Saturday, November 19, 2011
Halftime: Penn State 20, Ohio State 14
By Adam Rittenberg
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Well, well, this has been a much more exciting game than I expected. Anyone predict these two teams to combine for 34 first-half points. Yeah, didn't think so.
No. 21 Penn State takes a 6-point lead into the locker room.
Some quick halftime hits:
Turning point: Penn State led 17-7 and had the ball in good field position when a Matthew McGloin first-down pass was tipped and intercepted by Ohio State cornerback Orhian Johnson. Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller answered with an electrifying 24-yard run and fired a touchdown pass to Jake Stoneburner to cut his team's deficit to three points.
Stat of the half: Both teams have been terrific on third down, with each converting 5 of 7 chances. DeVier Posey's brilliant one-handed grab on third-and-10 moved the chains and set up Ohio State's first touchdown. Derek Moye had a 16-yard grab on third-and-4 to set up Penn State's opening touchdown. Ohio State entered the game ranked 78th nationally in third-down conversions (38.4 percent), while Penn State ranked 96th (38.5 percent).
What Penn State needs to do: Continue the creativity in the run game. Penn State has mixed backs and formations and had good success. The Lions finished the half with 188 rush yards on 21 carries. They got 91 of those yards from the Wildcat formation, as wide receivers Curtis Drake and Bill Belton both have been effective. Drake, Stephfon Green and Silas Redd each have runs of 38 yards or longer. Defensively, it's all about containing Miller, who has been tough to bring down in the open field.
What Ohio State needs to do: Shore up the tackling, for starters. Luke Fickell can't be pleased with his defense, which has missed tackles and been out of position repeatedly against Penn State's offense. The Buckeyes need to tighten things up a bit. Offensively, Ohio State should show greater willingness to throw the ball, especially with Posey (2 catches, 57 yards) back in the fold. The Buckeyes must let Miller be a playmaker out there.