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Last updated: 11/20/2011 3:10 PM
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Buckeye Watch -- Penn State
By Tony Gerdeman

When was the last time there was an air of dread surrounding Michigan Week? John Cooper's final season in 2000? Well, that air is back, and it is thick with gloom. And why shouldn't it be? Jim Tressel is gone, and his 2008 class filled with scandal is left behind to lead.

We're all gonna die.

If the Buckeyes can't keep from giving away a game at home to a team that's barely breathing, then how in the world are they supposed to go on the road and actually TAKE a game from somebody with a pulse?

The most amazing thing in all of this is that with the way this team tackles—or doesn't—that Braxton Miller wasn't the starter since the first day of spring practice. I have to assume he scored on every scramble.

Whatever. Let's just get this over with and get on to Michigan. I don't want to be here any more than you do.

3:05 The wind is blowing, which means Ohio State won't pass, which is good. It also means that Penn State will still pass, which is also good.

3:09 Michigan is now up 44 to something on Nebraska. The Buckeyes are going to get killed next week. They literally have no chance. They should just send the walk-ons so as not to kill the psyche of the rest of the team.

3:24 Senior Day introductions and the sound isn't being piped into the press box. Here comes Joe Bauserman. Don't be jerks people. And they're not. It's the best ovation yet. Posey got a few boos, but a loud ovation. Boom is getting BOOOOMed. Too bad they couldn't have announced Terrelle Pryor just to see how loud this place could actually boo when at full fury. Then for all future use when sideline reporters like to talk about how loud stadiums are decibel-wise, and they always have “jet engine” or “rock concert” listed as the loudest noise, they could replace those with “Terrelle Pryor introduced at Ohio Stadium on Senior Day”. And then the announcers would say stuff like, “Wow, this Autzen crowd is really booming today. They're almost as loud as Buckeye fans booing the worst thing that ever happened to their program! That's intensity!”

3:28 Michael Brewster is the last player introduced. A center being the last player introduced probably tells you everything that you need to know about the offense this year. “Yay, we got a good center! He watches two-yard gains on second and ten.”

3:31 Sweat, Herron, Moeller and Brewster are your captains today. Both teams are meeting in the middle of the field for a handshake. Ohio State wins the toss and defers! Fickell has shown that he is learning. He needs four more years to get his players into the system in my opinion. Now that he knows what to do on coin tosses, he needs that long-term contract to get his program in place.

3:33 Doing the Seven Nation Army schtick is bad enough, but doing it with Penn State in the stadium is embarrassing. Buckeye fans should have to pay royalties.

3:34 Alright. Game on. Drew Basil's kickoff is a touchback. McGloin starts out with a play-action and he's going deep. It's incomplete but there's a pass interference on Travis Howard. He shoved the receiver out of bounds. How...typical.

3:38 Penn State is in the wildcat. The give is to Stephfon Green, and he runs right down the middle and scores from 40 yards out. I can't even call those broken tackles, because that implies somebody was actually able to tackle. Storm Klein and Orhian Johnson on the misses. Ryan Shazier also missed, but he at least had to keep an eye on the wildcat. Klein only had to fill a gap. Penn State leads 7-0. How is Ohio State supposed to come back from this?

3:42 I'm starting Boom Herron on my fantasy team today. I had no choice. And he gets one yard up the middle for the standard first down play for Boom.

3:44 Third and long. AKA: "Where Braxton Miller has to do something and usually does". He scrambles, and finds Devier Posey downfield for a 39-yard gain! Posey was pushed out of bounds, but came back in and snagged a perfect pass from Miller. I wonder if Jim Bollman gets upset when he sees accuracy from Miller considering he says he's not accurate enough to throw short passes.

3:47 Second and six. Boom gets the carry and picks up nothing. Ohio State should just start in third and long to avoid injuries.

3:48 Third and six from the Penn State 28-yard line. Terrible snap. That's about eight on the season for Brewster. Rolled through Braxton's legs and ruins Ohio State scoring chance. The Buckeyes will punt from the 35-yard line. I don't have a problem with this unless the punt goes into the endzone.

3:49 And the punt goes into the endzone. Well, that certainly makes it a worse call. And really, it's only a good call if your defense can tackle.

