Posted by Adam Jacobi
PENN STATE WON. A high-powered first half gave way to a defensive struggle after halftime, and Penn State hung on to a 20-14 victory at Ohio State. The win was the first for interim head coach Tom Bradley and his retooled staff. Every point of this game came in the first half, as Anthony Fera knocked home a 46-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter to give the Nittany Lions the six-point lead. After the 34-point first half, few watching the game could have possibly predicted the second half would be scoreless.
WHY PENN STATE WON: We thought coming into the game that one of these two teams would be exerting its will with a multi-faceted ground game to wear down the opposition; we just didn't think that team would be Penn State. Stephfon Green rushed 16 times for 93 yards and two scores, and the Nittany Lions as a whole gashed OSU for 239 yards on 39 attempts -- over six yards per carry. That total is twice OSU's season average for rushing yards given per game (119.3) coming into this week's game, and it's a critical reason why Penn State was able to engineer those scoring drives in the first half and keep its defense fresh late.
WHEN PENN STATE WON: Sure, OSU had the ball back at the end of the game, but this game was really lost when Ohio State couldn't convert a 4th and 10 at Penn State's 42 with under two minutes to play. Braxton Miller (7-17, 83 yards, 1 TD) couldn't find anyone open on the play and made a nice move on the outside to get moving toward the first down line, but a desperation dive by Miller came up a yard shy, and that was that.
WHAT PENN STATE WON: In terms of the division race, Penn State's win Saturday was largely meaningless; with Wisconsin beating Illinois, the season finale between the Badgers and Nittany Lions was going to decide the Leaders division regardless of whether Penn State took a one-game lead into the game or came in tied. And yet, getting that first post-Joe Paterno win -- in front of a hostile Ohio State crowd, no less -- will likely do wonders for the team's stability going forward. Nothing is spiraling out of control, nothing is forever ruined. Penn State can still play ball.
WHAT OHIO STATE LOST: Rumors are swirling about the future coach of Ohio State, and while they're still just rumors, it's important to note that none of them involve Luke Fickell remaining the head coach. And that was before his Buckeyes lost their fifth game of the year with a road game at Michigan still on the docket. Meanwhile, that fifth loss means OSU's going to be hurting when it comes time for bowl selection; while we're still talking about a high-profile program that draws fans and ratings wherever it goes, the simple fact is that there are now six conference teams with more wins than the Buckeyes, and that's going to complicate any effort to get OSU into a high-profile bowl game.
THAT WAS CRAZY: This game was star WR DeVier Posey's first on the season, after serving two consecutive five-game suspensions for impermissible benefits. On Posey's first catch, he went 39 yards on a deep fade to convert a 3rd and 15. But it was Posey's second catch -- a one-handed grab while falling out of bounds -- that had everybody in the 'Shoe buzzing and ruing the fact that Posey had been hit so severely by suspension. It's a legitimate contender for catch of the year.