Colin: So describe the mood in Happy Valley as the Buckeyes came back again to snatch victory from the Nittany Lions.
Baver: A good number of fans remained in their seats well after the clock hit 0:00. They may have been stunned or just waiting until we (i.e. the obnoxious OSU fans) filed out. I don’t think I heard a word from a Penn St fan as we walked out of Beaver Stadium. Our tailgate was hosted by a PSU professor that we’ve known a long time. I felt sorta bad for the Penn St folks when we made it back to the tailgate. They were pretty down to say the least.
Colin: Did it feel like a victory party up until the big play by Bin Victor? When did panic set in?
Baver: It was the first top-10 matchup in Beaver Stadium in years. I got in the stadium about an hour before kick, and the early arriving Penn St students were already making a ton of noise. When they went up 26-14 with under 9 minutes to go, I think many Penn St fans thought this was going to be a dominating victory over Ohio St. It wasn’t just the score; the stats at that point showed a thorough butt whoopin’ of the 4th ranked team in the country.
I think they still felt they would hang on after the Victor TD, and still felt so when they pinned OSU at their own 4-yard line in front of the PSU student sections. It was probably the screen play on 1stdown, where JK gained 35 yds, when many of the PSU faithful first thought that their nightmare from 11 months prior might be relived.
Colin: How did people in the stands react to the 4th down play call and time out scenario that sealed the deal for the Buckeyes? Where you surprised by the call?
Baver: There wasn’t a lot I heard in the stands. Every OSU fan I talked with was baffled by the call. Personally, I don’t think it was a good call, but I think too much is being made of it. Franklin is of course a genius if the play goes for a big gainer. And many people still don’t know that it was a zone read call, where McSorley had the option to keep. A combination of things went wrong which led to about the worst result you could have on the play. And had McSorley kept it, he would have been smothered. Urban says Schiano told him that Penn St would run the zone read, and that they had called a play to defend it. And defend it Chase, Dre’mont, and company did.
Colin: The defense really kept us in the game but again gave up a huge play. How do you grade their performance?
Baver: They played their best game of the year. No, this D is still not on par with most defenses that Urban has had, and many things again went wrong….but holding PSU to 26 pts is a pretty good effort. Yes, McSorley ran wild, but the PSU WRs and Miles Sanders did little to nothing. And the OSU D made the last 2 stops when they absolutely had to.
Colin: How about the offense?
Baver: 9 punts….that says a lot. It’s not like this is a dominating Penn St defense. Haskins struggled more than I thought he would and simply could not get in a rhythm. Still, he was pretty calm in leading a 75-yard drive followed by a 96-yard drive in the final 8 minutes when Ohio State had to have 2 TDs. Malcolm Pridgeon struggled at LG and the WR/TE drops hurt big time. But that atmosphere in a night, white-out in Beaver Stadium is ridiculous, and there are too many OSU fans hammering Dwayne. I think he’ll be fine and will learn a lot from this.
Colin: Penn State really should have won the last two meetings which would give James Franklin three straight wins over Urban. How would this change perceptions of the programs?
Baver: “Woulda, coulda, shoulda….it ain’t gonna get the rent paid.” © Watershed, 1997.
PSU did get the better of Ohio State Saturday with the exception of the final score. But last year, Ohio State dominated in my eyes, having 529 total yds to Penn St’s 283. But PSU did indeed come within a whisker of winning both games. If they had, perception wise, Penn St would be the new kings of the B10, and Chris Fowler would be doing cartwheels.
Colin: Indiana at home this week. Should we fear an Iowa style melt down?
Baver: Indiana always gives OSU trouble and probably will again, at least for a while on Saturday, maybe longer. The Buckeyes are beaten up and really need to rest some guys. And Ohio St is making so many mistakes week in and week out, and committing so many penalties…this could be another one of “those” OSU-Indiana games. I don’t feel great about this one, but with Urban likely hammering his guys about last year’s follow-up game after Penn St, the Bucks should be okay. I’ve got OSU winning 37-17, pulling away in the 2ndhalf. I think the Hoosiers cover the 26.
Colin: Any other games and lines you will be keeping an eye on this weekend?
Baver: I like Florida getting 2 pts at home against LSU. Dan Mullen has Florida playing better and Ed Orgeron is destroying his reputation with LSU’s 5-0 start. With the ND-Va Tech spread now up to 7, I think the Hokies getting a full TD at home, at night is a solid play. I loved the Irish last week, but they pick their spots, and I think Justin Fuente and Va Tech hangs around here.