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Penn State beats Ohio State,17-10, to take Big 10 lead
State College, PA – The Penn State Nittany Lions (6-0, 3-0) under Coach Joe Paterno made a statement in their 17-10 victory over # 6 Ohio State (3-2, 1-1), - "They're ba-ck!" Their 3-0 record leaves them as the only undefeated team in the conference, but there are still plenty of tests ahead. Two solid defenses hammered away at the offenses to a near stalemate, but the big difference in the margin was the 2 to 0 difference in the take- away department. The Lions' S Calvin Lowry intercepted a pass to set up the Lions second TD of the game, and DE Tamba Hali's sack of Buckeye QB Troy Smith forced a fumble recovered by DT Scott Paxson on Ohio State's last possession to allow PSU to run out the clock to put the game away. The longest drive of the second half for either team was 45 yards by Penn State on their initial possession which resulted in the only score of the last 30 minutes - a 41-yard FG by Kevin Kelly at the 11:10 mark of Q3 to finalize the score at 17-10. Conservative play calling by both Paterno and Jim Tressel and hard-hitting defense by both teams were the story lines for the remainder of the game on a cool, damp night in Beaver Stadium in front of 109,839 bouncing, vocal fans clad mostly in white in support of the home team.
PSU made a smart call to begin the game by deferring to Ohio State to kick off to start the first half. This put the defense, the Lions strength, on the field first to set the tone. The call paid off as the Buckeyes went nowhere on 3 plays. Unable to move against OSU's defense led by LBs AJ Hawk and Anthony Schlegel, Penn State punted and the Buckeyes put together a 44-yard drive resulting in a 30-yard FG by PK Josh Hutton. The Buckeyes held on the 3-0 lead through the end of the period.
In the second quarter, PSU took their first possession of the ball on their own 26. Key runs by RB Tony Hunt and receptions by FR WR Jordan Norwood set up a 13-yard TD by FR WR Derrick Williams who sped and wove his way around right end to finish in the end zone unscathed. Kevin Kelly's point after put the Lions up, 7-3. Ohio State started its next series from the 20 and on 3rd and long, Calvin Lowry picked off Troy Smith's pass and took it 36 yards to the OSU 2. From the one, QB Michael Robinson took it over left tackle on the third play and PSU extended its lead, 14-3. The score seemed to wake up the Buckeyes. Starting from their own 19 on the next series, the Buckeyes drove 81 yards on 14 plays. With :33 in the half, Troy Smith ran it in from the ten to cut the score to 14-10. Ohio State seemed to have momentum entering the second half, but the deferment of the ball to start the game would pay of for the Nittanies in the second half.
In a halftime performance seldom see at college games any more, bands from both universities performed at the half. Regretfully, I missed the traditional spelling of Ohio during pre-game festivities as a bio call before the game led me swimming upstream against the in-bound crowd pouring into section EG minutes before the game. That's the price one pays when tailgating hours before a 7:45 kick-off. Fowler, Corso, and Herbstreit did their Game Day half-time show for ESPN down by the southern end zone during the half. We haven't seen them at one of our games since the Virginia Tech-Pitt game in 2003. They hadn't been to State College in a while, but maybe things are beginning to change. Maybe there will be more frequent trips to PSU again in the near future. Some people think it's a good thing to see Notre Dame, Penn State and Alabama back in the hunt for the top spot in college football.
The Lions took the ball on its opening drive from its own 31 to the Buckeye 24 where Kelly put up three for the 17-10 lead. From there, it was all defense. PSU only tallied 39 net yards for the rest of the game. OSU would drive 28 yards to the PSU 33 at the end of the quarter, but from there, Josh Hutton's 50-yard attempt fell short. It's a good thing former PK Mike Nugent moved on to play for the NY Jets this year!
