NCF Nation: A.J. Trapasso

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

 
 Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
 Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor reacts to his performance during the Buckeyes' 13-6 loss to Penn State Saturday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The play called for a typical quarterback sneak: No frills, up the middle, lower your shoulder and go.

But Terrelle Pryor isn't a typical quarterback. He's an atypical freshman who can do atypical things. So when he saw a chance to make a play, he went for it.

He had never failed before, so what could stop him now? On third-and-inches from midfield, with Ohio State leading 6-3 early in the fourth quarter, Pryor saw the middle bunching up and bounced outside.

"I thought I was scoring a touchdown," he said. "I was looking at the end zone. I was going to beat No. 9 (Penn State safety Mark Rubin). Then he punched it out. "

"It was the worst feeling of my life."

It was a feeling Pryor likely has never felt. He had taken some heat during his first five collegiate starts, but he hadn't committed a critical turnover or lost a game. He hadn't fumbled. The nation's top recruit had backed up his hype.

Last week, Pryor's teammates questioned whether Ohio State should bring back Todd Boeckman or go to a two-quarterback system. Pryor responded with a Friday night challenge to coach Jim Tressel -- bench me if I struggle -- and a Saturday afternoon spectacle against Michigan State at Spartan Stadium.

He continued to show beyond-his-years poise against Penn State, converting key third downs and hitting Dane Sanzenbacher and Brian Robiskie down the field. Even without much help from Chris "Beanie" Wells, Pryor made his share of plays.

But his decision on the quarterback sneak cost him dearly. Penn State recovered the fumble and drove for the game-winning touchdown.

"I think he saw a couple gaps or penetration, perhaps, I don't know," Tressel said, "and tried to slide outside. I think the helmet hit the ball or something hit the ball and it was unfortunate."

Offensive quality control coach Nick Siciliano accompanied Pryor to his post-game news conference and sat as the distraught quarterback answered questions.

"He continues to be a great player," Robiskie said. "Right now, he feels the loss is on his shoulders, but he knows he played a great game. It is up to us seniors to build him back up."

Ohio State's quest for a third trip to the BCS title game is officially over, and the Buckeyes need Penn State to lose twice to have a shot at an unprecedented third consecutive outright Big Ten title.

The goals have shifted, and for a senior-laden team, moving forward won't be easy.

"This is not what we saw for ourselves," punter A.J. Trapasso said. "This is not how we saw our season panning out."

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There are actually points on the board, so this update might be marginally more interesting than the last one.

I know the Big Ten isn't exactly the Big 12, but this feels more like an SEC game at the half. Several ferocious hits have been dished out on both sides of the ball, and besides two blown coverages, the defenses continue to dominate.

Unless one of these teams finds a running game in the second half, this contest likely will be decided by special teams and field position. Ohio State coach Jim Tressel has been a master at both throughout this career, but Penn State is moving the ball a bit better than the Buckeyes. Running back Chris "Beanie" Wells entered tonight with an excellent big-game track record, but he hasn't gotten much going so far (10 carries, 11 yards).

Penn State's swarming front seven has clogged rushing lanes and forced Ohio State to run outside. If there's a troubling trend for Penn State, it's third-down defense. Ohio State has converted three third downs of seven yards or longer, as well as a second-and-19 on the final drive of the half.

Terrelle Pryor has gone 9-for-14 passing, but two of his completions went for 53 and 33 yards. Penn State completely blew its coverage on the 53-yarder to Dane Sanzenbacher (4 catches 76 yards), but the Lions' held from there.

I've been very impressed with Ohio State's defensive line so far. Evan Royster is averaging just three yards per carry, nearly five below his season average. Aside from a blown coverage that allowed Daryll Clark to find Graham Zug for a 49-yard gain, the Buckeyes have looked tough.

Laugh all you want, but the first-half game balls go to the four specialists: punters Jeremy Boone and A.J. Trapasso and kickers Kevin Kelly and Aaron Pettrey. Expect more big plays in the second half, but these four could decide the game.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Do you like defense? If so, stick around a while.

For all the talk about Terrelle Pryor and Daryll Clark, big-game Beanie and the Spread HD, both defenses have dominated this one so far. Thaddeus Gibson adds a major playmaking presence to Ohio State's defensive front, which has shut down Evan Royster and limited runs up the middle. Penn State's defensive line is doing the same thing with Chris "Beanie" Wells, as defensive tackle Jared Odrick and linebacker Navorro Bowman tallied tackles for loss. Wells has six carries for five yards. Not good.

Some interesting developments on offense, despite no points. Penn State is using Derrick Williams a lot in the backfield, and the senior wideout gained 13 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Ohio State curiously started senior Maurice Wells but replaced him with Chris Wells on the second play. Pryor continues to be at his best on the run, but he's having a rough time finding open targets down the field.

This game could very well be decided by special teams, and both punters (A.J. Trapasso and Jeremy Boone) have looked impressive so far. Yes, I just praised the punters.

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