Penn State Football: Buckeyes' Braxton Miller Bruises Lions, 35-23
To Braxton Miller, the Beaver Stadium WhiteOut was just white noise.
And as a result, Ohio State's sophomore quarterback soundly defeated the Nittany Lions.
Miller accounted for 277 yards and three touchdowns as ninth-ranked Ohio State defeated Penn State 35-23 on Saturday night in a match-up of first-year Big Ten Conference coaches Urban Meyer and Bill O'Brien.
Miller rushed 25 times for 134 yards, with a pair of one-yard TD runs, and also completed 7 of 19 passes for 143 yards, with an interception and a touchdown.
Miller's only touchdown pass of the night -- a 72-yard toss to receiver Jake Stoneburner deep into the fourth quarter -- sealed the Buckeyes' win over Penn State and did nothing to dim his Heisman Trophy candidacy.
The scoring play capped a 28-point scoring rampage in the second half, and thoroughly silenced the WhiteOut crowd of 107,818.
"Miller's an excellent player and he's one of the best five players in the country," said O'Brien. "We stopped him some times and obviously some times we didn't."
Penn State gamely fought back in the fourth quarter, scoring twice on touchdown passes from Matt McGloin to a pair of Nittany Lion tight ends. The first touchdown was a two-yard reception by Matt Lehman to cap a 18-play, 80-yard drive, while the second came with just 1:41 to play as McGloin threw a 20-yarder to Kyle Carter to complete a 12-play, 83-yard drive.
It took Penn State's NASCAR offense too long to gear up. Over a six-possession stretch in the second half, Penn State's offense managed just one drive over four plays. Forty percent of Penn State's overall plays came in the final quarter.
Ohio State is now 9-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten, while Penn State falls to 5-3 and 3-1.
Led by Miller and Carlos Hyde, who ran 22 times for 55 yards and a touchdown, the Buckeyes roundly defeated the Nittany Lions on the ground. Overall, Ohio State ran 53 times for 234 yards, while Penn State managed just 36 yards on 28 carries. Zach Zwinak led PSU with 12 carries for 42 yards.
McGloin completed 27 of 45 passes for a career-high 327 yards, with the two scoring tosses and a third-quarter interception that Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier returned for a 17-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead that the Buckeyes never relinquished. McGloin was sacked four times, a season-high.
Linebackers Gerald Hodges (14 tackles) and Michael Mauti (13) paced the Lion defense.
THIRD QUARTER: Ohio State 28, Penn State 10
Big, brash runs by Miller and two passes by Penn State ultimately cost the Nittany Lions 21 points in the third quarter. The thing about those two passes? Neither ended up in the hands of a Penn State receiver.
(INTERCEPTED) PASS No. 1:
Two plays into the third quarter, Shazier sacked McGloin for a nine-yard loss. The very next play, Shaizer intercepted a pass by McGloin and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, 79 seconds into the second half, Ohio State broke a tight-as-it-sounds 7-7 halftime tie to lead 14-7.
"The guy made a great play on that and Matt will learn from that," O'Brien said.
Penn State answered with a field goal from Sam Ficken, from 27 yards out, to pull within 14-10 with 9:50 left in the third quarter. But that wasn't nearly enough. Penn State's inability to close what ended up being a nine-play, 73-yard drive proved to be costly.
(INCOMPLETE) PASS NO. 2:
On the ensuing drive, Miller was pressured by Lion linebacker Mike Hull, forcing Miller's toss downfield to come up short -- right into the hands of Penn State cornerback Adrian Amos for an interception. Penn State's offense could only muster one yard on three plays, setting up a fourth-and-nine from the Ohio State 43.
O'Brien rolled the dice. Twice. And lost. Twice.
First, O'Brien called for a fake punt, and punter Alex Butterworth's lobbed pass to Derek Day fell incomplete. "I felt like at that time we wanted to get something going," O'Brien said. "We thought we had it but couldn't make it happen."
After the failed fake, while operating on a short field Ohio State went 57 yards in 10 plays to pad its lead with a spectacular one-yard scoring play by Miller. The sophomore quarterback sidestepped a Penn State tackler, took a step forward and then dove into the end zone for the TD. Drew Basil's PAT gave the Buckeyes a 21-10 lead with 3:30 to go in the third quarter.
Ohio State came right back to score on another Miller one-yard run, with that scoring drive covering eight plays and 85 yards in just 2:15. It continued a string of domination by the Buckeye offense. Three of its last four drives covered 197 yards in 30 plays.
