Rudel: Meyer brings SEC mentality to Ohio State
Penn State fans left Saturday’s debacle at Ohio State upset with the way the Nittany Lions performed in a 63-14 loss and the way Urban Meyer piled on well after the outcome was determined.
Not necessarily in that order.
I submit two pieces of evidence.
A) Up 35-7 with less than a minute left in the first half, Ohio State used two timeouts and threw a last-second touchdown pass to take a 42-7 lead into the locker room.
B) With less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, and Ohio State leading 56-7, Penn State was granted a first down at the Buckeye 21 on a fourth-and-4 pass to Allen Robinson. Meyer challenged the spot, and the officials overturned the original call.
My take: B was worse than A.
We grew up watching Joe Paterno almost never run up the score. Nonetheless, complaining about it in the first half is whiny, and if you don’t like it, stop the other team. Pretty simple.
The fact that Penn State has been neutered by NCAA sanctions adds some debate as to whether a conference brother should keep the gas pedal floored during this period of PSU vulnerability – especially since the Buckeyes were well on their way toward naming their score.
But Meyer obviously would rather win 63-14 than 49-14.
Bill O’Brien didn’t comment about it after the game, and during his press conference Tuesday, he passed on a followup that wondered if the Lions should get more consideration from a fellow Big Ten member once a game is decided, due to their situation.
He did not think fuel was added to the rivalry between the programs.
“I think at the end of the day, in order to have a rivalry, you have to win, and so we’ve lost two years in a row to them,” O’Brien said. “I think they have one rival, Michigan, and that’s the way it goes.”
Meyer pulled his starters, specifically Braxton Miller, to protect them from injury midway through the third quarter and said, “We’re trying to be sportsmen.”
Do sportsmen challenge spots up 56-7 against an NCAA strapped program? Really?
Then again, even though it’s moving toward a four-team playoff next year, the college game will still rely on polls and the human element and thus continues to encourage the humiliation of an opponent.
That should suit Meyer, who won two national titles at Florida and has brought his SEC mentality to Columbus.
Because the Big Ten lacks another great team, Ohio State probably feels it has to pad blowouts in order to keep its chances, probably slim anyway, alive to be in this year’s BCS championship game.
And it’s not just Meyer. Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher called a fake punt with a 35-0 lead last week against North Carolina State although that, too, was in the second quarter.
Ohio State has won 20 straight games and will be favored by double-digits in each game heading into the Big Ten final. It could well be riding a 25-game win streak when it draws its bowl assignment.
Though its non-conference schedule next year (at Navy, Virginia Tech, Kent State, Cincinnati) is tougher than this year (Buffalo, San Diego State, at Cal, Florida A&M), that win streak could reach 32 by the time the Buckeyes roll into Beaver Stadium on Oct. 25, 2014.
Let’s hope so.
Penn State has been without a true rival ever since the Nittany Lions and Pitt lacked the vision to realize they’d be best off putting their differences aside and staying in the same league. I’m sure West Virginia, Syracuse and Boston College feel the same way.
The closest thing Penn State has to a rival is Ohio State, even if it will be a one-way rivalry until the day the Lions eventually – and it may be later than sooner – avenge their 49-point loss.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.