1. Last night's game can be summarized in one word: Awful. The offense, the defense, the special teams, the play-calling, the execution, the intensity, the composure, the officiating, the scheduling, the weather, Kirk Herbstreit. All simply awful.
2. Conventional wisdom (or irrational hope) states that the Buckeyes needed a "learning experience" or a "wake-up call" or some sort of "teachable moment", and now that they've got one they'll be able to right the ship and cruise into the play-offs. Certainly something similar happened after bad losses in 2014 (Virginia Tech) and 2015 (Michigan State). Sometimes a loss is a good thing long term. Usually it's a warning sign.
3. Ohio State led the time of possession battle, 37:19 to 22:41. That's mainly because Penn State's three touchdown drives didn't consume very much time. Their first was 7 plays for 74 yards in 1:00; their second was 5 plays for 90 yards in 1:20; and their third was 0 plays for 60 yards in 0:00 (blocked FG).
4. Ohio State's defense was schizophrenic. They gave up two very long, quick strike touchdown drives in which Penn State averaged 13.7 yards per play (12 plays, 164 yards). However, on Penn State's eleven non-touchdown drives (not counting the kneel downs at the end), the defense held the Nittany Lions to 125 yards on 51 plays (2.45 average) and just three points on a short field goal after a blocked punt.
The defense held Penn State quarter back Trace McSorley to 8 of 23 passing, for 34.8 completion percentage. However, McSorley had 154 yards passing, for an average of 19.2 yards per completion. Four of McSorley's eight completions went for 20+ yards (20, 26, 34, 35).
The Buckeyes held Penn State to 2 of 13 (15.4%) on 3rd down conversions.
5. The game was lost midway through the third quarter. After a safety and free kick, Ohio State held a 21-7 lead with 8:19 left in the third quarter. The Buckeyes had the ball at their own 40-yard line, they had all the momentum, and the crowd was out of the game. Time to sweep the leg, right? Wrong! The Ohio State brain trust decided that a 14-point lead was just fine, thank you, and they immediately went into Tresselball mode. Well, Tresselball is a great strategy most times, but it simply doesn't work when your defense gives up a 5-play, 90-yard touchdown drive, and your special teams surrender a blocked punt and a blocked kick that lead to 10 points for the opposition.
Meyer and Company had a chance to go for the kill last night and they failed to do so. Another touchdown after the safety and it's ballgame. But they let the chump hang around, and everything bad that could possibly happen did actually happen and now it's one in the loss column.
6. Since 1997, Ohio State has a record of 203-48 (.809 winning percentage), which is the best among Power5 teams and second best in FBS (behind Boise State). Seven of those 48 losses have come against Penn State (1997, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2016), which is the most by an Buckeye opponent. During the same period, the Buckeyes have lost five times each to Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin; four times to Purdue (!); and three times to Illinois.
7. Of those seven losses to Penn State, four have been come-from-ahead meltdowns:
In 1997, Ohio State took a 27-17 with 1:20 left in the 3rd quarter. From that point forward, Penn State used a strong rushing attack (16 carries, 185 yards, 11.6 average, TDs of 26 and 51 yards) to score 14 unanswered points and win 31-27.
In 2001, Ohio State led 27-9 with 12:15 left in the 3rd quarter. Ohio State's remaining six drives netted a total of 96 yards and ended with three punts, a fumble, an interception, and a blocked field goal. Meanwhile, Penn State quarterback Zack Mills played out of his mind and well beyond his talent level, racking up 223 total yards (95 rushing, 128 passing) and 3 total touchdowns (69 yards run, passes of 14 and 26 yards) over the final 27 minutes of the game as Penn State scored 20 unanswered points for the win, 29-27.
In 2008, Ohio State led 6-3 with just under eleven minutes left in the game. On 3rd-and-1 from midfield, Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor fumbled on a quarterback sneak and Penn State went on to score 10 unanswered points to win, 13-6.
And in 2016, Ohio State led 21-7 with 14:52 left in the game but thanks to erratic defense and shoddy special teams play, Penn State scored 17 unanswered points to win, 24-21.
So four losses, 61 unanswered points. Unreal.
8. Cameron Johnston is a great punter, maybe even an All American. But he should never be punting eight times in one game. Never.
9. Urban Meyer wants a team full of players who will choke you over a game of checkers. How about a team of players who won't choke under pressure?
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