3:57 Stephfon Green picks up five more up the middle. C.J. Barnett is there to shut a door that was wide open. I picture him looking at the linebackers and yelling, “Are you trying to let all the heat out!?!”

4:02 Six more up the middle for Green. I hate reruns.

4:03 Third and nine. Can Penn State be stopped on third down? Empty. Four wide. McGloin throws a slant that is broken up by Bradley Roby. He got to the spot before Moye could. Where would this team be without Bradley Roby this year?

4:04 That leaves Anthony Fera with a 43-yard field goal attempt. It's good. Penn State leads it 10-0. The Nits are running away with it now. What happened to the sportsmanship of the pregame handshake, Penn State? You used to have class. The good news is that the Buckeyes are .500 when they fall behind 10-0 this season.

4:06 Carlos Hyde is in the wildcat. Gets five yards and comes back out of the game. He won't transfer now.

4:07 Speed option play-action to the right. It was an obvious play and PSU sniffed it out. They forced Miller into a scramble and they grabbed a facemask on the attempted sack. I don't study film, but when Miller is in the Pistol, it's usually a speed option to the wide side. If there are more than two receivers, it's likely a play-action speed option, which this was. Watch for it from now on. We have reached the end of the merciless first quarter. Penn State leads it 10-0.

4:14 Third and nine. Whoa! Great one-handed catch for the first down on the deep out by Devier Posey. I can't believe he caught that! Why has this guy not played more? Oh, that's right, because he was involved with Terrelle Pryor every step of the way. I almost forgot.

4:16 Third and two. They're in the pistol again. I'm not sure why they ever went away from it for such long stretches. There's a speed option to the left and Braxton Miller makes everybody miss and scoots into the endzone for the 24-yard touchdown. He loves him some third downs. That was impressive. Penn State's insurmountable lead is now a little more surmountable at 10-7.

4:22 There's a draw play and Silas Redd busts it to the Ohio State 36-yard line. That was a 42-yard run. It's a good thing an offense doesn't get points for missed tackles, or else we'd be seeing pinball number on the scoreboard right now. South Stands would be trying to tilt, no doubt.

4:23 Wildcat. Bill Belton keeps it and he breaks tackles and gets down inside the Ohio State four-yard line. Penn State has absolutely zero respect for this defense.

4:24 Touchdown Stephfon Green from four yards out. The kid was running with power that he's never had before. It's disturbing when this defense is actually giving offenses confidence. The Nitts lead it 17-7. Penn State is doing everything they want to do. Ohio State can't cover, can't tackle.

4:29 Third and fourteen. This is a danger zone for Penn State's defense. Braxton has them right where he wants them. They blitz, Miller escapes, and throws an incompletion. The Buckeyes were also holding, but that will be declined. Time to punt.

4:32 McGloin rolls out. His pass is tipped and intercepted by Orhian Johnson! But why didn't he score? I don't understand. The defense is always supposed to score on McGloin interceptions, right?

4:34 In the pistol again. There's the speed option and Miller is embarrassing folks on the fake pitch down to the six-yard line. That was 24 yards of whoa! He's just a whole other level of excitement when he's on the run.

4:35 First and goal. Wildcat. Loss of one. Why the wildcat? Defenses already know that you probably aren't going to pass. Going with the wildcat eliminates that 2% chance altogether. Yes it gives you an extra blocker to even up the numbers, but it's not like Miller is some slouch. He's your best weapon right now.

4:36 Second and goal. Wildcat again? Timeout Ohio State. I'm guessing Fickell called timeout because he actually wanted his quarterback to handle the ball down inside the ten. Crazy, I know.

4:39 Third and goal. Shotgun. Miller drops back and finds Jake Stoneburner on a corner route in the back of the endzone! Hmm...'Stoneburner'...the name rings a bell, but I can't place it from where. Was he in a movie or something? It's familiar, but I just can't remember where I've heard that name before. This is going to drive me crazy! Penn State leads it 17-14.

4:42 Curtis Drake is now in the wildcat. Come one, come all! You too can be a wildcat quarterback! No offer refused. Push, pull, or drag your sorry carcass into the Penn State backfield and they will make you a wildcat quarterback! Everything must go...and be a wildcat! Hey, there goes Drake for 38 yards. Ridiculous.

