In tight games, special teams can often make a huge difference. So far in this game, it’s made all the difference in the world.
Ohio State had a punt blocked for the third time this season, as Michael Yancich recovered the ball in the end zone for a 7-0 Nittany Lions lead.
Penn State kicked right back to the Buckeyes, who were forced to try another punt following a three and out. However, the Lions were flagged for defensive holding, giving OSU a fresh set of downs.
Six plays later, Braxton Miller finally got loose, picking up 33 yards down to the PSU 6 yard line. On the play, the sophomore signal called went over the 1,000-yard mark on the year, the first Buckeye quarterback ever to do so.
However, Miller hasn’t been sharp in the first half, completing just 4 of 12 passes for 45 yards. He’s carried 14 times for 59 yards, but has been sacked three times by Penn State.
The Buckeyes have a slim (145 to 144) advantage in total offense, with 100 of it coming on the ground.
Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin is 8 of 14 for 115 yards, with three of receptions by Allen Robinson, good for 60 yards.
The Lions have been excellent this season on third down conversions, yet are 0-5 in the first half. PSU is also 0-1 on fourth down, bypassing a field goal attempt (kicking has been problematic all year) and winding up with a fourth and 12 situation following a false start.
Penn State continued a remarkable streak, not allowing a single point in the first quarter all season, which is the equivalent of two full games. In fact, the Lions have only allowed 30 first half points all year, following the OSU touchdown.
The Buckeyes have also controlled time of possession, nearly doubling up the home team (19:03-10:57).
Both teams played a little tight and conservative in the first half. Expect the game to open up quite a bit in the second half.