Penn State Dominated By Strong No. 4 Ohio State Team
In Urban Meyer’s 20th game as the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, he kept his undefeated record alive and well. The most impressive part might be how strong the victory was; the Buckeyes absolutely dominated the Nittany Lions in all facets and all phases of the game, winning 63-14.
The first two drives in the first quarter are fairly representative of how things would go for the rest of the night. After Penn State won the opening coin toss and deferred, the Buckeyes came out firing on all cylinders.
With the offense driving, Braxton Miller completed his fourth pass in four attempts for a 36-yard completion that put the Buckeyes just one yard shy of the end zone. Carlos Hyde ran it in for the score two plays later. In just 2:17, the Buckeyes gained 75 yards on seven plays to score a touchdown on the opening drive.
That drive was pretty indicative of how easy life would be for Miller and his offensive unit over the course of the game. Miller showed off his full set of talents against a lackluster Penn State defense, toying with the Nittany Lions all night long.
If he wanted to pass, he passed. If he wanted to run, he ran. If he wanted to hand it off to Hyde, the Buckeyes’ star running back had no issues making his way past the Penn State defensive line and into the second level.
And then came Penn State’s first drive, another microcosm of what would ensue over the remaining three quarters and change. Christian Hackenberg completed a few passes, Bill Belton strung together some solid runs as the starter, and the Nittany Lions eventually faced a 3rd-and-5 on the Ohio State 12-yard line.
Looking for an answer to the Ohio State score, Hackenberg cocked back and fired a bullet intended for Adam Breneman in the end zone. Unfortunately for him, Corey Brown undercut the route and picked off the pass in the end zone for a touchback.
That would become the story of the night for the offense. The unit showed some flashes of life every now and then, but generally looked anemic and was dominated by an Ohio State defense that was not supposed to play as well as it did.
Hackenberg had what was by far the worst game of his career, being replaced by Tyler Ferguson in the middle of the third quarter when he injured his shoulder on a sack. Bill O’Brien said after the game that Hackenberg wanted to go back in, but was dealing with shoulder pain and would be evaluated by team doctors.
Not only was this loss bad, it was historically bad. The Nittany Lions have not allowed this many points since a game against the Duquesne Athletic Club in November of 1899. You read that right. Not this century. Not last century. The last time that a Penn State team allowed more points than it did Saturday night against the Buckeyes was two centuries ago.
There are a lot of words that can describe what Ohio State did to Penn State in this game: domination, obliteration, annihilation, destruction, extermination, humiliation, or massacre. Whatever you want to call it, it also happens to be one of those rare losses in which you can’t pinpoint one unit or player or coach that takes the blame.
Instead, the whole team with the exception of Bill Belton and Allen Robinson get credit for one of the worst losses in Penn State history. The offensive play-calling was shotty. The offensive execution wasn’t any better. Hackenberg started the night looking off and never recovered. The offensive line struggled.
The defensive line struggled, too. As did the secondary, just about all phases of special teams, John Butler’s defensive play-calling and scheming, and even the second-stringers when some of them came into the game in the second half.
The only bright spot of the night for Penn State was Belton’s strong play as he took the majority of the carries in the game. Before being sidelined in the third quarter to avoid injuries to any integral players, Belton racked up 98 yards on 22 carries, good for a 4.5 yards per carry average.
Belton might have secured himself the primary running back job for the time being, as Zach Zwinak carried just three times for eight yards, fumbling on his final carry. That fumble led to a touchdown that gave Ohio State 49 points on the night. The game was already well out of hand, but Zwinak’s butterfinger issues will not go unnoticed.
Penn State’s first touchdown of the game came late in the second quarter when the team already trailed 28-0. The offense was able to drive 79 yards in 4:07 with the possession culminating with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Hackenberg to Brandon Felder. That drive may have been the lone drive that Hackenberg looked good on.
- Penn State ran 74 plays. Ohio State ran 77. But the Buckeyes had 686 yards of offense compared to 357 for the Nittany Lions.
- Ohio State ran for a whopping 408 yards on 51 attempts. That’s 8.0 yards per carry. Miller threw for 278 yards on 20-for-26 passing with three touchdowns through the air.
- In Christian Hackenberg’s worst game at Penn State, he was 12-for-23 passing with 112 yards and one touchdown. He fumbled one and threw two interceptions. Tyler Ferguson gained 13 more yards than Hackenberg on just 11 pass attempts — less than half of the number Hackenberg had.
- Allen Robisnson still managed to stuff the stat sheet in the game, catching 12 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown. His 65-yard score on a pass from Ferguson gave Penn State 14 points, making it the second and final score of the game for the Nittany Lions.