Nittany Lions blown out in prime time
COLUMBUS, Ohio – It’s hard not to look at it as the worst, and most embarrassing, loss ever for the Penn State football program.
If you consider what they played prior to 1900 football, then it technically wasn’t the worst loss. There was a 106-0 debacle against Lehigh in 1889 and a 64-5 drubbing in 1899 against something called the Duquesne Athletic Club.
But in terms of modern football, the punishment that Ohio State unleashed Saturday night on PSU was historic in every way.
The No. 4 Buckeyes obliterated the Lions’ defense in a 63-14 win before 105,889 fans at the Horseshoe. It’s the most points Penn State has allowed since the 64-5 game 114 years ago, and Ohio State’s 686 yards of total offense are the most ever allowed by the Lions, surpassing the total of 656 by Doug Flutie and Boston College in 1982.
“Probably the worst game I’ve experienced,” Penn State linebacker Mike Hull said.
Almost no one could have seen seen this coming. Not this bad.
There was some hope for Penn State going into the game, and for good reason.
The Lions (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten) were coming off a great and emotional four-overtime win against Michigan and had a week off to rest and heal up.
Ohio State (8-0, 4-0), meanwhile, looked mediocre last week in a sluggish 34-24 win over Iowa. And despite being ranked No. 4 with national title hopes, it had not dominated opponents the way Alabama, Florida State and Oregon have this season.
Those factors led many fans to believe the Lions could hang with the Buckeyes.
That, it turned out, wasn’t remotely the case.?”That’s a good football team. They deserve their ranking,” Penn State coach Bill O’Brien said.
The 63-14 final was the same score that the Lions blew out Ohio State by during their undefeated 1994 season. That was one of the most memorable games in history for PSU fans, while Saturday’s rout figures to be one of the most forgettable.
“I thought our guys made a good effort all night,” O’Brien said. “I don’t think anybody on our team quit.”
The Buckeyes were just way too good in winning their 20th consecutive game.
Quarterback Braxton Miller completed 18-of-24 passes for 252 yards and three TDs, and he ran for 68 yards and two scores. Carlos Hyde carried 16 times for 147 yards and two TDs to complement Miller in the potent Buckeye offense.
“I just love where Braxton’s at right now,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.
“We’ve got to keep our foot on the pedal,” Miller said.
The Buckeyes didn’t run up the score, it was merely that Penn State’s defense couldn’t stop anything Ohio State’s offense did. Meyer acknowledged that his players have been hearing about how teams ranked ahead of them have had blowout wins but said winning in a rout to impress pollsters “was not our mindset.”
“I like where we’re at right now,” Meyer said.
O’Brien liked where his team was at after the Michigan win, but Saturday was a different story. The coach didn’t spend time after the game talking about what went wrong and said he needs to watch the game film.
Unlike after the 20-point loss to Indiana earlier this season, this time O’Brien said he will answer questions about it during his news conference Tuesday.
“You guys bust my chops,” he said of the media criticism for him not talking about the Indiana loss. “I’ll tell you all about [this one] Tuesday.”
Penn State did some good things on offense, with Bill Belton rushing for 98 yards on 22 carries and Allen Robinson catching 12 passes for 173 yards and a late 65-yard TD.
The Lions never threatened after quarterback Christian Hackenberg threw an interception on their opening drive. The Buckeyes had moved down the field easily for a TD on the game’s first possession, and PSU was in position to match it before Hackenberg was picked off in the end zone.
Not scoring there proved costly for the Lions, and after one three-and-out, the Buckeyes scored touchdowns on their next five possessions for a whopping 42-7 lead at the half.
“Losing like that, it’s tough,” Belton said. “We’re a better team than that.”
Penn State has long prided itself on strong defense, but the Lions looked lost all night against the Buckeyes. Receivers were wide open the entire game, several times catching passes with no defender anywhere within 10 or more yards of them.
Miller picked apart Penn State’s secondary, and the Buckeyes ran at will right over and through the defensive line.
“Good quarterback, good running back, they made a lot of mismatches happen,” Hull said.
Once things started spiraling out of control, Hull said, “At that point, we’re playing for pride.”
That still wasn’t good enough to stop the Buckeyes. Nothing was on what turned out to be a shockingly disastrous night for Penn State.
“At the end of the day, it’s a game,” Belton said. “You’ve just got to bounce back.”