CFN Instant Analysis
Ohio 24, Penn State 14
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It's one thing for Penn State to struggle on offense – everyone expected that, especially with top receiver Justin Brown (Oklahoma) and All-Big Ten caliber running back Silas Redd (USC) transferring. But to lose because the defense was miserable was particularly galling.
Penn State suffered a few losses, but it was expected to be dominant on defense led by Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, two of the best linebackers in the country, and pro prospect Jordan Hill at defensive tackle. When push came to shove, Ohio did the shoving.
The Bobcats are supposed to be good enough to potentially win the MAC title, but again, the Penn State defense is supposed to be good enough to stop anyone in the country. Instead, the Nittany Lions gave up close to 500 yards of total offense and allowed Ohio to go 93 yards in 14 plays to put the game away. The D never adjusted to the short slant patterns that allowed the Bobcats to keep the drive alive, and the line never applied enough pressure to bother quarterback Tyler Tettleton.
There's no way Penn State could lose this game. After all the drama, all the controversy, all the bluster and all the emotion, head coach Bill O'Brien had to win this to show that the program might be able to move on and be productive. It still could be – again, Ohio is good – but with the way the team's strength weakened, and with the offense not likely to get any better any time soon, this could be a very, very long five years.
Welcome to your new normal, Penn State.
All the cries of brotherhood and solidarity. All the community support. All of the pent-up intensity. All of the tired catchphrases in Happy Valley this afternoon. And you still couldn't hold off a visitor from the MAC. Get used to it Lions fans, because your team is not very good, and may not be for a very long time. If high-profile recruits were on the fence about State College prior to this weekend, there's a very good chance that they're leaning in a different direction right now.
Who would blame them?
The reality is that if Ohio can steal your thunder, the likes of Ohio State are going to steal your heart two months from now. Today was likely as good as it gets for the Nittany Lions in 2012 … and they were unable to protect a 14-3 in their own building. And every time this program gets trampled and embarrassed, be sure to remember that it was a failed administration, the supposed adults in the room, whose inactivity and poor judgment made this debacle possible.
On the flip side, kudos to Bobcats head coach Frank Solich, who quietly continues to do a terrific job in Athens, sans a lot of notoriety. His teams don't get Big Ten-caliber athletes, but they are always well-coached and skilled in the running game. Almost a decade after the fact, it still feels as if Nebraska was impetuous in letting this guy leave Lincoln.
By Matt Zemek
It's not as though the Ohio Bobcats dominated Penn State at the outset of Saturday's game in State College, Pa. The defending Mid-American Conference East Division champions were climbing uphill against the fired-up Nittany Lions. They were blown off the ball on most snaps, their running game smothered and their offensive line in retreat. Ohio walked to the locker room at halftime with an 11-point deficit on the scoreboard. The desire to win in front of more than 100,000 spectators was so intense that the Bobcats were unable to get out of their own way. It was going to be a challenge for this team to come back, primarily because it was going to be difficult for Ohio to relax.
Frank Solich, the head coach who has made the Bobcats consistent winners over the past several years (and a bowl winner for the first time last year), didn't need to yell at his team at the intermission. He needed to tell his team to settle down and play.
That's exactly what the Bobcats did.
Ohio flipped the first-half script after halftime. In the second half, it was Tyler Tettleton – not Matt McGloin – who threw short passes to move the chains in third-and-short or third-and-medium situations. It was Ohio's defensive line that raised its level of play, stuffing the Penn State ground game and preventing the Nittany Lions from establishing physical and territorial leverage. Ohio withstood two missed field goals to take the lead and later drive home the dagger on a 14-play, 94-yard, six-minute-and-49-second-long touchdown drive in the final minutes.
Ohio has not always been able to close down meaningful wins beyond the
scope of MAC East competition. This win could very
well create the internal confidence and belief that
could enable the 2012 Bobcats to finally win the MAC
on Nov. 30 in Detroit.
By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb
The game itself was a good one, and watching Frank Solich get the win on the Beaver Stadium sidelines was worth the price of admission. Solich is a good coach and a better ambassador for football.
The real story was ESPN's highly orchestrated effort to turn this football game into an "event". So much so that the broadcast very quickly took on a "The Decision"-esque feel.
We get it. It's time for everyone to move forward. Some might disagree, but alright. You can get that across in five seconds. Instead, ESPN and the Penn State fan base turned this into a glorified tribute to…Penn State's football culture.
Wait a minute…
Yes, the E stands for Entertainment, and the actual football part of the broadcast was not surprisingly very good. Still, this was a lot of love for a university and football program that should really still be in time out. Or at the very least, not have a three hour homage praising it.
It was all a little weird.
By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN
Reality check time.
You knew it was going to happen. There is simply no way that Penn State can keep the same level of play with all of the sanctions and bans that were handed down because of the shameless child abuse scandal. But already?
Yes Silas Redd departed. Sure the team's best wide receiver, Justin Brown, followed suit along with a few others who decided to take advantage of the free transfer rule the NCAA put in place. But isn't there still enough talent on this roster to be an average to above average Big Ten team?
The defense surely still has top-tier talent and depth, including a linebacking corps that isn't far off on paper than where the typical PSU linebacking unit is. And on offense? Surely Matt McGloin isn't going to make anyone forget about Kerry Collins or Michael Robinson, but he's a veteran that you'd think could at least steer the Nittany Lion ship forward.
But now it appears as though things have run aground well before fans at the foot of Mount Nittany expected the NCAA typhoon to take its toll.
To be fair, Ohio is not a bad squad. It has a very solid coach in Frank Solich, a veteran and talented QB in Tyler Tettleton, and a lot of returning talent. But it is a MAC school that Penn State should have been able to get by without too many problems at home. But it didn't. It didn't at a time when the emotions of getting back on the gridiron to begin thinking about other things than human disregard and unparalleled fallacy should have carried the team.
The season isn't over by any means for the residents of Happy Valley, but perhaps expectations need to be adjusted just a bit now. Maybe in reality, this Nittany Lion team has already begun the steep slide down the slopes of despair at an accelerated rate. And maybe that's just what should be happening...
By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball
When the NCAA handed down its sentence against Penn State, it said that the sanctions were so painful that those in Happy Valley would wish that they had received the death penalty instead.
After watching the Nittany Lions in action this afternoon, Penn State fans would have to agree.
Give Frank Solich and Ohio University credit: they have an excellent team, and should contend for the MAC Championship again this year.
However, this is Penn State. Losing to any team from the MAC at home is never acceptable. In fact, legendary Coach Joe Paterno nearly lost his job after Toledo beat the Nittany Lions 24-6 back in 2000.
Bill O'Brien's team suffered an eerily similar loss today. Yes, the Nittany Lions owned the first half, and looked like they were going to cruise to victory. But starting with the second half kickoff, the Bobcats simply imposed their will on a seemingly overmatched Penn State squad.
Watching that unfold has to hurt, especially at a program so accustomed to winning.
What will hurt those in Happy Valley even more is that this is just a precursor of what's going to happen in the future. The Lions could very easily lose every game on the rest of their schedule this season, with only Navy and Temple lurking as potential wins. In addition, the scholarship reductions will make Penn State the equivalent of a Division II program, putting it a competitive disadvantage against the other schools in the Big Ten for at least the next four years.
Perhaps the NCAA was right about something for a change.