier Posey. Lion defenders Astorino and D'Anton Lynn were in perfect coverage and knocked the ball away, but it bounced straight up and into the arms of trailing receiver Dane Sanzenbacher for a 58-yard score that made it 24-14.
When a team has already lost momentum and sees a play like that, well, that's pretty much all she wrote. And it was.
"It sucks," Astorino said of the freak TD.
"That's disheartening," Bradley said.
Frustration started to turn into embarrassment a few seconds later when, on PSU's next possession, Travis Howard picked off McGloin and returned it 30 yards for a TD and 31-14 lead.
Joe Paterno offered little insight into how things got out of hand so quickly.
"They played a little better second half," he said of the Buckeyes.
Wisniewski was a little more candid.
"We had the game in our hands, and we blew it," he said. "We dominated the whole first half, had control and then we gave it back to them.
"We gave it to 'em. Gave it to 'em," he later added. "You can't afford to give up 14 defensive points playing a good team like this on the road."
Ohio State finished off the blowout with a 3-yard TD pass from Pryor to Jake Stoneburner with 3:59 to play.
Royster carried 16 times for 49 yards, while Silas Redd had 36 yards on 11 carries against the nation's fourth-ranked run defense. McGloin finished 15-of-30 for 159 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.
"We're disappointed, but we've got to look at it in a positive way," receiver Brett Brackett said.
Wisniewski, on the other hand, said no one on the team should be feeling positive about how things played out.
"I don't think anyone feels good," he said. "I'd be shocked. I'd actually like to talk to that person and ask them why. There's no reason to feel good about that."