STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The top-producing offense in the Big Ten was on one sideline, and the No. 2 defense in the conference was on the other. When they met, it was supposed to be a clash of titans, a sumo match.
When it was over, Ohio State’s defense had won the day, tossing Penn State out of the ring repeatedly while holding an offense that had been averaging 35.2 points per game to just seven. The Buckeyes ended up winning 24-7 by limiting Penn State to 201 total yards - more than 225 yards below its average.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno said the Buckeyes’ defensive line just won the battle up front, and that had a lot to do with determining the outcome of the game.
“I don’t think we were off a little bit anywhere - I just think for the whole ball game they gave us a good licking,” Paterno said. “I think they beat us up front enough to control things.”
On seven different occasions in the game, the Buckeyes forced Penn State into three-and-out possessions, not allowing a single first down. Penn State had just 76 yards rushing, and only two first downs by running the ball.
“Defensively - we were darned good,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said.
“We just wanted to let those guys know we were here,” OSU defensive end Thaddeus Gibson said. “We wanted to show them something, and I think it was one of the biggest performances for our defense as a whole.”
Ohio State (8-2, 5-1), which moved into a tie for the Big Ten lead with Iowa after the previously-unbeaten Hawkeyes lost at home to Northwestern earlier in the day, took control of the game in the second half after leading just 10-7 at the break.
“We wanted to go out there and just be as dominant as we could, but we knew it would take time because Penn State is a very talented team,” OSU defensive tackle Doug Worthington said.
We just had to make sure that we got in there and disrupted things.”
The Buckeyes sacked Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark twice for 13 yards in losses, and hounded him throughout the game.
“I knew we’d have troubles,” Paterno said. “We felt that the front seven of Ohio State played the run as well as anybody we had seen. We knew we would have our hands full. It was the kind of game we expected, but we didn’t make the plays.”
PRYOR POINTS: As the first half came to a close, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor had wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher open on a deep route near the Penn State goal line.
Pryor overthrew the pass, missing an opportunity to extend Ohio State’s lead before intermission.
Pryor came back in the second half and hooked up with wide receiver DeVier Posey on a 62-yard touchdown that gave the Buckeyes a 17-7 advantage.
“On the pass to Dane, I was thinking ‘yes, yes, touchdown’,” Pryor said, “but I didn’t hit it. Sometimes you miss those opportunities, so it was big to come back and hit the one to Posey.”
Sanzenbacher, who served as Ohio State’s offensive captain yesterday, said the Posey score gave the Buckeyes a surge of momentum.
“It was all back-and-forth before that, and both teams were just working for field position, and playing pretty conservatively,” he said.
“We had an opportunity there and took advantage of it.”
BARCLAY PERFECT: Junior kicker Devin Barclay, moved into the starter’s role after Aaron Pettrey suffered a season-ending knee injury last week against New Mexico State, was perfect against Penn State, hitting a 37-yard field goal and all three extra point attempts.
“I’m pretty speechless - that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” the former pro soccer player said about making his first college start. “I definitely felt like it could come down to a final field goal, but I felt good.”
CROWD CONTROL: The crowd of 110,033 at was the fourth-largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history, and the 300th game at the stadium.