The Buckeye's longest drive of the second half was its final one. OSU moved 37 yards starting from their own 11 before Hali put his helmet into Troy Smith's chest as he looked to throw down field. Taking the ball over at the OSU 48 with 1:21 left and no time-outs for Ohio State, PSU chewed up clock by taking a loss on each of its subsequent plays until 25 remained, and then the Beaver Stadium student section went wild like never witnessed before. The team ran over to salute them as the entire crowd was fired up more than ever before, but even after the teams left the field, a large swarm of students remained to cheer as the night wore on. Their team was atop the Big 10 by itself alone for the first time in a long time. Unlike students of the past, there's a few classes of PSU students who have never known the elation before. Hopefully though, they'll learn how to handle it a little better by not jeopardizing to conditions of their team's playing field. Cops used mace on several students who were requested by the PA announcer to leave the playing field. We were surprised Joe didn't come out to chase them off like some old Coger protecting his precious lawn. He was probably too happy to have won this one to bother with the celebration, especially since the students camped out this week in "Paternoville". PSU can hopefully maintain their composure coming off this high as it travels to Ann Arbor next week to face the dangerous, wounded Michigan Wolverines (3-3), which will be a real test of this team's character. With one loss in the conference, the Buckeyes go home to face Michigan State (4-1), a team also reeling from their last loss two weeks ago to Michigan.
Extra Points: Traveling through eastern PA through a driving rainstorm Saturday morning prompted us to forgo our plans to see the Alma Mater, Juniata, face Susquehanna, in nearby Selingsgrove. That and that fact that we thought we'd much rather party with friends at a D1 game where the two teams had one loss between them as opposed to two D3s with one win between them. We made the right choice. JC was embarrassed 35-7 by the Crusaders to fall to 0-6. We evidently wouldn't have stayed long any way, regretfully! We wonder if fellow alum Chuck Knox of previous NFL fame would be willing to resume his coaching career at our Alma Mater. He's not as old as JoePa. Is he?
The 109,839 in attendance was the second largest ever for Beaver Stadium. The biggest ever was in the 2004, 40-7 win over Nebraska. CFF was there for that one, too. 110,753 were there the night that Beaver Stadium "bled". Nebraska fans streamed out of the northeast corner early and steadily during the second half of that game. CFF has been in attendance at the top 5 largest crowds in Beaver Stadium history. The others were the Miami game of 2001 and the Northwestern and Michigan State games of 2002. The Miami game was the first game in expanded Beaver Stadium, and the other two were played during PSU's last winning season when they went 8-3 before losing to Auburn in the Capital One Bowl that year.
JR LB Paul Posluszny not only graced the cover of this week's game program, he led the Lions with 14 tackles one week after winning honors as the Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week and Big Ten Co-defensive player of the week for his performance at Minnesota. He also sacked Smith for a key 10-yard loss. This kid is quick, tough and good! He, and his fellow LBs, are putting Linebacker back into "Linebacker U". It was quite a night to showcase their talents against the Buckeye trio of Hawk, Schlegel and Carpenter. The good news is that Posluszny along with Connor and Shaw are back next year as the backbone of the Lions' defense.
Guest game analyst Alex Koreivo was happy not to have attended two games this day since her focus is totally on PSU and not her dad's alma mater. Some day, she hopes to go to PSU, and her experience at this game only strengthened her resolve. She enjoyed being part of the bouncing and singing and cheering. She said it was much more fun than our venture to watch Baylor beat Army 20-10 a few weeks ago. She said that was boring.
CFF stayed with friends Rich and Laurie Williams who now live in Lewisburg, home of the decimated Bucknell Bison, loser this week to Penn, 53-7. We tailgated with them and some of their other friends. Then we ventured out to meet up with Jim and Biffy Malayter who had such a prime tailgate spot, I'm not going to divulge where it was so we can take advantage of it with them in the future. We found out Jim now has a claim to fame with the college football elite. Jim coached football as an assistant at Boonton High School (NJ) for four years. With coaching demanding much of his time and realizing it would be tough raising his new family, he stepped down. His replacement? BHS gave his position to some first-time coach named Charlie Weis. Ever hear about this guy? Credit Jim with Notre Dame's success this year!
We also sat with longtime CFF colleague and PSU grad John Massimilla of the Altoona Massimilla family. With PSU at 6-0, we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but since we probably won't re-connect for the balance of the season, we promised to figure out our bowl options now that PSU is "bowl-eligible" ( we still hate that term because 6-5 teams deserve bowls?). John was with us in Pasadena for the 1995 Rose Bowl. Could we be so lucky again? We need to let the Lions take care of business first next week in Ann Arbor, but hey, we'll settle for Tampa, Orlando, San Antonio, whatever!