In third quarter, Miller had seven carries for 49 yards and completed two passes for 26 yards. On the night, Miller has rushed 21 times for 123 yards, and is 6 of 18 for 71 yards. The Buckeyes have outrushed Penn State, 206-35.
HALFTIME: Penn State 7, Ohio State 7
Hands down, it was quick-scoring finish to what had been a scoreless first half in Beaver Stadium.
First, Hull took the scoreless tie into his own hands -- and the result was a blocked punt that yielded a touchdown and a 7-0 lead for Penn State.
Then, just four plays later, Penn State's Brad Bars was flagged for holding on yet another Ohio State punt on a fourth-and-8 from the Buckeyes' own 27. That hold gave the Buckeyes a first down. And you have to hand it to them, the Buckeyes turned that penalty into the momentum to complete a 75-yard drive that culminated with as one-yard TD run by Hyde. A 33-yard scamper by Miller was the drive's big play.
Hull's hands got all the scoring started, when they blocked the punt of the Buckeyes' Ben Buchanan deep in OSU territory. The ball landed into the end zone. And Michael Yancich, a reserve linebacker just like his teammate Hull, landed on the ball.
Touchdown Penn State. And just like that, 10 punts into the game, Penn State was on the board. Fickens' PAT -- never a certainty, especially on a night when kicks were being blocked -- gave the Nittany Lions a 7-0 led with 6:15 left in the first half.
Four plays earlier, O'Brien had a decision. Twice. And he came up with the same answer both times. As a result, Penn State's offense came up with zero points.
With 7:31 remaining the second quarter, Penn State's offense was faced with a fourth-and-7. O'Brien opted to go for the first down instead of a 37-yard field goal, but right tackle Mike Farrell was called for illegal procedure and a five-yard penalty. O'Brien went for the first down again, this time on fourth-and-12, but McGloin's eight-yard completion to Brandon Moseby-Felder was four yards short.
The drive was set up by another in a series of big plays by the Penn State defense.
In a packed stadium, midway through the second quarter Hodges was making the most noise. The senior had seven tackles six minutes into the second quarter, the most crucial coming on a third-anbd-1 by Ohio State from its own 39. Hodges blitzed on the play, grabbing Miller behind the line of scrimmage for a 10-yard loss. The sack bailed out Mauti, who earlier on the drive was whistled for a 15-yard facemask penalty.
FIRST QUARTER: Penn State 0, Ohio State 0
A combined six punts, 113 yards of offense and two blown long-bomb scoring chances. The first quarter of the much-anticipated match-up wasn't pretty. But it was white. As in a Beaver Stadium scoreboard that was all WhiteOuted -- with zero points.
The crowd of 107,818 was loud, though. Early. And often.
Ohio State went out three-and-out on its first possession, as Jordan Hill and Mauti combined to stuff Miller a yard shy of a first down. Faced with a fourth-and-1 from its own 34, Ohio State lined up to punt. But the WhiteOut crowd was apparently so overwhelming, the Buckeyes called time out.
Ohio State punted, but on its first possession Penn State's offense could do little. On third-and-3 from his own 33, McGloin went deep to Allen Robinson streaking left -- and open -- downfield. But the pass was short and though Robinson made a game attempt, it was incomplete.
Butterworth's 24-yard punt set up Ohio State at its own 43, where the Buckeyes were immediately whistled for a false start. WhiteOut noise. Again.
On the following series, both teams had their chances. Penn State defensive backs Stephen Obeng-Agyapong and Malcolm Willis both nearly had picks off of Miller. Obeng-Agyapong could have easily gone in for the score on his chance. On the drive, Miller's throw to a streaking -- and wide open -- Buckeye receiver Corey Brown was overthrown, costing the Buckeyes a sure TD.
The biggest play of the quarter almost came on a fourth-and-2-inch on the Ohio State 45, when Penn State's offense lined up to go for it. But Penn State coach Bill O'Brien had a literal last-second change of heart, as he hurriedly signaled for a time-out. Cooler heads prevailed, and the Nittany Lions' Butterworth punted 44 yards to the Ohio State 11.
The Buckeyes gained a bit of traction on their ensuing drive, thanks to a personal foul on Amos. But a few plays later, Penn State defensive ends Pete Massaro and Sean Stanley combined to sack Miller and halted Ohio State's drive at its own 45.