Complete domination. And a complete 60-minute game.
That’s something I haven’t been able to say after the first seven games, but I can say it now without any hesitation following Ohio State’s 63-14 blow out win over Penn State in front of 105,889 fans at Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
The Buckeyes scored touchdowns on six of their seven possessions in the first half, then hit paydirt three out of the first four times with the pigskin to start the second half.
All three phrases of the game were tremendous. Ohio State was an offensive machine, had a defense to back it up, and the special teams were very special, too.
In the first half alone, the Buckeyes racked up 414 yards of total offense while holding the Nittany Lions to just 158 as Ohio State went into the locker room leading 42-7.
But this was a different Buckeye team than what we saw in the previous three Big Ten outings. Against Wisconsin, Ohio State held a 31-14 lead late in the third quarter before letting the Badgers back into the game. Against Northwestern and Iowa, the Buckeyes trailed at halftime in both contests before rallying in the second half.
Penn State’s biggest mistake of the game might have been when the Nittany Lions won the coin toss and head coach Bill O’Brien elected to defer until the second half. Ohio State needed just two minutes and 17 seconds to go 75 yards in seven plays that ended in a 2-yard touchdown run by senior running back Carlos Hyde and the Buckeyes never looked back.
Penn State’s first chance with the ball netted 69 of their 158 yards in the first half as the Nittany Lions were able to move down field. But on a third-and-5 from the OSU 12 yard line, freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg apparently never saw senior safety Corey “Pitt” Brown, who intercepted Hackenberg’s pass in the end zone.
That turnover really seemed to deflate Penn State.
Both teams traded punts before Ohio State mounted an 88-yard, 12-play scoring drive that was capped off on a 39-yard TD run by junior quarterback Braxton Miller.
After Drew Basil’s kickoff sailed out-of-bounds, Penn State set up shop at their own 35. But Hackenberg was sacked by sophomore defensive end Noah Spence on first down, then on second down Hackenberg was picked off by senior safety C.J. Barnett. Seven plays and 52 yards later, Ohio State took a 21-0 lead after Miller’s six-yard touchdown run.
The Buckeye defense then forced another three-and-out, giving the offense the ball for the fifth time in the first half starting at the OSU 40. Eight snaps later, Ohio State once again found the end zone as Miller threw his first touchdown pass of the game, a three-yard scoring strike to Chris Fields with 8:24 left in the second quarter.
For all intents and purposes, the game was over at that point.
Leading 28-7, Dontre Wilson returned Sam Ficken’s kickoff 49 yards to the PSU 45. On the second play of the drive, Hyde ran away from the Nittany Lion defense to go 39 yards for the score with 3:16 to go until intermission.
The Buckeyes are up 35-7 and are still not done. After forcing another punt, Ohio State got the ball back at their own 16 with 55 seconds on the clock.
Take a knee? Not a chance.
After Hyde gained 18 on the first play of the drive and Miller ran another 12 on the next snap, three straight passing plays including a 25-yard needle-threading toss from Miller to Philly Brown with three ticks left and another TD.
At halftime, Ohio State led 42-7.
On the Buckeyes first possession of the second half following a Penn State fumble, Ohio State needed a mere two plays to go 33 yards as Miller threw his third TD connection of the contest on a 26-yard swing pass to Wilson to make it 49-7.
Midway through the third quarter, Miller was replaced by fifth-year senior backup quarterback Kenny Guiton, who had two rushing touchdowns in a mop-up role.
The final stats suggest that the Buckeyes were dominant, just like the scoreboard did. Ohio State led in every major statistical category including first downs (32-20), rushing yards (408-120), passing yards (278-237), total offense (686-357), and time of possession (33:21-26:39).
Miller had his best game of the season and finally looked 100 percent healthy after throwing for 252 yards on 18-of-24 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Miller also gained 86 yards on 11 attempts and two more scores. Hyde ran roughshod through the porous Penn State defense with 147 yards rushing on 16 carries and two TDs. All that while the much maligned defense registered six tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
With six games left, here’s hoping that head coach Urban Meyer and his staff keep the pedal to the metal.
Up next, Ohio State travels to West Lafayette to take on Purdue next Saturday. Kickoff at Ross-Ade Stadium is set for 12:00 noon, and the game will be televised on BTN.