As the Penn State Nittany Lions traveled to Columbus today to face the Ohio State Buckeyes, a cloud surrounded the team. Their beloved coach, Joe Paterno, was fired just over a week ago. It was announced this week that Paterno has a treatable form of lung cancer. There are the legal issues surrounding the school with the scandal that Jerry Sandusky brought down on the team. Last week, Penn State couldn't overcome their off-the-field issues to defeat Nebraska, but today they were able to get it done by holding off Ohio State to hang on to a victory.
Ohio State has their own distractions to deal with. The failure to monitor charge that will bring the school before the NCAA Committee on Infractions next month was revealed just over a week ago. DeVier Posey was finally allowed to return to the field after being suspended for 10 games for NCAA violations. The rumor mill has reared its ugly head in announcing that Urban Meyer has struck a deal with the school to be their next head coach, a rumor that has been denied by both parties. Despite their denials, the speculation is enough to be a distraction for everyone involved.
Even with DeVier Posey back on the field today, Ohio State just couldn't seem to get it going. Three late turnovers are what really cost the Buckeyes the game tonight. The first was a handoff from Jordan Hall to Dan Herron that was fumbled and recovered by Penn State. The second was a forced fumble by Penn State on Carlos Hyde. The third was a turnover on downs when Braxton Miller ran for nine yards and couldn't get the 10th to bring up a first down. Penn State attempted to capitalize on all three of those turnovers, but the Ohio State defense held it together and stopped them. Even going as far as to stop a fourth and goal at the one yard line.
Braxton Miller had a decent game tonight, throwing for 83 yards and 1 touchdown and running for 105 yards and 1 touchdown. Posey was the main benefactor of Miller's passes tonight, catching 4 passes for 66 yards. Corey Brown had one reception for 10 yards and Jake Stoneburner had one catch for seven yards and a touchdown. Behind Miller in rushing were Herron with 76 yards and Hyde with 24 yards.
Other than turnovers, both Penn State and Ohio State played pretty evenly. The time of possession battle was decided by less than a minute. Total yards were within 40. Penalties were within 8 yards. Ohio State had one more turnover that Penn State, but this was really a battle of wills. Which team was going to be able to overcome their off-the-field distractions and come away with the win? The answer tonight was Penn State.
The Nittany Lions victory tonight makes for a lot of interesting conversation topics that you can expect to hear about this week. For one, the Penn State vs. Wisconsin matchup will now decide who wins the Big Ten Leaders Division. Another topic sure to come up, or rather, continue, is that Luke Fickell is done at Ohio State. Even if he's able to take the Buckeyes into Ann Arbor next week and defeat a surging Michigan Wolverines team, it won't be enough to salvage his career. And it's really too bad. He never had a chance when he was chosen to follow Jim Tressel and head a team that was riddled with suspensions.
While Buckeye fans are disappointed in tonight's win, they are more anxious to get this week overwith and see what Fickell does at Michigan next week. For Buckeyes fans, the off-season is going to be long, but this week is going to seem even longer.
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