For some reason, I was kind of worried about the Penn State game. The Nittany Lions had a good QB-WR tandem, and with OSU's shaky secondary play, I thought that it would be a fairly close game. But Ohio State was a team that came into this game with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove, both to themselves and a skeptical country.
It almost feels like OSU is a roving group of missionaries, trying to spread the OSU gospel of 'hey, we're pretty damn good, and we don't take a back seat to anyone.' And the main Missionary Man is one Urban Meyer, who put his foot on the gas and didn't take his foot off until OSU had amassed 63 points and over 600 yards of offense. Meyer is spreading the word that as long as OSU keeps winning, they deserve a seat at the national championship table. He's spreading his message his way, and as we know, we don't mess with a Missionary Man, do we, Ms. Lennox?
My mother told me good, my mother told me strong
She said, "Be true to yourself and you can't go wrong
But there's just one thing that you must understand"
You can fool with your brother but don't mess with a missionary man"
Don't mess with a missionary man, don't mess with a missionary man, don't mess with a missionary man
Your twenty game winning streak SMR Follows.
Blue Chip Stocks:
There are too many to list. Oh, the usual suspects are well represented, of course. Carlos Hyde had another monster game, as did Braxton Miller. And the Ohio State offensive line is probably the best run blocking line in America. As a unit, the Buckeyes ran for 409 yards. Think about that for a minute...Ohio State averaged more than the length of the football field in each quarter. It didn't matter who got the ball, Ohio State moved in chunks. But Miller also was deadly accurate through the air, going 18/24 for 252 yards and three TD's. Hyde once again dominated on the ground, rushing for 147 yards on only 16 carries. As good as Ohio State has been offensively this year, the Penn State game was a masterpiece. Everything OC Tom Herman dialed up worked, and this game was essentially over by the midpoint of the second quarter.
But for as good as the offense was, the defense matched them almost drive for drive. After the Buckeyes scored on their opening drive, Penn State marched down the field and looked like they were getting ready to tie it up. But Corey 'Pittsburgh' Brown made a nice read and intercepted Christian Hackenberg's pass in the end zone. It was a big moment for the defense in general, and the secondary in particular. And it was the beginning of a great night for the secondary, who only gave up 237 yards passing, and also had another interception. And yes, every yard counts, but take away the late 65 yard TD pass to Alan Robinson against the third string, and the numbers would be even better.
Noah Spence finally seemed to come in to his own tonight. He's had flashes, and maybe he was extra amped up because he was playing his home state school (who he originally committed to) but Spence had a monster game, registering two sacks and forcing a fumble. Spence, along with Ryan Shazier, lead a defense that put in their best performance since probably the Michigan State game from last year. Penn State was able to get to the perimeter early on the ground, but it seemed the Buckeyes adjusted faster than they usually do, and shut down Penn State while forcing three turnovers. And heck, while we're at it, let's throw a bone to P Cameron Johnston. By the time he was asked to punt, the Buckeyes had the game well in hand, so he unleashed a 56 yard punt that was a touchback, and still managed an average of over 46 yards a punt.
You really don't want me to assign junk bonds to anyone, do you? I mean, the Buckeyes just thumped a good Penn State team 63-14, while simultaneously avenging 1994 and handing Penn State their worst loss in school history. Well, maybe not worst, but it's the most points a Penn State team has ever given up, and PSU hadn't been beat by that much in 114 years. You know what? Just between you and me, let's call it their worst loss ever.
Buy: This team being national championship caliber, if this defense is legit. The big concern, the 600 pound gorilla in the room, was whether or not the OSU defense could step up and stop a good offense for an entire game. You can argue how good Penn State's offense is, but they have playmakers, and it's an offense that posed matchup problems for Ohio State entering the game. We can split hairs on individual stats, like Bill Belton getting almost 100 yards on the ground, or Allen Robinson's big night, but make no mistake--this much maligned defense stepped up in a big way Saturday night.
Sell: Ohio State losing. I don't mean to jinx this team, but let me ask you--who in the Big Ten looks like they can beat OSU right now? The Buckeyes offense is on another plane from the rest of this conference right now, and if the defense turned a corner tonight...oh, my. When you look at the rest of the teams in this conference, and who their opponent could be in a Big Ten Championship game, I'll take OSU against the field. Michigan State has a great defense, but Indiana hung 28 on them. I think OSU could do that, minimum, and MSU's offense isn't going to score 28. Michigan? They can't run, and Devin Gardner will turn the ball over against defenses not named Indiana. Nebraska? Are we talking about the Nebraska that lost to Minnesota? That Nebraska?
So another week passes with another Ohio State win. But this one felt different, and was a much needed shot in the arm after a couple of too close for their own good type wins. Ohio State's defense awoke and evoked memories of the Silver Bullets in the mid aughts, and if they've established a new baseline, this Ohio State team can play with anyone in the country. Anyone.
I think we'll find out soon enough if that's accurate.