4:46 Silas Redd picks up three yards on a draw play. Why go away from the wildcat? Oh yeah, sportsmanship. Good on you, Tom Bradley.

4:51 Anthony Fera lines up for a 46-yard field goal to end the half. It's good. Penn State closes the first 30 minutes with a 20-14 lead to end the half.

4:52 Ohio State was down 14-3 at the half last year, or some such thing. This is a much better position, even if it doesn't feel like it. Buckeyes get the ball to start the half, they'll likely get a 72-yard Braxton Miller run on third and fourteen to tie the game up, and then Drew Basil will get an extra point blocked.

4:58 Penn State has 188 yards rushing in the first half. That tells you how valuable a healthy Johnathan Hankins and Andrew Sweat are. It also tells you how poorly this team is tackling. As if you needed another reminder. It would be like having a boat floating on a pool of gasoline and throwing a match overboard and blowing everything up, and then having somebody say, “You know what did it, right? It was that match that you threw overboard.” Yeah, thanks for the reminder.

4:59 Braxton is 4-8 for 64 yards with a touchdown. Only sacked twice though, which is pretty good right about now.

5:12 Time for the second half excitement. Let's see a tackle!

5:13 The Buckeyes open up in the I-formation. Boom gets two yards. Stay away from the pistol. The pistol is like fine china—only for use on special occasions.

5:16 Third and nine. Another bad snap by Brewster leads Miller to diving for a gain of about three yards. That's around his third bad snap today. That wouldn't even qualify for All-American status in Canada. The Buckeyes will have to punt.

5:22 Third and three. This is the biggest play of the game to this point. Shotgun. Draw play to Green and he follows a huge hole to the Ohio State 48-yard line. A 21-yard gain. There is no reason to throw the ball other than to set up these killer draw plays. I'm not sure what Etienne Sabino was looking at there, but it wasn't the football.

5:24 The Buckeyes hold on third and seven and force a punt. Fera's punt is fair caught at the ten-yard line. A 90-yard driving doesn't sound that hard to me, provided 83 of those yards come on one play, of course.

5:27 First and ten. Jordan Hall is in the wildcat. He keeps it on the zone read and picks up six yards. I guess Braxton doesn't know the read option as good as a running back?

5:28 Here it is again. Fumbled exchange between Boom and Hall. Penn State recovers. Ballgame. Again, why is Braxton not in there to handle the ball? Are you saying that Jordan Hall can better read from the quarterback spot than Braxton Miller? That sounds like what you are saying.

5:32 Second and goal from the four-yard line. Play-action bootleg. It's incomplete, but there's a flag down in the endzone. Holding on Travis Howard. He wanted to go pro after this season, and I'm guessing Buckeye fans want him to as well. First and goal for Penn State at the two-yard line.

5:37 Third and goal. There's simply no way they are going to have a goal line stand here. No way. McGloin gets stuffed. No gain. Where was the wildcat? They're going for it on fourth.

5:38 They stuffed Green! Whoa. I never expected that. He went up and over, but got planted head first a foot short of the goal line. Wow. Six plays inside the six yard line, and the Buckeyes turned them back each time. Now use this momentum to get some proper punting room!

5:39 Boom runs wide and picks up 15 yards. That's huge. Gets them room. Now they can go back to the wildcat.

5:41 Carlos Hyde fumbles it and Penn State recovers it at the 46-yard line. Do the Buckeyes even have any more feet in which to shoot themselves? They are taking this “Be nice to Penn State” thing WAY TOO far. I never realized the Big Ten played “friendlies”.

5:44 The Buckeyes force a three and out, but Penn State's punt goes out of bounds at the three-yard line. Now the offense gets to try this all over again.

5:46 We have reached the end of the third quarter. After a relative shootout in the first half, there has been no scoring so far in the second half.

5:48 The Buckeyes sort of need something to happen soon. A molasses offense takes a while to get started and can get stopped by the very slightest of hurdles. It might take an entire quarter just to get into scoring position.

5:51 Second down. Rollout. Miller hits Devier Posey at the 29-yard line on the comeback. So this is what it's like to have receivers, eh? It's pretty cool.

