Saturday, November 19, 2011
Final: Penn State 20, Ohio State 14
By Adam Rittenberg
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Penn State Nittany Lions finally can celebrate.
After enduring an emotionally draining two weeks, No. 21 Penn State held off Ohio State 20-14 to prevail in Ohio Stadium for just the second time as a member of the Big Ten. The defense held the Buckeyes scoreless in the second half, and the offense continued to mix personnel and formations. Credit interim head coach Tom Bradley, offensive coordinator Galen Hall and the rest of the staff for a terrific game plan, and the team for remaining focused following so many distractions.
Penn State won a day after learning former coach Joe Paterno has lung cancer and 10 days after the school dismissed Paterno from his post after 45-plus seasons. The running back play was tremendous for the Lions, and DE Sean Stanley and LB Gerald Hodges led a stout defensive effort.
The win doesn't mean a whole lot in the Leaders Division race, which will be decided next week as Penn State visits Wisconsin. But it means a great deal to this Lions team, which has endured so much since the sex-abuse scandal broke.
Ohio State simply made too many mistakes to win, from penalties to a horrible false start penalty on J.B. Shugarts in the closing minutes. Luke Fickell and his assistants seemed to be a step behind Penn State's staff. While quarterback Braxton Miller made several electrifying plays, the Buckeyes didn't have enough contributions on both sides of the ball to beat an inspired Penn State team. Ohio State's run of six consecutive Big Ten titles is over, and the Buckeyes must beat Michigan next week in Ann Arbor just to secure a winning season.
Not a typical Senior Day at Ohio State, and not a typical season. For Penn State, the Big Ten title is still out there.
Much more to come from the Horsehoe.