When it comes to weapons on the Ohio State offense, there is really only one. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Braxton Miller is one of the best offensive weapons in college football.
After a sluggish first half, OSU came alive with 21 points in the third quarter on the way to a 35-23 win at Penn State.
When the dust settled, Miller ran 24 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns, passing the 1,000-yard mark for the season in the process. He’s the first OSU quarterback to accomplish that feat, and just the fourth (Indiana’s Antwaan Randle-El and Michigan’s Denard Robinson twice) to do so.
Miller also has 12 rushing touchdowns on the year, matching Cornelius Greene (1973) for second most in school history for a single season. Art Schlicter holds the school mark (13 in 1978).
Thanks to a 72-yard touchdown pass to Jake Stoneburner, Miller wound up 7 of 19 passing for 143 yards and another score. Stoneburner had two receptions for 86 yards, while Evan Spencer had a career high three grabs.
There were two critical junctions in this game, book-ended around intermission. In the second quarter, following a punt block for a touchdown by the Nittany Lions for a 7-0 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.
That helped spring OSU for its first scoring drive of the game, sending the teams into halftime dead-locked at 7-7.
The Buckeyes kicked off to the home team to start the third quarter, and on the third play from scrimmage, linebacker Ryan Shazier intercepted Matt McGloin, and returned the pick 17 yards for the score, and a 14-7 OSU lead. The Buckeyes never trailed from that point.
Ohio State has actually made a habit of scoring defensive touchdowns against Penn State. Since 1998, 12 Buckeye defenders have found the end zone, with nine of them on interceptions (all in the past 12 years) Here is a list:
1998-Jerry Rudzinski fumble return
1999-Gary Berry fumble return
2000-Mike Collins fumble return
2001-Derek Ross interception return
2002-Chris Gamble interception return
2004-Tyler Everett interception return
2006-Malcolm Jenkins interception return
2006-Antonio Smith interception return
2007-Malcolm Jenkins interception return
2010-Devon Torrence interception return
2010-Travis Howard interception return
2012-Ryan Shazier interception return
From that point on, OSU controlled the game, especially the offensive line. The Bucks ran for 234 yards against the nation’s 21st ranked run defense. For the contest, OSU out-gained Penn State 377-359 yards.
The other big story was the Buckeye defense, which turned in arguably its best performance of the year. Penn State did score a couple of fourth quarter touchdowns to make it closer, but through 3 quarters, OSU had only allowed three points on defense.
The Nittany Lions had been very good on third down conversions, yet went only 5 of 17 today. PSU gambled four times on fourth down, converting just two. Ohio State meanwhile, went 8 of 16 on third downs.
Penn State only gained 32 yards rushing in the contest.
Individually, Bradley Roby, John Simon, Michael Bennett and Shazier all played excellent games for the Silver Bullets.
McGloin—who has now thrown three interceptions for touchdowns against the Buckeyes—did complete 27 of 45 passes for 327 yards, but again, most of that damage was in the fourth quarter, trailing 28-10.
Freshman tight end Kyle Carter hauled in six passes for 77 yards and a score, while Allen Robinson had five receptions of his own for 68 yards.
Most importantly, the Buckeyes are the only 9-0 team in all of FBS, and on top of the Big Ten’s Leaders Division at 5-0. Illinois is up next for the Buckeyes, Saturday at Ohio Stadium.