5:53 Third and seven. Miller drops back. He's going deep to Philly Brown...and it's dropped. Flat dropped. Nobody wants to help? I hate going deep on third down, but that should have absolutely been caught. Honestly, if he can't catch that pass—and he's shown this year that he can't yet—why is he running that route? Ohio State punts.

5:57 Drake runs left and picks up seven or eight yards. Ryan Shazier slammed him down for fighting for yards. “I SAID SIT STILL!”

6:00 Screen play to Beachum picks up twelve yards on second and eleven. Tyler Moeller with another missed tackle. I hate seeing that for Tyler. Just a heart-breaking end to a hard-fought career.

6:01 Third and three. McGloin throws it into the flats to an open Mike Zordich and it's DROPPED! Travis Howard was in coverage and is thanking Zordich's football-hating hands. That was a game saver. There is 7:16 to play. Penn State's punt goes out of bounds at the Ohio State thirteen-yard line.

6:02 Pistol on first down. Okay! Draw to Boom for fourteen yards. Just stay in the pistol.

6:05 Bobbled snap! Braxton snags it, evades a defender and takes off, breaks a tackle, bounces and spins off of another defender and picks up 22 yards. Gene Smith's phone is ringing. “Gene, this is Urban. When you get a chance, we need to talk. It's urgent! Thanks.”

6:07 Second and nine. Bad snap dooms a receiver screen to Posey. Loses two yards. Unbelievable.

6:08 Third and eleven. Shotgun. Miller drops back and then takes off. He fights to the 36-yard line. He'll be five yards short. Have to go here with 2:50 to play.

6:08 Fourth and five. False start on J.B. Shugarts. Believable. Completely believable. I believe what I just saw. I almost thought he forgot to false start today.

6:09 Fourth and ten. Miller drops back, looks, looks, looks. Finally has to take off and comes up a yard short. Penn State ball. Time to head down to the field.

6:10 We got to the elevators too late. They're now all being held for the coaches. Fortunately, Michael Redd is also waiting and since he is a VIP, he is allowed to use the elevator. We all jump on. It's pretty sweet being a VIP.

6:12 Wow. Fans are streaming out of the game. Is it over already? Did I miss something? I guess they've just had it with everything.

6:16 It's third and twelve. Penn State hands it off and Shazier fills the hole and stops it for no gain. This dude is for real. Penn State will punt and the Buckeyes will get the ball with about 30 seconds to play. Though I guess they could always block it.

6:17 Ohio State has like 19 yards passing this half. You have to TRY to be that unproductive.

6:20 The Penn State punt is not blocked and instead goes out of bounds at the Ohio State 35-yard line with 36 seconds on the clock. That's a good amount of time, but not with a freshman quarterback.

6:21 Trips to the right. Miller is pressured up the middle and throws it away. But because he wasn't out of the tackle box when he threw it away, they're gonna call him for intentional grounding. Yep, there's the flag. And this hurts because of the new rule with the ten-second runoff, meaning the Buckeyes will now have 20 seconds on the clock. Ouch. Back is broken. The dangers of the freshman quarterback.

6:23 Here's the ballgame. It's third and 17. Braxton steps up into the pocket, heaves it and it's caught! Wait. It's not caught. Evan Spencer had it, but he got it ripped out of his hands. There is still one second on the clock, however. But Miller can't reach the endzone from 80 yards away.

6:24 Fourth down. Miller throws it down the sideline to Devin Smith, but it's incomplete. Penn State wins it 20-14.

6:27 I can't believe Ohio State just lost to these guys. They had to work extra hard to do it too. Fumbles, drops, missed tackles. They should win a sportsmanship award for their performance today.

6:28 Well, there will be some trivia that continues to live on—the last three times Penn State has won in Ohio Stadium, they have done so by beating true freshman quarterbacks. What a bunch of bullies. I suppose they want lunch money too.

6:29 At least now it's Michigan Week. Though I'm not sure that's actually a good thing this year. It's probably like looking forward to the last week of school, but knowing that you've got summer school starting in a week. It's hard to get excited for it.

6:30 That being said, a win over Michigan would give this season a lasting memory that was actually good. Even the win over Wisconsin has been clouded by the last two weeks, but a win over Michigan would part the skies like a rocket. Nothing blues up the sky like Wolverine misery. It is truly nature's happy pill.

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